Albert Pujols

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Albert Pujols

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Sammy Sosa

Position First Base
Team St. Louis Cardinals
Years of Experience 5 years
Age 25
Height 6-3
Weight 225 lbs.
Bats Right
Throws Right
College Maple Woods Community College
2005 Salary $11,000,000
Place of Birth Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Selection 13th round amateur draft, 1999
Drafted by St. Louis Cardinals
Major League Debut June 16, 1999

Jos Albert Pujols (born January 16, 1980 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) is a Major League Baseball player with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Born in poverty in the Dominican Republic, Pujols's family emigrated to the United States in the early 1990s, first to New York City and then later to Independence, Missouri. In the U.S., Pujols gained his love for baseball, batting over .500 in his first season of high school baseball. After high school, Pujols attended Maple Woods Community College in the Kansas City area. In his first season with the community college, Pujols showed off his talent, hitting a grand slam and turning an unassisted triple play in his first game and batting .461 for the year.

The St. Louis Cardinals became interested in Pujols, eventually drafting him in the 13th round of the 1999 draft. However, Pujols initially turned down a mere USD $10,000 bonus and opted to play in the Jayhawk League in Kansas instead. However, by the end of the summer of 1999, the Cardinals had increased their bonus offer to $60,000 and Pujols signed with the Cardinals and was assigned to the developmental leagues.

By 2000, Pujols was assigned to 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. In just seven games with the Redbirds in 2000, Pujols hit .367 with two home runs.

During spring training in 2001, the Cardinals were preparing for Pujols to join the Major League ranks, but the Cardinals' roster was already full of talented players, including Mark McGwire, Fernando Via, Edgar Rentera, Ray Lankford, Jim Edmonds and J.D. Drew. However, an injury to bench player Bobby Bonilla freed up a roster spot, and Pujols played on Opening Day against the Colorado Rockies in Denver.

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Pujols playing first base.

In the season's second series, playing against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Pujols hit a home run, three doubles and eight runs batted in, securing his spot on the team. By May, he was named National League Rookie of the Month. By June, he was named to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game by NL manager Bobby Cox, the first Cardinal rookie named to the team since 1955. Pujols continued with his phenomenal rookie season, helping the Cardinals earn a Wild Card berth in the playoffs. For the season, Pujols batted .329 with 37 home runs and 130 runs batted in and was named the National League Rookie of the Year.

In 2002, Pujols struggled early as pitchers learned to pitch to him, but Pujols continued to bat well throughout the season, hitting .314 with 34 homers and 127 RBIs. The Cardinals finished first in the NL Central during a difficult campaign that saw the death of team announcer Jack Buck and the sudden death of pitcher Darryl Kile. The Cardinals defeated the Diamondbacks in the first round of the playoffs, but lost to the San Francisco Giants in the NL Championship series.

In the 2003 season, Pujols had his best season yet, batting .359 with 43 home runs and 124 RBIs, winning the National League batting title, but the Cardinals failed to make the playoffs, faltering in the stretch to the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. Pujols also finished second in the MVP voting, but lost that award to Barry Bonds.

For 2004, Pujols was nagged by hamstring problems, but was still a powerful hitter, hitting .331 with 46 home runs and 123 RBI. In addition, Pujols was also named to grace the cover of EA Sports' video game, MVP Baseball 2004. He was also the MVP of the 2004 National League Championship Series.

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