Pujols living up to lofty accolades

Tony La Russa's managed in the bigs for nearly 25 years. So how can a 23-year-old be the best player he's ever had?

Originally Published: June 17, 2003
By Alan Schwarz | Special to ESPN.com

The numbers thump on our doorsteps every morning like the newspapers that contain them, bundles of hits, ribbies and homers that land with the heaviness of history. With every 5-2-2-3 statline, Albert Pujols only adds to the growing weightiness of his amazing early career, a young star every day gaining mass and gravity.

From a distance, the numbers twinkle around him like constellations: A .380 batting average (tops in the majors), .772 slugging percentage (ditto), 1.168 OPS (ditto) ...

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