Happy 29th Birthday, Allen Craig. Thank you for making the good-bye to #5 a whole heck of a lot easier to deal with for St. Louis.
As a birthday present to Craig and the rest of Cardinal Nation, I have decided to do a brief analysis on his numbers so that fans can truly appreciate just how valuable he has been since Albert left.
The Numbers Breakdown
5 years, $43 million ($8.6 million AAV)
2012: .307 batting average, .354 on-base percentage, 22 home runs, 92 runs batted in, 2.8 WAR
2013: .333 batting average, .378 on-base percentage, 10 home runs, 74 runs batted in, 2.1 WAR
10 years, $240 million ($24 million AAV)
2012: .285 batting average, .343 on-base percentage, 30 home runs, 105 runs batted in, 3.7 WAR
2013: .249 batting average, .324 on-base percentage, 15 home runs, 57 runs batted in, 0.4 WAR
For the 2012 season, Craig hit .400 with runners in scoring position. In 90 at-bats with runners in scoring position this season, he has somehow done even better, collecting 44 hits for an MLB-best .489 batting average.
In 2012, Albert hit .281 with runners in scoring position. In 87 at-bats with runners in scoring position this season, Albert has 26 hits–giving him a decent .299 average, but an average that is nearly .200 below Craig’s.
Sure, Pujols has had a Hall-of-Fame career, but for nearly $16 million less per season, I will take Craig in a heartbeat. As many of you know, I was very upset when I found out that Pujols had signed with the Angels, but that is not the case now. At 29, Craig’s body is not breaking down like Albert’s, and because of this, he is able to play the field on a regular basis.
In 91 games played this season for the Angels, Albert has only been able to play 34 games at first base. He has three errors on the season. Thus, they are paying him an enormous amount of money to basically be a glorified designated hitter. That is incredible to think about.
In 90 games played this season, Craig has started 60 games at first base, 14 games in left field, and 14 games in right field. All three of those positions require vastly different skill sets, yet he is committed just one error. His fielding has vastly improved from last season and will only continue to develop the more comfortable he gets at the position. Either way, regardless of fielding statistics, Craig is at least out there playing while Albert is playing the field just 37% of the time.
At this point in their careers, Craig hits for a higher average than Albert, gets on base more than Albert, and is more productive with runners in scoring position than Albert. Albert may still hit more home runs than Craig, but does that really matter if the AC Hammer is knocking in more runs than him?
Craig is a complete player, able to play three positions effectively while Albert has become more of a designated hitter than a position player due to his body breaking down. Oh, and last time I checked, Craig was in the All-Star Game this season. Pujols has not made the AL All-Star team either season with the Angels.
Help me get the AC Hammer name trending!
Until next time…
P.S. I know that by not committing salary to Pujols, the Cardinals were able to sign players like Furcal and Beltran, as well as sign long-term deals with Waino and Yadi, but my comparison was meant to be for Craig and Pujols only.
7/25 UPDATE on 2013 Statistics:
Craig: .337 batting average, .382 on-base percentage, 10 home runs, 79 runs batted in, 2.2 WAR
Pujols: .254 batting average, .326 on-base percentage, 17 home runs, 60 runs batted in, 0.6 WAR, still has only played 34 games in the field (same amount as when this article was written one week ago)
- The Year of Stan Musial: St. Louis Cardinals Get 6 All-Stars (stlcupofjoe.com)
- Bernie Bytes: All-Stars reaffirm the ‘Cardinal Way’ (stltoday.com)
- Bernie: Cards better off without Pujols (stltoday.com)