When Albert Pujols debuted in Major League Baseball, there was an active player named Jesse Orosco, who was born on April 21, 1957. When he retires at the end of this season, the Majors will include Baltimore Orioles infielder Gunnar Henderson, who was born on June 29, 2001, a day by which Albert Pujols had already hit 21 career home runs.

By my count, Albert Pujols has been teammates with 583 different players on the St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and/or the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is probably not exactly correct–there is surely a case of a player who was on the roster but never played (who didn’t count by my math)–but it’s pretty close. Very few of these players (I would argue one) is in the same general vicinity of player as Albert Pujols, but there are some really good ones, many of whom you probably don’t even remember being teammates with Albert Pujols.

I wanted to determine “Who were the best Albert Pujols teammates?”, and ultimately there are two primary ways to evaluate: Which teammates had the best career, with or without Albert Pujols on their team, and which teammates had the best careers alongside Albert Pujols? So I averaged their marks both with Pujols and in total in their careers and made a list. If you don’t like my rankings, yell at FanGraphs (certainly don’t yell at the guy who came up with the arbitrary weights associated with this list).

20. Nolan Arenado

fWAR with Albert Pujols: 6.9

Total fWAR: 45.3

Nolan Arenado having an MVP-caliber one season with Albert Pujols on the 2022 St. Louis Cardinals is certainly helpful here. I’ve heard it claimed that Nolan Arenado is already a Hall of Famer, and while I don’t think that’s the case, he’s also only 31 years old and having the literal best season of his career, so he may not be all that far away.

19. Mookie Betts

fWAR with Albert Pujols: 2.7

Total fWAR: 49.9

Mookie Betts has the decided disadvantage of only playing part of one season with Pujols–even Nolan Arenado has finished most of a season with him. But the two-way superstar Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder, like Arenado, probably isn’t a Hall of Famer yet but is on the right track, even if he isn’t going to improve upon his fWAR with Pujols number.

18. J.D. Drew

fWAR with Albert Pujols: 10.1

Total fWAR: 46.0

The long-retired J.D. Drew seems like a cautionary tale for those who claim Arenado or Betts as already having done for Cooperstown, as Drew was as productive for his career (though by the JAWS formula, which more heavily weighs peak, he’s decently behind the active players). Albert Pujols was teammates with J.D. Drew for three full seasons, from 2001 through 2003, before he was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Ray King, Jason Marquis, and some other guy who I might get around to mentioning later.

17. Chuck Finley

fWAR with Albert Pujols: 1.8

Total fWAR: 56.4

Although mostly associated with the California Angels (name maintained to preserve how he’s actually remembered), Finley closed out his career with a productive, two-month stint on the Cardinals in 2002. I have admittedly underrated Finley’s Cardinals tenure, as I mostly associate it as being the rental trade where the Cardinals lost out on Coco Crisp, whose name is a strong competitor with Chuck Finley’s Spoonerism for the finest the St. Louis Cardinals organization has ever produced.

16. Bobby Abreu

fWAR with Albert Pujols: -0.1

Total fWAR: 59.8

Did you forget that longtime Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu, who lingers on Hall of Fame ballots to this day, was teammates with Albert Pujols for twenty-seven plate appearances with the Angels in 2012? That’s okay–he’s never heard of you either.

15. Lance Berkman

fWAR with Albert Pujols: 4.7

Total fWAR: 55.9

Outside of St. Louis, Lance Berkman being teammates with Albert Pujols might be as forgotten as Abreu, but St. Louisans will always remember the Lance Berkman era, when the aging corner outfielder/first baseman turned back the clock and had the greatest offensive season of his storied career with the 2011 Cardinals. You may remember Lance Berkman as the guy whom Albert Pujols met at home plate to celebrate after David Freese’s game-tying triple in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series.

14. Paul Goldschmidt

fWAR with Albert Pujols: 7.1

Total fWAR: 54.1

Paul Goldschmidt is just kind of sneaking into the Hall of Fame picture, and based on how strong his 2022 season has been as teammates with Pujols, he’s looking more and more likely as time goes on. Goldschmidt is in many ways Albert’s spiritual heir apparent as the kind of boring, serious first baseman who just absolutely pulverizes baseballs.

13. Matt Holliday

fWAR with Albert Pujols: 13.1

Total fWAR: 49.4

Matt Holliday was much-hyped as the guy who would provide lineup protection to Albert Pujols once he arrived in St. Louis, and for two-and-a-half years he largely fit the billing. That Holliday is exactly one day older than Albert Pujols does not get nearly enough attention for the sheer unlikelihood of it.

12. Chris Carpenter

fWAR with Albert Pujols: 26.2

Total fWAR: 36.8

Here we get to a guy whose time spent with Albert Pujols was undisputedly the salad days of his career, no disrespect to Carpenter’s Toronto Blue Jays days or his “I got a rib removed to do this” 2012 season in St. Louis. Seems like these two guys probably had some good times together, I dunno.

11. Mark McGwire

fWAR with Albert Pujols: 0.6

Total fWAR: 66.3

We didn’t realize it at the time, but Albert Pujols was the heir apparent to Mark McGwire. They didn’t play a ton together, though arguably their finest moments together came in 2011, when Mark McGwire served as hitting coach for the Cardinals and Albert Pujols served as Mark McGwire for the Cardinals.

10. Zack Greinke

fWAR with Albert Pujols: 1.4

Total fWAR: 70.7

Man, did y’all know Zack Greinke has over 70 career fWAR? He’s, like, definitely going to the Hall of Fame, huh? Anyway, he and Pujols weren’t teammates long–Greinke joined the Angels near the 2012 trade deadline before heading north to the Dodgers that off-season–but I’d like to think they bonded over their mutual Kansas City roots and Albert Pujols just kept bringing up the 2011 NLCS.

9. Larry Walker

fWAR with Albert Pujols: 3.4

Total fWAR: 68.7

In a simply hilarious act of overkill, the Cardinals acquired Larry Walker to supplement a lineup that already had three MVP candidates in it and he continued to be a slightly lesser but still very good version of Larry Walker for the remainder of 2004 and into 2005 before retiring. My Larry Walker anecdote is that his was the first baseball player whose shirt I bought (a shirsey, in 2005) and Albert Pujols is the last player whose shirt I bought (a jersey in 2019, and no I’m not counting the Daniel Vogelbach Brewers shirsey I bought as a gift).

8. Max Scherzer

fWAR with Albert Pujols: 2.6

Total fWAR: 71.0

Fellow St. Louis icon Max Scherzer, like Pujols, was acquired (later) in the 2021 Dodgers season, and he was his typical, incredible self. Max Scherzer, 38, graduated high school after Albert Pujols had been an MVP finalist twice, in case you wanted to complicate your concept of how old Albert Pujols is.

7. Adam Wainwright

fWAR with Albert Pujols: 23.1

Total fWAR: 53.1

The total fWAR Wainwright got as teammates with Pujols might be a little surprising, but keep in mind that this is only the fifth season in which Adam Wainwright has been a starter and Albert Pujols has been his teammate. But still–that’s not nothing, and Wainwright got a pair of Cy Young finalist nods in that mix, too.

6. Clayton Kershaw

fWAR with Albert Pujols: 1.6

Total fWAR: 74.7

Every time a new 2021 Dodger enters this list, I am confounded that they didn’t win multiple World Series rings last year.

5. Yadier Molina

fWAR with Albert Pujols: 23.3

Total fWAR: 55.7

I personally love that the guy who ranks at Albert Pujols’s uniform number is Yadier Molina. This is clearly the way things should be. Anyway, the guy who gets in at Molina’s uniform number a bit less iconic of a St. Louis Cardinal.

4. John Smoltz

fWAR with Albert Pujols: 1.0

Total fWAR: 82.8

To date, only two Hall of Famers have been teammates with Albert Pujols–the aforementioned Larry Walker and John Smoltz, who joined the Cardinals in late 2009 to finish up his career. By straight up career fWAR, he tops the list of Albert’s teammates.

3. Scott Rolen

fWAR with Albert Pujols: 27.1

Total fWAR: 69.9

The hopeful next Albert Pujols teammate to make the Hall of Fame, Scott Rolen was the latest arriver of the so-called MV3 and therefore he isn’t the one most associated with Pujols, but the corner infield duo is the strongest the Cardinals have ever had, and the one the Cardinals have currently ain’t bad themselves.

2. Jim Edmonds

fWAR with Albert Pujols: 35.9

Total fWAR: 64.5

Scott Rolen may have had the slightly better career, but Jim Edmonds had the more Albert Pujols-adjacent career. Jim Edmonds probably thought after the 2000 season that he would have a nice run as the best player on the Cardinals, only to be supplanted the very next season, but the whole part where they won a World Series together was probably pretty nice.

1.Mike Trout

fWAR with Albert Pujols: 75.3

Total fWAR: 81.2

When the Angels signed Albert Pujols in late 2011, they probably hoped that they would have the best player in baseball for a decade and, well, they did! Mike Trout had a Hall of Fame career just within his time as a teammate of Pujols, from 2012 into the first part of 2021, and his 5.9 fWAR accumulated during his underwhelming 2011 debut and during 2021 and 2022 seasons during which he was constantly hurt is pretty incredible. Mike Trout is really good at baseball and is the rare player on this list, full of great players, who actually belongs in the same breath as Albert Pujols.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s