Arguably the best player of this era that hasn’t used performance-enhancing drugs, Pujols is this generation’s best threat to win the Triple Crown. Pujols, 30, led the National League with 47 home runs in 2009. He finished third in the league in both batting average (.327) and RBI (135).
There is no hitter in the major leagues pitchers fear more than Pujols right now. With Matt Holliday behind him in the lineup, teams will be forced to pitch to Pujols.
When the third batter in your lineup has the highest on-base percentage on the team, you know he’s an imposing force.
The Cardinals also play in a division that isn’t exactly stocked with aces on the mound. The Reds, Brewers, Pirates and Cubs and Astros all have less than formidable rotations. The NL Central is a hitter’s paradise.
Pujols’ biggest challengers in the home run category will be Prince Fielder, who hit 46 in 2009, the Phillies’ Ryan Howard (45) and the Padres’ Adrian Gonzalez (40).
The toughest category for Pujols to win will be RBI. If he bats ahead of Holliday, Pujols will have fewer runners on base to drive home. Howard and Fielder tied for the RBI title last year, and will be at the top again this year.
The batting average title will come down to Pujols and Hanley Ramirez from the Florida Marlins. Those two are the clear-cut favorites for that title; anyone who challenges them will be a mild surprise.
Ramirez won the title in 2009 when he hit .342.
The NL has fewer great hitters than the American League, but Pujols is the best of the bunch. There is no Joe Mauer or Ichiro to steal the hitting title away.
When it comes down to the end of the season, chances are Pujols won’t pull off the rare feat, but watching him chase history will be fun.