Congratulations to former St. Louis Cardinal Albert Pujols for surpassing Babe Ruth on the (official) all-time runs batted in list.
Sure, Ruth’s numbers are lower due to the fact that Major League Baseball didn’t count RBIs until 1920, but even counting the Bambino’s actual numbers, Pujols could be just one swing away from passing both Lou Gehrig and Barry Bonds to become fourth on the all-time records.
All-Time RBI Leaders (as of April 21, 2019)
Equally impressive is the fact that he is one of only seven active players to have driven in over 1,000 runs, and other than Miguel Cabrera, no one else even comes close.
Pujols (39 years old) 1,993 RBI
Miguel Cabrera (36) 1,640
Robinson Cano (36) 1,242
Edwin Encarnacion (36) 1,171
Ryan Braun (35) 1,068
Nelson Cruz (38) 1,023
Matt Kemp (34) 1,010
Theoretically, Miguel Cabrera could catch Pujols, but even that appears unlikely. Looking at their last three full seasons (119, 101, 64 RBI for Pujols and 108, 60, 22 for Cabrera), Pujols is clearly pulling away from Cabrera despite being three years older. From 2016-2018 Pujols drove in 284 runs in 1,651 at-bats while Cabrera knocked 190 RBI in just 1,198 at-bats. That works out to one run every 5.8 at-bats for Pujols and one every 6.3 for Cabrera. Plus, to drive in runs you need your team to get on base; you could make the case that Pujols put up his higher numbers despite the Angels being a weaker offensive team than the Tigers.
What about younger players? Pujols’ teammate Mike Trout has consistently put together strong seasons since being named rookie of the year in 2012. In fact he has finished first or second in American League MVP voting every year except for an injury-shortened 2017 season, when he finished a respectable fourth. But if you average out Trout’s career numbers to a 162-game season, Trout hits 99 RBIs in 587 AB. Pujols’ career 162-game average is 119 RBIs per 613 AB, which means he has hit one RBI every 5.1 at-bats in his career. Trout has a higher ratio with one RBI per 5.9 AB, but he gets fewer at-bats per season than Pujols. Trout is playing in his ninth season and has hit 100 or more RBIs just twice. The fewest runs Pujols drove in during the first nine years of his career was 103. Putting the two careers side-by-side, Pujols would be about 300 RBI ahead of Trout.
His best seasons were undoubtedly in St. Louis, but Albert Pujols has put up strong and consistent numbers his entire career. That means we will have to wait a long time before we see someone challenge Prince Albert in the record books.