José Alberto Pujols Alcántara (born January 16, 1980), better known as Albert Pujols (Template:IPA-es), is a professional baseball player who has played his entire career in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the St. Louis Cardinals. Currently a first baseman, Pujols is well-known for his all-around ability as a player to hit for both average and power, plus his base-running and fielding excellence. His consistency over his ten years in the Major Leagues has earned him the reputation as one of the best players in the game today and the most feared hitter in baseball, according to a poll of all 30 MLB managers in 2008. He won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2001 and has since been selected as an All-Star nine times, has won the National League Most Valuable Player Award three times, has twice won the National League Hank Aaron Award, and has a World Series ring from the Cardinals 2006 title.
As of the end of the 2010 season, he leads all active players in batting average (.331), slugging percentage (.624), and on-base percentage (.426), and ranks among the top 50 leading home run hitters in Major League Baseball history. He was selected by ESPN.com as the greatest player of the decade from 2000–2009. He stands Template:Height, weighs Template:Convert, bats and throws right-handed.
Early life and careerEdit
Born on January 16, 1980, Pujols was raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic by his grandmother. Pujols and his family immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1996, first to New York City. In the U.S., Pujols displayed his hitting skill by batting over .500 in his first season at Fort Osage High School in Independence, Missouri, twice earning all-state honors. Pujols graduated from high school in December 1998. He attended Maple Woods Community College in the Kansas City area in spring of 1999. In his only college season, Pujols hit a grand slam and turned an unassisted triple play in his first game. He batted .461 for the year.
Professional baseball careerEdit
Few major league teams were very interested in Pujols out of high school, but he was finally drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 MLB Draft, with the 402nd overall pick. However, Pujols initially turned down a US $10,000 bonus and opted to play in the Jayhawk League in Kansas instead. The Cardinals increased their bonus offer to $60,000, Pujols signed, and was assigned to the minor leagues.
In 2000, Pujols played for the Peoria Chiefs of the single-A Midwest League, where he was voted league MVP. Pujols quickly progressed through the ranks of the St. Louis farm clubs, first at the Potomac Cannons in the high-A Carolina League and then with the Memphis Redbirds in the Class AAA Pacific Coast League.
Major league careerEdit
During the 2001 season, the team was preparing for Pujols to be sent to Memphis-AAA. However, Pujols' outstanding play, combined with injuries on the big league roster allowed Pujols the opportunity to begin the season in the majors. Pujols started his major league career playing third base. During his rookie season, he started at 4 different positions (1B, 3B, LF, and RF).
In May, he was named National League Rookie of the Month and was named to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. In the second half of the season, Pujols had a on-base streak of 48 consecutive games from July 28 to September 22. Pujols' successful rookie season helped the Cardinals tie for the National League Central Division title. In 2001, Pujols batted .329 with 37 home runs and 130 RBI, and was unanimously named the National League Rookie of the Year. His 37 home runs were one short of the National League rookie record of 38 and his 130 RBI set an NL rookie record.
Following an injury scare in 2003, Pujols was moved to first base and had one of the best offensive seasons in Cardinals history, batting .359 with 43 home runs, and 124 RBIs. He won the NL batting title while also leading the league in runs, hits, doubles, extra base hits, and total bases. Pujols joined Rogers Hornsby as the only players in Cardinals' history to record 40+ homers and 200+ hits in the same season and had a 30-game hitting streak in 2003.
In 2004, Pujols signed a seven-year, $100 million contract extension with a $16 million club option for 2011 with no trade provisions.
Throughout the year, Pujols was plagued by plantar fasciitis, but was still hitting .331 with 46 home runs and 123 RBIs. Pujols, along with teammates Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen, earned the nickname 'MV3' for their phenomenal season. He was named the MVP of the 2004 NLCS, helping his team reach the World Series.
In 2005 season Pujols established career highs in walks and stolen bases, while leading his team in almost every offensive category. He finished batting .330 with 41 home runs (including his 200th career homer), 117 RBIs, 97 walks, and 16 stolen bases and won the 2005 National League MVP award.
In the NLCS the Cardinals were eliminated in six games by the Houston Astros. With the Cardinals trailing by 2 runs and only one out from elimination Pujols hit a game-winning three-run home run that landed on the train tracks in the back of Minute Maid Park.
Early in the 2006 season, Pujols became the 35th player to hit home runs in four consecutive at-bats, and the 20th batter to hit four home runs in four consecutive plate appearances. He set the record for the most home runs hit in April of the season, at 14—and became the fastest player in major league history to reach 19 home runs in a season. On April 16 of that year, he hit three home runs in a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium, the last one a walk-off home run that gave the Cardinals an 8–7 victory. In June he was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career, missing 15 games. He started at first base for the NL All-Star team and finished the season with a .331 batting average, establishing new career-highs in slugging percentage (in which he led the majors), 49 home runs (second) and 137 RBIs (second). Of his 49 home runs, 20 accounted for a game-winning RBI, breaking Willie Mays' single-season record set in 1962.
After having shared the lead for errors at his position in 2005, Pujols' defensive improvements earned him his first Gold Glove award in 2006. He had the highest range factor among first basemen in his two full seasons at the position, and led the National League in that category; emblematic was a sprawling, flip-from-his-back play to save a hit in Game 5 of the World Series.
He hit his 25th home run on August 15, making him the fifth player to hit 25 home runs in his first seven seasons in the major leagues, and the first since Darryl Strawberry. On August 22, he hit his 30th home run of the season, becoming the first major league player to hit at least 30 home runs in each of his first 7 seasons. It was his fifth consecutive game with a home run, tying the Cardinals' single-season record.
Pujols notched his 100th RBI for the seventh consecutive year, to be only the third player to accomplish that from the start of his career.
In June Pujols went on the 15-day disabled list for only the second time in his career. Pujols won his seventh career NL Player of the Week award for Aug. 18–24. He got his 1,500th career hit on August 30, against the Houston Astros. His 30th home run on September 1, and his 100th RBI on September 11, made him the first player in MLB history to start his career with eight seasons of at least 30 HR, 100 RBIs, a .300 BA, and 99 runs.
On October 13, Pujols elected to have surgery on his troubled right elbow, "a procedure that included decompression and transposition of the ulnar nerve" but not the more invasive Tommy John surgery to relieve persistent pain.
Pujols won a number of awards for 2008, including the Players Choice National League Outstanding Player of the Year, and Players Choice Player of the Year (his second Player of the Year Award, having also won in 2003; he joined Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds as two-time winners). Pujols was also named The Sporting News Player of the Year for the second time in his career. On October 25, Pujols was named the 2008 winner of the Roberto Clemente Award for the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement, and the individual's contribution to his team.
Pujols won the Fielding Bible Award for defensive excellence at first base for the third consecutive year. For the third time in four years, Pujols was named NL Most Valuable Player in the annual Internet Baseball Awards, a poll conducted by Baseball Prospectus. Pujols also won his fourth Silver Slugger award, having previously won one at 3B in 2001, OF in 2003, and 1B in 2004.
After the season Pujols won his second NL MVP Award. The MVP award continues his streak of finishing in the top nine in the BBWAA voting every year of the first 8 years of his career. He ended the year by winning TYIB's 'Hitter of the Year' Award.
In May he hit a memorable upper-deck HR off the "Big Mac Land" sign in left field, causing the "I" in "Big" to be knocked out.
Pujols was the leading vote-getter for the 2009 MLB All-Star Game, receiving the highest number of votes in NL history thus far. For the All-Star Game, which took place at his home ballpark of Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Pujols participated in the Home Run Derby and caught President Barack Obama's ceremonial first pitch before the All-Star Game.
The 2009 season marked the ninth consecutive season since the start of his career that he has reached 100 or more RBI and 30 or more doubles, and the fifth time he has hit 40+ home runs and won his first home run title. In 2009 Pujols also played his 1,000th game at first base and also hit his 40th double of the season, making him the second player in major league history to hit 40 doubles and 40 home runs in three separate seasons (2003, 2004, 2009), joining Lou Gehrig and was a league leader in a variety of offensive categories.
Following the season, Pujols won the Sporting News "MLB Player of the Year" award for the second consecutive year, and his third (2003) overall. He is just the third player in the history of the award to win in consecutive seasons. Boston Red Sox outfielder Ted Williams won the award in 1941–1942, and Cincinnati Reds second baseman Joe Morgan did so in 1975–76.
He became the 161st player to hit 400 doubles in his career on May 20, 2010. On May 30, he had his 36th career multihomer game at Wrigley Field hitting 3 home runs. Later in June he had his 37th career multihomer game at Busch Stadium tying Stan Musial's franchise record by a Cardinals' player.
On August 15, Pujols hit his 30th home run of the season extending his own major league record of most consecutive 30 home run seasons (10) to begin a career starting with his rookie year. On August 26, he became the 47th player to hit his 400th career home run, and the first in major league history to do it in his first 10 seasons. It was against the Washington Nationals in the fourth inning at their ballpark against Jordan Zimmermann. In the same game later, he hit his 30th double (#417 career) of the season, extending his consecutive years of 30+ doubles in a season to all 10 of his playing years. Pujols is the third-youngest player in Major League history to reach the milestone, at 30 years, seven months and 10 days (30,222 days). Only Ken Griffey Jr. (30,140 days) and Alex Rodriguez (29,316 days) hit 400 at an earlier age. Only four players in the history of the game reached their 400th homer in fewer at-bats than Pujols, who got there in career at-bat No. 5,617: Mark McGwire (4,726), Babe Ruth (4,853), Harmon Killebrew (5,300), and Jim Thome (5,416).
He won the NL Player of the Month Award in August for the sixth time, more than any active NL player, hitting .379 (2nd) with 11 home runs (1st), 23 RBIs (T5th), .777 slugging (1st), and .453 on-base percentage (2nd).
On September 11, Pujols reached 100 RBIs for the 10th consecutive year and drove in all three runs in the game, giving him 102 for the season. Only Al Simmons has a longer streak at the beginning of a career, 11 years (1924–1934). Pujols joins Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, and Alex Rodriguez in having 10 consecutive seasons of 100+ RBIs at any time in their career. Only two players besides Pujols have 10 consecutive years of 30 HRs and 100 RBIs at any time in their careers: Foxx and Rodriguez.
On September 12, he passed Stan Musial to be the all-time Cardinals' leader in multi-HR games when he hit two home runs (38 and 39) for the 38th time in a game. It was the fifth time this year he has hit two home runs in a game.
On September 23, he reached 40 home runs for the sixth time in his career at Pittsburgh, hitting two at PNC Park giving him an NL-leading 41 for the season, 112 RBIs, and extending his own record there to 26 home runs, which is also the most for him at any road ballpark. Only six other players have more than six 40-HR seasons. He also added to his Cardinals' franchise record of 39 career multi-HR games.
On Jan. 15, he informed the Cardinals through his agent that the start of Spring Training would be the deadline to have a new contract in place. 
Pujols married his wife, Deidre, on January 1, 2000. They have four children, Isabella (Deidre's daughter, from a previous relationship), Albert Jr., Sophia, and Ezra. Albert and his wife are active in the cause of people with Down syndrome, as Isabella was born with this condition. He has taken part-ownership in Patrick's Restaurant in Maryland Heights, Missouri. The remodeled restaurant was re-opened as Pujols 5 in 2006.
Pujols is close friends with third baseman Plácido Polanco, a former teammate with the St. Louis Cardinals. Pujols is godfather to Polanco's 3-year-old son, Ismael. Polanco and Pujols played on opposite teams in the 2006 World Series.
In 2007 Pujols became a U.S. citizen, scoring a perfect 100 on his citizenship test. Later that year Upper Deck Authenticated announced it had signed Pujols to an exclusive autographed memorabilia agreement.
Pujols and his wife are active Christians; his foundation's website states, "In the Pujols family, God is first. Everything else is a distant second."
Pujols and Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa attended Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor rally in Washington, D.C., after being assured by Beck that the rally was not political. During the rally, Pujols was presented with a "Badge of Merit" for "Hope."
Pujols Family FoundationEdit
In 2005, Albert and Deidre Pujols 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 has taken several trips to the Dominican Republic, by taking supplies as well as a team of doctors and dentists to the poor who need medical care. The Pujols Family Foundation also holds an annual golf tournament in which members from the Cardinals and other people play golf to raise money to send dentists to the Dominican Republic.
A new center for adults with Down syndrome that will bear his name ("Albert Pujols Wellness Center for Adults with Down Syndrome") is scheduled to open in November 2009 in Chesterfield, Missouri. He was there when it was launched on November 18, 2009.
Pujols is one of the greatest players in modern Major League Baseball because of his performance before he turned 30. By the end of the 2009 season, Pujols ranked in the top 15 players in major league history in four statistical categories: on-base percentage (twelfth), slugging percentage (fourth), on-base plus slugging (OPS; fourth), and adjusted OPS (tied for sixth). He also ranks in the top 500 players in major league history in a variety of statistical categories (see below), and is a three-time MVP.
From 2001 to 2005, Pujols hit 201 home runs, second all-time for the most hit in a player's first five seasons. By 2009, he had reached the 350-homer plateau at the age of 29—the third-youngest to do so—and surpassed Ralph Kiner's record for most home runs in his first nine seasons. In doing so, Pujols became the first player to hit 30 or more home runs in the first nine seasons of his career (extended it to 10 in 2010), as well the second player to have 100 or more RBIs in the same timespan.
Pujols holds the Cardinals' franchise record for most career grand slams; he broke the record of nine previously held by Stan Musial. Musial and Pujols are also two of only four players in history to have a career batting average above .330 and less than 500 strikeouts at the time of their 300th home runs (the other two being Musial's contemporaries Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio).
In his first 5,000 career at bats, Pujols had amassed 372 doubles, 358 home runs, and 14 triples for a total of 744 extra-base hits, the most in NL history, and is the second player in Major League Baseball to post nine consecutive seasons with 30 doubles, a .300 batting average, 30 home runs, and 100 runs batted in or better (Lou Gehrig). He has scored 100 or more runs in nine of his ten seasons. (He scored 99 runs in the only season when he did not score 100 runs). He currently has eight career walk-off home runs. His 1,230 RBI is second all-time among Cardinal players, only Stan Musial (1,951) has more.
In the field, Pujols has set the Cardinals' franchise record for the most assists by a first baseman in a single game (seven). In 2009, he also set the National League record for assists by a first baseman in a season (182), and in the last game of the 2009 season, he broke Bill Buckner's 1985 major league mark of 184 with his 185th assist. Keith Hernandez held the previous Cardinals' record with 146 assists in 1979, and Mark Grace held the previous NL record with 181 in 1990.
In spite of his accomplishments, Pujols has said he does not play solely for the numbers. "I don't play for numbers. I play first of all to glorify God and to accomplish in this game what everybody wants to accomplish, which is getting to the World Series and coming up with a win at the end. Those are the things that I really try to focus on and try to make sure that I do every day for the rest of my career."
Awards and honorsEdit
|TOTALS (10 yrs.)||1,558||5,733||1,186||1,900||426||15||408||1,230||75||34||914||646||.331||.426||.624||1.050||3,580||203||73||1||61||236||172|
- Template:Note labelG=games played; AB=at bats; R=runs; H=hits; 2B=doubles; 3B=triples; HR=home runs; RBI=runs batted in; SB=stolen bases; CS=times caught stealing; BB=walks; SO=strikeouts; BA=batting average; OBP=on-base percentage; SLG=slugging percentage; OPS=on-base plus slugging; TB=total bases; GIDP=times grounded into double play; HBP=times hit by pitch; SH=sacrifice hits; SF=sacrifice flies; IBB=intentional walks; OPS+=adjusted OPS
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