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How does Albert Pujols Compare to Babe Ruth?

Thursday March 8th, 2012

*In this article, I refer to Hank Aaron as the Home Run King, as I believe that Barry Bonds does not deserve any recognition for his steroid use, and should therefore be excluded from the record books.*

Bryan Sheehan: When it comes to baseball royalty, there aren’t many that can come close to the Sultan of Swat and Prince Albert. Babe Ruth and Albert Pujols, respectively, are two players that have each had an enormous impact within their era of play. For Ruth, it was defining the “power-hitter”, as he crushed 714 home runs (second only to Hank Aaron) and 2213 RBIs in his 22 years of MLB ball. As for Pujols, his power numbers (445 home runs and 1329 RBIs in 11 seasons) are made even greater by the fact that he remained untangled in the web that was the steroid scandal of the early millennium. But how do the Machine and the Bambino compare to each other?

baseballcube.com

Taking a quick glance at raw career numbers, the stats show that Ruth leads Albert almost across the board. From slugging percentage (Ruth’s .690 against Pujols’ .617) to ISO (.348 to .288) and even batting average (.342 to .328), Babe seems to have the upper hand over Pujols. But, when looking at the career trends in certain stats, the two instantly become closer.

courtesy of fangraphs.com

For example, in the graph above, career home runs versus age is compared. Though Babe has almost 300 more, he played eleven more seasons than Pujols. At age 30,Babe was nowhere near what Pujols had accomplished. In fact, if Pujols can repeat his stats over the next eleven years, he’ll end his career with an incredible 890 dingers. While obviously this stat will gradually decline over the course of Pujols’ 10 year contract with the Angels, he’s in his prime and will continue to bang the ball out of the park at a high rate. The Great Bambino had his best seasons in his mid-thirties, a possible foreshadowing of Pujols’ career from nearly a century ago.

That isn’t to say that Pujols is better than Ruth, though.  Ruth played in the Deadball era, where pitching was slightly better than today. In the 22 years that Babe played, the average ERA was 3.73, compared to an average 4.32 ERA in the eleven years Pujols has played in. Ruth also holds the MLB record for career slugging percentage at .690, and is widely recognized as the greatest of all time.

Along with being the most well-recognized player in baseball history, Ruth was also the centerpiece in the most prolific curse in MLB history. In December 1919, he was sold from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees, thus beginning the Curse of the Bambino. Before moving, Babe had won four World Series rings in six seasons, playing as an all-star caliber pitcher until his last season with the club, where he moved to the outfield and had 114 RBIs.

So what does this have to do with Albert Pujols? Well, being this generation’s hitting equivalent, his move from St Louis (his only career team) to Anaheim was extremely publicized. Considering the strength of the Angels prior to the Pujols move, it isn’t that much of a stretch to compare them to the Yankees of the Roaring ’20s? I don’t want to get ahead of myself and compare a team that hasn’t yet played a game to arguably the greatest team of all time, but time will tell if the Angels can be perennially dominant.

 

Today’s feature was prepared by  Baseball Writer, Bryan Sheehan.  You can follow Bryan on Twitter (@BaseballHipster), read his interviews with Phillies’ minor league prospects at PhightingOn.com, and catch him writing the occasional article for ThroughTheFenceBaseball.com. Tweet him about this article and give him a follow and he will follow you back!

 

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Posted on March 8, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on How does Albert Pujols Compare to Babe Ruth?.

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