Cubs: What if the team had signed Albert Pujols back in 2011?

(Photo by Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images) /
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Anthony Rizzo / Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Cubs: With Pujols, we would have never seen the rise of Anthony Rizzo

And let’s not forget: one of the greatest Cubs of this generation – Anthony Rizzo – shares Pujols’ position. One of the first moves Epstein and Jed Hoyer made was to bring him in, which obviously wouldn’t have happened if Pujols were in the fold.

To call his tenure with the Angels a failure is, by most measures, perfectly fair. Of course, player contracts have exploded since 2011 but the team clearly expected more from the future Hall of Famer when they signed him.

He finished his tenure in Anaheim with a .256/.311/.447 line – which works out to a 109 OPS+. He clubbed 222 homers during this span – in other words, he put up 22 long-balls and 78 RBI annually as an Angel. That’s nowhere near $24 million of value. Not even close.

Meanwhile, Rizzo has won a World Series, earned three All-Star appearances, brought home three Gold Gloves and a Platinum Glove – and a Silver Slugger, to boot. He’s done all this while becoming the face of the franchise, this generation’s ‘Mr. Cub’ and putting up a .273/.374/.490 line – which works out to about 30 percent above league average, offensively.

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It’s safe to say the Cubs dodged a major bullet when they decided to take the long road to success, opting to focus on the future rather than what a slugging first baseman heading into his 30s had done in the past. In fact, it’s quite possible that the decision to pass on Albert Pujols played a direct role in the team ending a 108-year World Series championship drought.