There have always been whispers that Albert Pujols real birth date may not actually be January 16, 1980, however there has never been any kind of proof that would turn those rumors into allegations. Some may say, “What’s the big deal? The guy is still clearly in the prime of his career and shows no signs of slowing down.” It’s obviously a big deal though, when considering potential ten year contracts. It even becomes a big deal for something as insignificant as fantasy baseball. While Pujols real age may not affect re-draft leagues, it has the potential to change one’s valuation of Pujols in a keeper league.
I think this graph makes a pointed argument for Pujols being older (I’m guessing four years older) than his birth certificate says he is. Graphed above are the wOBA’s of Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera, three of the greatest sluggers of our generation. You’ll see that the .450 wOBA mark is rarely reached, even for hitters such as these. However, you’ll also notice that Pujols put up the highest wOBA of his career (.462) in his age 23 season. Pujols next highest wOBA of .458 came in his age 28 season of 2008. If my conspiracy theory is correct, that would have put Pujols at age 32 in 2008, a year that many players will see one final power peak before settling into a decline stage. I just find it very hard to believe that the greatest hitter of our generation peaked as a 23-year-old. He hasn’t grown smarter or stronger since then? Or has he both matured as a hitter and added strength, only to have it offset by the cruel toll of the aging process on an athlete’s body.
Pujols next two seasons after 2008 have seen successive declines in wOBA. Is it just a coincidence that Pujols has been trending downward since his “age 28” season, or is he really 35 and seeing the first signs of breaking down? Honestly I think Pujols will continue to be a beast no matter how old he is, at least for the next five years. For the fans, five more years of Prince Albert filling the stat sheets is worth a huge contract for a declining player. But the team that’s on the hook for the second half of his contract is looking at 5 years $150 million for a player who may be a shell of his former self. Whichever team this is will also be severely handcuffed when trying to make the necessary moves to compete.
I do not expect Pujols to sign in Chicago if he does become a free agent, but if he did I would be absolutely thrilled, as any fan of the Cubs would be. No matter who signs Albert though, I think they’re going to end up with a 45-year-old earning $30 million in the final year his deal.