2010 Year In Review: Cardinals First Base
Entrenched at first base for the last seven seasons in St. Louis has been Cardinal mainstay Albert Pujols. The year in and year our MVP candidate has been producing at such a high clip for such a long time, Cardinal fans are shocked when they don’t see him in the line-up.
The production is impressive. What is perhaps more impressive is the ability to put up the numbers at such a consistent rate. At the beginning of 2010 though, onlookers were wondering if there was something wrong with Albert. He entered into one of his worst droughts at the plate in his career this summer, was swinging at more pitchers outside the zone, and overall did not look like he was totally locked in at the plate. All that being said, Pujols still had people talking Triple Crown as he and Cincinnati slugger Joey Votto were hunting for it in August.
It may seem have seemed like a down year for Albert. He did strikeout at a 12.9% clip, his highest since his rookie year but still has some of the best plate discipline in the league. His power was right in line with his career averages. He led the National League in home runs (42), runs batted in (118), runs scored (115), and intentional walks (38). He even socked his 400th career home run on August 26th. Just for kicks, you can see a tracker of every home run Pujols has hit here.
Pujols did have a career low .312 batting average in 2010 but had his best year in fielding percentage only making 4 errors and is a candidate for his second gold glove award. Pujols only took 5 games off this season. In his stead, Allen Craig played 5 games (17 innings) and Mark Hamilton played 4 games (21 innings). Neither player can count on seeing much time at the bag in the future as long as Albert stays healthy. They both have proved themselves at the AAA level and do serve as serviceable back-ups or perhaps trade bait for other clubs. Hamilton hit .298 with 18 HR and 60 RBI at Memphis in 2010. Craig saw more time with the parent club, playing more in the outfield, in his first 124 Major League at-bats he hit .246 with 4 HR and 18 RBI, in his other 350 at-bats at AAA, Craig produced at his normal clip of .320/14/81. With his versatility to play the outfield and more major league ready bat Craig seemed to establish himself as the back up at the first base slot for the Redbirds in 2010.
The Redbirds currently have one who will be no doubt be recorded as the best Cardinal’s first basemen of all-time. Albert Pujols continues to produce and overall enjoyed another great year in 2010.