Much to the chagrin of a former Chicago Cub turned New York Yankee who insisted on standing both on top of the plate and inside the strike zone, the recent history of 1B within the National League Central has been dominated by a trio of players who have each earned NL Most Valuable Player Awards in their careers for their excellence, respectively.
It has been the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals who have benefitted from that trio’s performance, even if one of those clubs has opted to squander any and all opportunity to build around their future Hall of Famer. The Cardinals, meanwhile, won a pair of World Series titles thanks to one of their star’s exploits, while the guy they turned to for replacing him as a franchise icon took home the league’s most recent MVP Award just months ago.
We’re talking here, of course, about Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, and Paul Goldschmidt, players whose styles differ rather significantly but whose production has farm more often than not been as elite as the baseball world has seen. Their commonalities are simple enough - 21st century NL Central 1B sluggers who’ve won MVPs - but the optics of one thing in particular stood out to me when, as I so often do, I found myself spending an evening scrolling through the annals of Baseball Reference dot com.
Three players, and three players only in the modern era of baseball history have logged at least 3000 career PA and posted an adjusted OPS+ of 145: Paul Goldschmidt, Albert Pujols, and Joey Votto.
That’s both incredible and incredible fitting to this narrative I’ve created, isn’t it?
For reference, Hall of Famers Sam Crawford and Hack Wilson join Hall of Incredibly Gooders Albert Belle and Lance Berkman behind them with career marks of 144, while the group tied at 147 ahead of them is literally nothing but Hall of Famers - Harry Heilmann, Edgar Martinez, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, Jim Thome, and Sam Thompson.
That’s Sam Thompson, by the way. Dapper gent originally of Detroit Wolverine fame. Came out of retirement in 1906 at age 46 after an 8-year layoff to sock 7 hits (one a triple!) for the newfangled Detroit Tigers after Ty Cobb got injured and still holds the MLB record for oldest player to sock a triple.
This isn’t about Sam Thompson, though, it’s about his mustache. Wait. This is about Paul Goldschmidt, Albert Pujols, and Joey Votto, and how Joey Votto should 100% sport a Sam Thompson mustache during this, what will likely be his final season as a member of the Cincinnati Reds.
145 adjusted OPS+. Non-sequiturs.