The St. Louis Cardinals fans should, again, stop and thank John Mozeliak and company for not continuing a bidding war for Albert Pujols. The $240 million man has been labeled “The Worst Player in Baseball” by a sports blog – and they’ve got pretty good reasoning to back it up.
On Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Angels designated hitter hit two home runs, driving in four runs, and scored three times. His homers moved him into a tie with Jim Thome for seventh place on the all-time list, with 612.
Then a few hours later, he was placed at the very top of another list.
FiveThirtyEight, a subset sports blog for ESPN, labeled him the “Worst Player in Baseball,” siting his WAR of -1.99 which is the worst among all major leaguers this year, according to multiple statistical websites.
In the 2011 offseason St. Louis was looking to resign the slugger, who’d just won a second World Series in St. Louis. But LA clearly wanted him more, offering a 10-year deal that will keep him on the payroll through the 2021 season (and pay him $30 million in that final season).
In return, St. Louis would receive compensatory draft picks that turned into Michael Wacha (19th overall) and Stephen Piscotty (36th overall). Their WAR’s this year .09 and .05, respectively. Not good, but their combined salary is just 15 percent of Pujols’ $26 million tab this season.
Being called the “worst” is bad, but Pujols is a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer. He’s come a long way since his years as the league’s best player (with the best WAR in the majors in 2006, 2008 and 2009), but he’s obviously not the least talented player in baseball. He just isn’t succeeding in as many opportunities as he did in the past.
He’s still could hit 25 home runs and drive in 100 RBI this season, for the 14th time in his career.
The least talented player in baseball, FiveThirtyEight explains, is probably “a fringe player who was called up at midseason and rarely plays.”
But St. Louis fans should keep this in mind, when stories of the Cardinals pursuit of Giancarlo Stanton come out. He’ll be paid $25 million as a 38-year-old (one year older than Pujols is now) at the end of the 13-year contract he signed with Miami.