ARLINGTON, TX - Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals watches the ball after hitting a solo home run in the ninth inning for his third home run of the night during Game Three of the MLB World Series against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark. The Cardinals won 16-7. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Albert Pujols is good. Will evidence of this wild claim make a difference with the contract he gets as a free agent?
Can a player get a bigger payday just from being a World Series hero? Sure, it's possible. The focus of the baseball world is on a short series, with every general manager watching. If a guy looks superhuman during that short series, maybe he'll get an extra bidder or two for his services, which could drive up the price. Completely plausible.
The price could go down for a free agent, too. Buster Olney hears that C.J. Wilson is in quite the grey area:
Just talked to agent (not Boras) about Wilson FA. Says with a really bad October could get 5 (years) /60-65m. With a good Oct: 5-6 (years) /85-100m.
That's a pretty wild swing, but okay. The numbers might be plucked from the agent's backside, but the idea makes sense. Coming into the playoffs, people might have thought of C.J. Wilson as a #2 pitcher in a good rotation. After his struggles in a few playoff games, you can understand how a previously smitten GM might be having second thoughts.
Then we get to Albert Pujols. Albert M.F. Pujols. A player who came to the majors at 21 and bludgeoned the rest of the National League. A three-time MVP who isn't a six-time MVP because the voters feel sorry for other players. One of the best players to ever grace a baseball field, and one who can heal broken bones with his mind. That Albert Pujols.
Can he get more expensive with a great playoff performance?
First, it's worth noting that he isn't having a great run through the playoffs -- he's having an historic run through the playoffs. He hit .350/.409/.500 in the NLDS (slightly pujolsian), .478/.556/.913 in the NLCS (hyperpujolsian) and .417/.500/1.000 so far in the 2011 World Series (pujolsalphadiscobetabioaquadooloop). He has been a caricature of what we normally think Albert Pujols is.
And people think this will increase the contract he gets this offseason:
Maybe they're right. But if I'm a team owner, the first question I ask prospective general managers is based on this scenario. The ones who say they'd Pujols a penny more based on his World Series heroics would get a firm handshake and lovely parting gifts.
What's the story? That Pujols is good? Yep. Really good? Oh, yeah. One of the best hitters who ever lived? Without a doubt.
What do the 60+ at-bats in the 2011 playoffs add to that story? That he's really, really good? That he's, no, seriously, like, totally one of the best hitters who ever lived? He's Albert Pujols. He was amazing before the World Series, and if he failed to get a hit in the World Series -- he was 0-for-6 in the 2011 World Series before Saturday night, remember -- and he was going to be amazing after the World Series.
He'll get a huge contract after the season, and he'll deserve it. But he doesn't deserve more for going nuts in Game 3 any more than he deserves less for hitting .200 in his last World Series. He's Albert Pujols. He would probably do this again, given enough chances. This is sort of his thing. Pay him for being Albert Pujols. Don't include a gratuity for being hyperpujolsian when more people were looking.