There was no doubt Albert Pujols was a special player from the time he broke into the bigs in 2001 as a 21-year-old first baseman with the St Louis Cardinals and was named Rookie of the Year for his spectacular 37 HR, 130 RBI, .329, 1.013 OPS season.
Three years later, on this day in béisbol Aug. 4, 2004, the Santo Domingo native was still raking at a Hall of Fame rate. He hit his 30th homer in a game against the Montreal Expos to become the first player ever with at least 30 in his first four seasons.
He’d finish the year with another video game-like line: 46 HR, 123 RBI, .331 and 1.072 OPS.
Thanks in large part to his monster rookie year, though, no player in MLB history has had a more impressive back of a baseball card at the start of a career than Pujols, who hit at least 30 homers, 100 RBI and .300 in his first 10 seasons.
Also on this day: In 2015, the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre hit for the cycle in a game against the Astros. It was the third career cycle for the 36-year-old third baseman, making him one of only four players to accomplish the feat and the first since Babe Herman did it for the Cubs in 1933.
— Robert Dominguez
Robert Dominguez is co-author of “Bronx Bummers: The Unofficial History of the New York Yankees’ Bad Boys, Blunders and Brawls” and writer of the upcoming “El Salón: The Trials and Triumphs of Baseball’s Latino Hall of Famers.”
Photo: Dave Herholz — Under Creative Commons License