Monday marked the start of a new era for Albert Pujols, who reported to Angels camp after signing a 10-year deal with the team in the offseason. His accolades already put him in elite company, as he's one of six players to hit 400 career home runs and bat at least .325 (Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig and Stan Musial).
Pujols’ 445 home runs through his first 11 seasons are the most all-time through a player’s initial 11 years in the majors, and the question will be whether he can eclipse the career mark of 762 home runs set by Barry Bonds.
Pujols MLB Ranks Through 1st 11 Seasons
For starters, moving from Busch Stadium to Angel Stadium is a slightly favorable transition for a right-handed home-run hitter.
Over the last three seasons, there have been 236 homers hit by right-handed hitters in Cardinals home games, compared to 326 hit by the Cardinals and their opponents right-handed hitters in road games. That converts to a Ballpark Factor of 74, the second-worst in MLB for a right-handed power hitter.
Over the same span, Angel Stadium has a Ballpark Factor of 96, which is near the MLB average. Therefore, if a right-handed hitter has 20 home runs in a season in Busch, that converts to 24.7 home runs in Angel Stadium.
Pujols also represents a significant upgrade for the Angels at the number three spot in the lineup. Last season, the Angels had just 67 RBI from that position in the lineup, which ranked last in the American League. Pujols, meanwhile, had 99 RBI batting third last year.
A potential concern surrounding Pujols is his declining Wins Above Replacement, however. In 2008, his WAR was 9.1, but in each season since that number has steadily declined (5.1 last season).
In addition, the parallels between Pujols and Alex Rodriguez are very similar. Pujols will be in his age-32 season in 2012, the start of his contract. Rodriguez’s 10-year, $275M deal also began in his age-32 season. Rodriguez has steadily declined since signing that contract; in his final year prior to signing, Rodriguez posted a WAR of 9.8, the third-highest mark by an AL position player in the Wild Card era. Last year, that figure had dipped to 4.2.