The return of Albert Pujols to superstardom has been one off the biggest stories in baseball this year. I’m particularly happy because players don’t reach “Pujols level” very often. To see him permanently come down from that level would mean there’s one less all-time great in his prime for us to watch.
But Pujols isn’t done yet. Finally healthy and with some American League experience under his belt, he’s off to a fast start. He even hit his 500th home run, becoming only the 26th player in history to reach the milestone.
Right around the same time, however, Pujols reached another exclusive milestone. He entered 2014 with a Hall Rating of 198. By reaching 1.1 WAR and 0.8 WAA (through April 26th), he has cleared the 200 Hall Rating line, becoming the 33rd player in history to do so (the site still says 198 because I don’t update 2014 stats mid-season).
Pujols is the fourth first baseman to achieve a 200 Hall Rating (but the first to appear in a game since World War II), joining Lou Gehrig, Cap Anson, and Jimmie Foxx. Four second basemen (Rogers Hornsby, Eddie Collins, Nap Lajoie, and Joe Morgan), two shortstops (Honus Wagner and Alex Rodriguez), and one third baseman (Mike Schmidt) round out the infield.
In the outfield, the 200-Hall Rating Club’s roster includes four left fielders (Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and Rickey Henderson), four center fielders (Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, and Mickey Mantle), and four right fielders (Babe Ruth, Henry Aaron, Mel Ott, and Frank Robinson).
There are ten pitchers—Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Roger Clemens, Pete Alexander, Lefty Grove, Kid Nichols, Tom Seaver, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, and Christy Mathewson—but not a single catcher to call their pitches. Johnny Bench’s 179 Hall Rating is first among receivers but only 44th all-time.
Of course, this list is dominated by older players. Just 10 of the 33 players with a 200 Hall Rating began their careers after 1956 (which is the year Robinson debuted).
- Morgan and Seaver debuted in the 1960s
- Schmidt and Henderson debuted in the 1970s
- Clemens, Maddux, Bonds, and Randy Johnson debuted in the 1980s
- Rodriguez debuted in the 1990s
- Pujols debuted in the 2000s
Ross Carey has lamented the relative scarcity of the modern all-time great. It’s a trend that will continue, as we won’t be seeing any more 200 Hall Rating players for a while. The next player (behind Rodriguez and Pujols) on the active list is Adrian Beltre at 133.
Who’s the most likely to do it next? Miguel Cabrera is 31 with a Hall Rating of 103 (entering 2014). He’s had a rough go of it so far this season, but with 28.6 WAR over the last four seasons, he is still very much a threat for a 200 Hall Rating. Beyond Cabrera, I’m looking at younger players. Clayton Kershaw entered 2014 with a Hall Rating of 69 and Felix Hernandez had a 73. They are 26 and 28, respectively. Then there’s Mike Trout, who seems like he could reach a 200 Hall Rating by age 30.
Congratulations to Prince Albert. We’re thrilled to have you back!