José Alberto Pujols (born January 16, 1980 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) is a Major League Baseball player with the Los Angeles Angels. He has previously played for the St. Louis Cardinals. He has become an excellent defensive player at first base winning his first Gold Glove award in 2006. On July 13, 2006, Pujols became the first Major League player to hit 30 home runs in each of his first six seasons. On August 22, he became the first MLB player since Ted Williams to hit 100 RBIs in each of his first six seasons. (Al Simmons holds the record with 11 consecutive 100-rbi seasons to start his career). He is also the youngest MLB player to hit 250 home runs. He reached the 100-rbi mark for the 9th consecutive year in 2009 - and NL record to start a career (Al Simmons had 11 in AL for major league record to start career). Pujols scored 100 runs his first 6 years but fell 1 run scored short with 99 in 2007. Pujols became a U.S. citizen on February 7, 2007. He scored a perfect 100 on his citizenship test. 
Early Life and CareerEdit
Albert Pujols was born in the Dominican Republic, and his family emigrated to the United States in the early 1990s, first to New York City and then later to Independence, Missouri. Albert did not grow up in a traditional family unit. His father, Bienvenido, was in and out of his life from an early age. His grandmother, America, assumed many of the responsibilities of raising him. He had 10 uncles and aunts, all of whom seemed more like brothers and sisters to him.
During spring training in 2001, the Cardinals were preparing for Pujols to join the Major League ranks, but the Cardinals' roster was already full of talented players, including Mark McGwire, Fernando Viña, Edgar Rentería, Ray Lankford, Jim Edmonds and J. D. Drew. While it's widely believed that an injury to bench player Bobby Bonilla freed up a roster spot, Pujols actually fought for, and won a spot on the Opening Day roster before Bonilla went on the DL. His first Major League game was against the Colorado Rockies in Denver.
In the season's second series, playing against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Pujols hit a home run, three doubles and eight runs batted in, securing his spot on the team. In May, he was named National League Rookie of the Month. In June, he was named to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game by NL manager Bobby Valentine, the first Cardinal rookie selected since 1955. Pujols' phenomenal rookie season helped the Cardinals tie for the National League Central Division title. For the season, Pujols batted .329/.403/.610 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) with 37 home runs and 130 RBI, and was unanimously named the National League Rookie of the Year.
In 2002, Pujols struggled early on as pitchers learned to pitch to him, but he continued to bat extremely well throughout the season, hitting .314/.394/.561 with 34 homers and 127 RBIs. The Cardinals finished first in the NL Central during a difficult campaign that saw the death of team announcer Jack Buck and the sudden death of pitcher Darryl Kile. The Cardinals defeated the Diamondbacks in the first round of the playoffs, but lost to the San Francisco Giants in the National League Championship series.
In the 2003 season, Pujols had his best season to date, batting .359/.439/.667 with 43 home runs and 124 RBIs, winning the National League batting title, but the Cardinals failed to make the playoffs, faltering in the stretch to the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. Pujols also finished second in the MVP voting to Barry Bonds.
Albert Signed a 7-year, $100 million contract extension with the Cardinals before the 2004 season began. Throughout the year, Pujols was nagged by plantar fasciitis, but he was still a powerful hitter, hitting .331/.415/.657 with 46 home runs and 123 RBI. In addition, Pujols was chosen to appear on the cover of EA Sports' video game, MVP Baseball 2004. He was also the MVP of the 2004 National League Championship Series, helping his team reach the World Series, where they were swept by the Boston Red Sox.
The 2005 season saw Pujols establish career highs in walks and stolen bases, while leading his team in almost every offensive category. He finished batting .330/.430/.609, with 41 home runs (including his 200th career homer), a grand slam, 117 RBIs, 97 walks, and 16 stolen bases. However, due to continually nagging leg injuries, he finished with a career-low 38 doubles. The Cardinals were eliminated 4 games to 2 in the National League Championship Series, but Pujols hit a memorable home run in game 5—a 2-out, 3-run blast in the top of the 9th inning, off of Houston Astros closer Brad Lidge to stave off elimination. After the season, Pujols received his first National League MVP award, underscoring his critical role in keeping the injury-plagued Cardinals on track throughout the season.
Pujols set the record for the most home runs hit in the first month of the season, at 14, on April 29, 2006. The record was tied by Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees in 2007. On June 3, 2006, Pujols suffered an oblique strain chasing a foul pop fly off the bat of Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez. He was later placed on the 15-day disabled list for the first time in his career. Pujols, at the time of his injury, had 25 home runs and 65 RBI and was on pace to break the single-season records held by Barry Bonds (73 HRs) and Hack Wilson (191 RBI). Pujols returned in time to help the Cardinals win the NL Central. He started at first base for the 2006 National League All-Star team at the All-Star game in Pittsburgh. Pujols finished the season with a .331/.431/.671 line, establishing new career-highs in slugging percentage (in which he led the majors), home runs (49)(second) and RBIs (137)(second). In 2006 National League MVP voting he came in a close second to eventual winner Ryan Howard, garnering 12 of 32 first-place votes.
After appearing in the playoffs with the Cardinals in four of his first five years in the big leagues but falling short each time, Pujols won his first World Championship ring when the Cardinals won the 2006 World Series, defeating the Detroit Tigers four games to one. Pujols and starting pitcher Chris Carpenter were expected to carry the Cardinals if they had any chance to win. While Carpenter was a two game winner, Pujols hit only .200 in the Series (3 for 15), and the rest of the Cardinals team picked up the slack.
Defensively, Pujols started his major league career as a third baseman. It can also be noted that during Pujols' rookie season, he started at every position, except catcher and pitcher, during the course of the season. When Scott Rolen joined the team in 2002, Pujols was moved to left field. Following an injury scare in 2003, Pujols was moved to his current position, first base, which had been opened up by the retirement of Mark McGwire. In 2005, John Dewan noted in The Fielding Bible that no first baseman was better at digging balls out of the dirt than Pujols. Pujols saved 42 bad throws by his fielders in 2005. Derrek Lee was second with 23. Pujols' fielding percentage was close to the bottom amongst qualified National League first basemen in his first two full seasons at the position, but in 2006 it was impressive. After the season Pujols' improvements were recognized as he was given his first Gold Glove award. He has had the highest range factor amongst first basemen in his two full seasons, and lead the National League in that category in 2006; emblematic was the sprawling, flip-from-his-back play Pujols made to rob Placido Polanco of a hit in the 7th inning of Game 5 of the World Series.
Pujols married his wife, Deidre, on January 1, 2000. They have three children, Isabella (Deidre's daughter, adopted by Albert), Albert Jr., and Sophia. Albert and his wife are active in the cause of people with Down syndrome, as Isabella was born with this condition. In 2005 (appropriately on May 5, which would be 05/05/05, 5 being Albert's number), they launched the Pujols Family Foundation which is dedicated to "the love, care and development of people with Down syndrome and their families", as well as helping the poor in the Dominican Republic. Pujols and his wife are very active Christians; as the foundation's website says, "In the Pujols family, God is first. Everything else is a distant second." More information on the foundation can be found at their website: www.pujolsfamilyfoundation.org. He has taken part ownership in Patrick's restaurant at Westport Plaza in Maryland Heights, Missouri. The remodeled restaurant was reopened as Pujols 5 on August 30, 2006."
Pujols is close friends with second baseman Placido Polanco. The two met as teammates while playing for the St. Louis Cardinals. Pujols is godfather to Polanco's 3-year-old son, Ishmael. Placido was a second basemen on the 2006 Detroit Tigers team which lost to the Cardinals. Pujols' most recent nickname is "The Machine."
- 2005 National League MVP
- Five-time All-Star (2001, 2003-06)
- Pujols has finished in the top four in the voting for MVP of the National League every year of his career, winning once (2005) and coming in second three times (2002, 2003 & 2006).
- National League Batting Champion, 2003
- Only Ralph Kiner hit more home runs (215) in his first five seasons (2001-05) than Albert (201).
- Named to Major League Baseball's Latino Legends Team in 2005 as the starting first baseman.
- First Cardinal Home Run in New Busch Stadium
- Became the 35th batter to hit four homeruns in four consecutive at-bats, and the 20th batter to hit four home runs in four consecutive plate appearances, on April 16 and 17, 2006.
- Holds the record for most home runs in the month of April with 14 in 2006.
- Became the fastest player in Major League history to reach 19 home runs in a season, doing so on May 13, 2006.
- Became the third-fastest, after Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, to reach 25 home runs in a season, doing so on May 29, 2006.
- Became first player in MLB history to hit 30 home runs in each of his first six seasons (2001-06).
- Became the 16th batter to hit three home runs in a game twice in the same season in 2006 (04.16 & 09.03).
- Had 20 game-winning RBI in 2006, breaking Willie Mays' single-season record set in 1962.
- 2006 World Series Champion.
- Rookie of the Year, 2001
- Three-time Silver Slugger (2001, 2003-04) (Note: Pujols has won a Silver Slugger at three different positions: First Base, Third Base, and Left Field).
- National League Player of the Month for both May and June 2003 and for April 2006
- Hank Aaron Award, 2003
- TSN Player of the Year, 2003
- NLCS MVP, 2004
- National League MVP, 2005
- Gold Glove Award at first base, 2006
Hitting (through 2006)
- Each player's first six full years are averaged together:
|Pujols||Alex Rodriguez||Ken Griffey Jr.||Ted Williams||Joe DiMaggio||Hank Aaron||Barry Bonds||Babe Ruth†|
|Batting Average (BA)||.332||.281||.305||.353||.347||.321||.268||.289/.363|
|Home Runs (HR)||42||25||29||33||33||30||24||8/44|
|Runs Batted In (RBI)||126||77||91||125||136||103||76||38/136|
|Stolen Bases (SB)||6||20||15||2||4||3||35||2/13|
|Runs Scored (R)||125||82||86||135||123||102||94||34/138|
†Babe Ruth was a starting pitcher during his first six seasons of Major League Baseball. His first full season in which he was primarily a position player was 1919, in which he pitched in only 17 of the 130 games he played. Numbers to the left of the slash are for his first six seasons in MLB; numbers to the right are those for the 1919-1924 period, his first six seasons as a full-time position player.
- ↑ A.P. (2007). Pujols officially becomes U.S. citizen. Daily Vidette online.
- ↑ Mission Statement. Pujols Family Foundation. Retrieved on 2006-08-10.
- ↑ About Our Faith. Pujols Family Foundation. Retrieved on 2006-08-10.
- ↑ Pujols Swings, and it's a grand...opening. St. Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved on 2006-09-02.
- ↑ Enrique Rojas (2006-10-23). Pujols is godfather to Polanco's son. ESPN.com.
- ↑ MLB.com article on Pujols' U.S. citizenship Accessed February 8th, 2007
- ↑ Recap of first game at New Busch.
- ↑ Rick Maese (2006-10-27). Sublime Pujols has chance to be best hitter of all time. The Baltimore Sun.
- Albert Pujols official web site, the Pujols Family Foundation
- Albert Pujols at ESPN.com
- Pujols 5 Westport Grill (Albert's Restaurant) official site
- MLB.com profile
|Major League Baseball | MLB Latino Legends Team|
Iván Rodríguez |
Albert Pujols |
Rod Carew |
Edgar Martinez |
Alex Rodriguez |
Roberto Clemente |