With Tony La Russa retired and Albert Pujols weighing other offers, we look back at a historic manager-player partnership.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
In a piece that originally ran as an "Inside the Park" column on December 8, 2010 and which will also be appearing in the soon-to-be-released Best of Baseball Prospectus, Bradford Doolittle wrote about the special La Russa-Pujols era in St. Louis.
A humor-tinged recap of one of the most exciting World Series of our generation
Track #1: Iron Maiden: “The Duelist” “Ready to start the duel begins the best man wins in the end.
A lunge and a feint, a parry too late
A cut to the chest and you're down
Seeing the stain then feeling the pain
Feeling the sweat on your brow.”
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Albert Pujols makes history in the process of putting the Cardinals up 2-1.
"When you have the bat in your hand, you can always change the story," said Reggie Jackson years ago. Mired in the controversy regarding a post-Game Two no-show following his ninth-inning relay flub, Albert Pujols changed the story on Saturday night, becoming just the third player ever to hit three home runs in a World Series game and collecting five hits en route to a Series-record 14 total bases. Before hitting his first home run, Pujols had already collected two hits while helping the Cardinals build an 8-6 lead; his three-run, sixth-inning homer off Alexi Ogando broke the game open en route to a 16-7 rout and a 2-1 Series lead. The Cardinals' 16 runs tied the 2002 Giants and 1960 Yankees for the second-highest single-game total in Series history.
How the Cards can cope with the abdication of Prince Albert (and its implications for his payday), a Barton in hand becomes one in the bushes, and the D'backs, Braves, and Giants pursue blasts from the past for their benches.
A look at the first basemen on this year's Hall of Fame ballot.
Having kicked off this year's JAWS series with the starting pitchers, today we turn our attention to the first basemen, a slate which includes the ballot's best newcomer as well as its most controversial first-timer, and a few holdovers who aren't going anywhere for entirely different reasons.
The Tony La Russa-Albert Pujols era in St. Louis is nearly unprecedented.
It’s the last day of the season at Wrigley Field and I’m determined to wait out Albert Pujols.
I’ve been assigned to cover the Cardinals for the weekend series, the last three games at the antique ballpark in the 2010 season. Before each game, I spend about three hours hanging around the Cardinals in the visiting team clubhouse at Wrigley—a dank, cramped space that isn’t as big as the locker room at the high school I attended in small-town Iowa. It’s an awkward setup, leaving you hovering around 30-35 big-league personnel with no place to stand. On the flip side, there really is no place for them to hide. If you need to interview someone, this is the place to do it. Only the most resolute can avoid the press in there.
The Jaffe Ugly MVP Predictor returns to forecast tight races for the award in both leagues.
Last year, our friends at ESPN tasked me with building an MVP predictor in the spirit of a system such as Bill James' Hall of Fame Monitor, one that awards points for various accomplishments in an attempt to identify who will win as opposed to who should win. Limiting my scope to the post-strike timeframe to take advantage of the fact that none of the ensuing winners were pitchers, that all of them save for the 2003 version of Alex Rodriguez came from teams that finished above .500, and that 22 of the 28 hailed from teams that qualified for the expanded postseason, I built a carefully-gerrymandered system—Jaffe's Ugly MVP Predictor (JUMP)—that could identify ("predict") 14 winners, and put 27 out of 28 winners in its top three in points for that year.
Albert Pujols and Joey Votto both have a chance at the first Triple Crown since 1967, if Omar Infante doesn't get in the way.
At the end of last week I wrote about the idea that a Triple Crown is not a far-fetched feat this season. Miguel Cabrera is very unlikely to supplant Josh Hamilton atop the American League batting leaderboard, but in the National League, sluggers Joey Votto and Albert Pujols find themselves ranked first or second in all three categories. To make matters more interesting, each is within striking distance of one another in the categories as well, meaning that over the next month we might bear witness to a race almost as noteworthy as that which centers on qualifying for post-season play. The main reason I argued that a Triple Crown could be achieved this year is that the number of specialists had declined; that is, there didn’t seem to be anyone running away with the batting title who didn’t hit home runs or knock runners in, and Ryan Howard was not going to mash 45-plus homers this season.
No one has won the league batting, home run, and RBI titles in the same season since 1967, but that could change this year.
Baseball is a game of inches, but those inches help shape the numbers produced for each and every player. A line drive an inch more to the right of third base will elude the long arms of Ryan Zimmerman and result in a hit, and a big fly an inch to the left of the foul pole could be the difference between a loud strike and a walk-off win. In most cases, any type of luck based on inches is expected to wash out over the course of a season, but there are currently three players vying for the coveted Triple Crown in their respective leagues for whom the aforementioned liners and dingers could make all the difference in the world. These players are Miguel Cabrera in the American League and Central Division rivals Albert Pujols and Joey Votto in the National League.
Last week saw a pair of future Hall of Famers officially hang up their spikes. The decisions weren't surprising, in that neither Frank Thomas nor Tom Glavine actually played in 2009 after seeing only limited duty and success in 2008. Both are well over 40 years old, both have reached milestones that virtually guarantee entry into Cooperstown, and both deserve to be hailed for their outstanding careers. Today, I'll dig into Thomas' case, saving Glavine for later in the week.