Best Cardinal

Albert Pujols

Obscured by all the drama, melodrama and misery of this baseball season, from the deaths of Jack Buck and Darryl Kile to the barely avoided work stoppage, there is Albert Pujols. The season isn't finished, and Pujols already has more than 100 RBIs and 100 runs scored, both for the second straight year. The ridiculous part of that statistic is that Pujols has only been in the major leagues this year and last year. He is 22 years old. After his first two years, he has a "career" total of more than 200 RBIs and 200 runs scored. He is not a fluke. Pitchers and teams have seen him dozens of times, and they still haven't solved him. In his rookie season, he tied for the lead in the National League for game-winning RBIs. He set the record for National League rookies with 130 RBIs. Born in the Dominican Republic, he moved to Independence, Missouri, when he was 16. He was All-State twice in high school and graduated from Fort Osage High School in Independence before going to Maple Woods College in Kansas City. He spent one year in the minors before making the Cardinals in spring training last year after Bobby Bonilla pulled a hamstring. Bobby Bo or no, this man would not have gone unnoticed.

It's near the end of the year, and no one has yet figured him out. Baseball takes great comfort in statistics, but to compare numbers between one era and another is tricky. It's hard to gauge which player had the best first two years in the majors. But whenever that debate is pursued, Albert Pujols' name is going to be mentioned. Poo-holes: Get used to saying it. He's going to be the talk of this town for a long time. All he needs is a nickname.

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