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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Albert Pujols

José Alberto Pujols Alcántara, born January 16, 1980, better known as Albert Pujols , is a Dominican-American professional baseball player who is currently a free agent. A first baseman, Pujols is considered one of the top players in Major League Baseball, and was the most feared hitter in baseball in 2008, according to a poll of all 30 MLB managers.
He won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2001, and has since been selected as an All-Star nine times, and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award three times. He has also twice won the National League Hank Aaron Award, and has two World Series rings from the Cardinals' 2006 and 2011 titles.
At the end of the 2011 season, he led all active players in batting average (.328),[4] slugging percentage (.617), and OPS (1.037), and ranked 37th in number of home runs in Major League Baseball history. He was selected by ESPN.com as the greatest player of the decade from 2000–09. He stands 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) tall, weighs 230 pounds (100 kg), and bats and throws right-handed.

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 then (after Albert witnessed a shooting) to Independence, Missouri.
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 career

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 $10,000 bonus and opted to play for the Hays Larks in Hays, Kansas in Jayhawk League of the National Baseball Congress 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.

During the 2001 season, the team was preparing to send Pujols 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.During spring training Mark McGwire reportedly told Tony La Russa "If you don't put this guy on the roster for the 2001 season, it might be one of the worst moves you make in your career." 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 RBIs, 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 RBIs set an NL rookie record.
In 2002, Pujols was moved to left field to accommodate Scott Rolen, and hit .314 with 34 homers and 127 RBIs.
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 still hit .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, where they were swept by the Boston Red Sox in four games.

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. He became the only major leaguer to have had a 30-homer, 100-RBI season in each of his first five years. On defense, he tied for the lead among all major league first basemen in errors, with 14.
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.

Pujols participating in the 2009 Home Run Derby
Pujols declined to play in the World Baseball Classic for his native Dominican Republic, because of insurance issues relating to his off-season right elbow surgery in October 2008.
In May he hit an 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.
Later that year he was awarded the Sporting News "MLB Player of the Decade".
Pujols was also named the NL MVP for the third time, tying Stan Musial as the St. Louis Cardinals' leader in that category. He won the Babe Ruth Home Run Award after leading MLB with 47 home runs.
He had surgery to remove five bone spurs from his right elbow.

Pujols homered twice on Opening Day (April 5) and later surpassed Eddie Mathews' old record (370 in 1952–1961) for most home runs in his first 10 years.
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. Only Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez 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. At season's end, Pujols became the second player in the last sixty years (the first was Hank Aaron), to lead the National League in runs, home runs, and runs batted in, and not be named Most Valuable Player.
He won his second Gold Glove Award, his first since 2006. He won the NL First Base Silver Slugger Award and finished second in the NL MVP race to Joey Votto.

Last at-bat of the 2011 World Series against Rangers relief pitcher Mike Adams.
Pujols and the Cardinals set a deadline for the start of spring training for contract extension negotiations. Negotiations were suspended without an agreement.
He began the season hitting .245 with a .305 OBP, and .453 SLG through April. He did hit 7 home runs and 18 RBIs, but also had a league-leading 9 grounded into double plays.
On June 4, he recorded his 41st career multi-HR game. On June 4 and 5, he had consecutive walk-off home runs in extra-innings, becoming only the third player to do that since 1950. They also were his 6th and 7th extra-inning walk-off home runs [9th and 10th total] in his career, ranking #2 behind Frank Robinson and Jim Thome who have eight, since 1950, tying Mickey Mantle. After the game on June 5, manager Tony La Russa reported his autographing a picture of himself with Pujols after the 2001 playoff season ended (Pujols' first season in the majors), inscribing it, "To Albert, The best player I've ever managed."
For the week of May 30 – June 5, he was named NL Player of the Week for the first time since June 15–21, 2009, hitting .444 (12-for-27), with five HRs, ten RBIs, and a 1.620 OPS. His 12 hits and five walks led the NL, while his 1.074 slugging percentage, 29 total bases, and 11 runs scored led the major leagues.
On June 19, against the Royals, both Wilson Betemit and Pete Kozma collided with Pujols, causing a small fracture in the left wrist-forearm. He was activated from the disabled list on July 5, after the minimum 15-days.
On July 30, at Busch Stadium in the eighth inning against the Cubs, he got his 2,000th career hit, a double down the left-field line. It was in his 1,650th game, becoming the fifth Cardinal player to get 2,000 hits, joining Stan Musial (3,630), Lou Brock (2,713), Rogers Hornsby (2,110), and Enos Slaughter (2,064). He is the 12th quickest player by games to get to 2,000.
On August 14, facing the Rockies, he hit the longest home run at Busch Stadium, estimated to be about 465 feet.
He missed extending his record to 11 consecutive seasons from the start of his career on hitting .300 with 30+ home runs and 100 RBIs, when he hit 37 home runs but batted .299 and had 99 RBIs in 147 games played in missing 13 games due to injury. Despite the career lows in batting average and RBIs and a home run total that was five from his career worst, Pujols was matched by only three other players in the majors in those categories—Jose Bautista, Prince Fielder and Matt Kemp. The New York Times wrote, "Even when Pujols struggles, he excels." He won his fifth Fielding Bible Award as the best defensive first baseman in MLB.

On October 22, in Game 3 of the World Series, Pujols joined Babe Ruth (1926, 1928) and Reggie Jackson (1977) as the only players in baseball history to hit three home runs in a World Series game. Pujols was 5-for-6 with two singles, four runs scored, and six RBIs.[78] Pujols became the first player in World Series history to get hits in four consecutive innings: fourth (a single), fifth (a single), sixth (a home run and three RBIs), and seventh (home run and two RBIs). He tied records for most home runs (three), most hits (five), and most RBIs (six) in a World Series game, and established a new record with 14 total bases. Game 3 was his 70th post-season game. In those 70 games, he has 254 at-bats with 87 hits and is hitting .343 with a .444 on-base percentage, and a .630 slugging percentage, with 18 home runs and 52 RBIs.
A 10-foot, 1,100-lb. statue of Pujols was dedicated on November 2, at Westport Plaza outside his Pujols 5 restaurant. An anonymous donor commissioned sculptor Harry Weber to create the statue, which now belongs to the Pujols Family Foundation based at the Plaza.
He became a free agent (along with 165 others) for the first time in his career at 12:01am on Nov. 3, 2011, and thereby able to sign with any team for the first time since drafted by the Cardinals in 1999.
He came in fifth in the voting for the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player Award, behind winner Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, Prince Fielder, and Justin Upton.
Pujols became a free agent on November 3, 2011, only a few days after winning the World Series. He has garnered interest from several teams including the St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins, and Chicago Cubs. The Marlins have reportedly offered a 10-year contract, worth over $200 mil. with a five-year no-trade clause.

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.
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.
In 2008, Pujols agreed to help bring a MLS franchise to St. Louis by using his reputation and a large financial investment.
Pujols and his wife are devout and active Christians; one of his writings on his family's foundation's website states, "In the Pujols family, God is first. Everything else is a distant second". He writes, "My life's goal is to bring glory to Jesus. My life is not mostly dedicated to the Lord, it is 100% committed to Jesus Christ and His will. God has given me the ability to succeed in the game of baseball. But baseball is not the end; baseball is the means by which my wife, Dee Dee, and I glorify God. Baseball is simply my platform to elevate Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior." Pujols attends a Baptist church.
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."

In 2005, Albert and Deidre Pujols launched the Pujols Family Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit which is dedicated to their "commitment to faith, family and others." The organization promotes awareness of Down syndrome and works to support those who have it and their families, aids the poor in the Dominican Republic, and supports people with disabilities and/or life threatening illnesses. Among other activities, the foundation hosts events for people with Down syndrome. The foundation gave the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis the resources to open and office and hire staff. A center for adults with Down syndrome bears Pujols' name ("Albert Pujols Wellness Center for Adults with Down Syndrome") opened in 2009 in Chesterfield, Missouri; he was present at the opening on November 18.
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 to raise money to send dentists to the Dominican Republic.

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