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  • Caesar Cliffius

    My name is Cliff Eastham. I live in West Virginia with my wife Debbie, the loveliest lady in the world, and my youngest daughter, Holly who is equally as lovely as her mother.

    I enjoy writing about sports, and love a good healthy debate. My favorite teams are the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Redskins.

    There are only a couple of sports that I don't write about, Hockey and Soccer specifically. My favorite sports are Baseball, Boxing, NFL, NCAA Basketball, MMA.

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    It is decreed.....Caesar Cliffius
    this 8th day of December, in the Year of our Lord 2009.

Is Albert Pujols the Best Cardinal Ever, Including Stan Musial ?

As you know, Albert Pujols recently won his second consecutive National League Most Valuable Player Award. He didn’t just win it, he won it unanimously. Every single voter had him as their No. 1 pick.

Pujols’ exploits have been well chronicled. I think he is the best baseball player who is currently playing baseball on Planet Earth. Some would disagree, but that is the prerogative of baseball fans everywhere.

While we shower Prince Albert with praise that he is absolutely deserving of, I would like to ask a question. Is he the best player to ever play for the St. Louis Cardinals ?

All you must do is look out front of Busch Stadium to see the statue of the “face of the franchise,  Stan “The Man” Musial, to see his only competitor for that particular honor. You need look no further.

Stan Musial was one of the greatest players to ever play the game of baseball. He played 22 seasons, all with the Cards, from 1941 until 1963. He is a three-time winner of the MVP award—as is Pujols, was on 24 All-Star teams (two games were played from 1959-62) at four different positions.

Musial also won seven batting titles, two RBI Crowns, was the league leader in runs scored five times, in hits six times, had over 200 hits six times, led the league in doubles eight times, triples five times, in OBP six times, in SLG six times, in OPS seven times, and OPS+ six times (once at 200). He also was the league leader in total bases six times. His career OPS+ is 159. In 17 seasons, he batted over .300, 16 consecutively. He also hit 30 or more HR six times, and drove in over 100 runs 10 times, while scoring over 100 runs 11 times.

In 24 All-Star appearances (a record he shares with Willie Mays and Hank Aaron) he hit six HR (a record which still stands), 10 RBI and batted .317.

His career stats are nearly unbelievable.

BA=.331, R=1949, H=3630 (1815 at home, 1815 away), HR=475, RBI=1951.

Pujols, like Musial, hit the ground running. In 2001, he won the Rookie of the Year award while putting up MVP-type numbers: 37 HR, 130 RBI, and a .329 average.

He has played nine seasons thus far and .314 is the lowest season average he has posted. He has hit over 40 HR five times, while belting 30 or more the other four. He has had at least 103 RBI each season he has played.

In 2003, he won the National League batting title with a .359 average. This past season (2009) he won his first HR crown, with 47. He led the league in hits in 2003 with 212. He has been on the All-Star team each year with the exception of 2002 when he placed second in the MVP voting. He led the league in OBP once, in SLG three times, OPS three times and OPS+ three times. He was also the league leader in TB four times.

In seven All-Star appearances Pujols has batted .353 with three RBI.

His career numbers are as unbelievable—albeit incomplete—as Musial’s.

BA=.334, R=1071, H=1717, HR=366, RBI=1112. His career OPS+ is 172.

Two great players from two time periods on the same squad. Obviously if Pujols continues to put up the crazy numbers we have become accustomed to expect for a few more years, he will surpass many of Stan’s numbers and be the best Cardinal ever.

Until that day, I believe Stan Musial is still the best Cardinal in history.

What are your thoughts?

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report, where this article was first published.

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