Simon: Albert Pujols, the great defender at first base

From SABR member Mark Simon at The Athletic on May 2, 2018:

I asked a scout to describe how good first baseman two-time Gold Glove (and four-time Sports Info Solutions Fielding Bible Award winner) Albert Pujols was defensively in the prime of his career. The words he chose:

 Intelligent. Instinctive. Soft hands. Surprising range. Mistake-free.

As Pujols approaches 3,000 hits, we remember the prime of his career fondly, when he was a great hitter. But he was also a great fielder, and today we’re here to pay tribute to that. Let’s convert the words from that scout into numbers.

In the five-year period from 2005 to 2009, Pujols saved 96 runs at first base per our defensive metrics. The next most by any player at first base in that span was 44 by Mark Teixeira.

Pujols’ 96 included 31 Defensive Runs Saved in 2007, the highest total for a first baseman since the stat was first recorded in 2003. The next-most by any first baseman is 21 by Teixeira in 2008.

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Originally published: May 2, 2018. Last Updated: May 2, 2018.