Saturday, July 9, 2011

Albert Pujols

José Alberto Pujols Alcántara (born January 16, 1980), better known as Albert Pujols (Spanish pronunciation:), is a Dominican professional baseball player with the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball. Currently a first baseman, Pujols is considered one of the top players in Major League Baseball and the most feared hitter in baseball, according to a poll of all 30 MLB managers in 2008. He won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2001 and has since been selected as an All-Star nine times, has won the National League Most Valuable Player Award three times, has twice won the National League Hank Aaron Award, and has a World Series ring from the Cardinals 2006 title.
At the end of the 2010 season, he led all active players in batting average (.331), slugging percentage (.624),and on-base percentage (.426), and ranks among the top 50 leading home run hitters in Major League Baseball history. He was selected by as the greatest player of the decade from 2000–2009. He stands 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m), weighs 230 pounds (100 kg), 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. 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.
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 US $10,000 bonus and opted to play in the Jayhawk League in Kansas 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 for Pujols to be sent 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 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 RBI, 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 RBI set an NL rookie record.

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