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Sports

The Sports Report: Albert Pujols’ place on the all-time RBI list is shrouded in mystery

Albert Pujols
Albert Pujols
(Mark J. Terrill / AP)

Hello everyone. My name is Houston Mitchell, and I’m back! Yes, your prayers and wishes have been answered and we don’t have to sit through John Cherwa referring to himself anymore. Now we can sit through me referring to myself.

In all seriousness, thanks to John for filling in while I took a couple of weeks off. I feel a little like Wally Pipp.

Angels

Yes, I’m leading with the Angels. Have I gone crazy while I was off? No. I’m actually an Angels fan. Every year, I begin the season hoping for an Dodgers-Angels World Series, with the Dodgers winning in a thrilling seven games. It hasn’t happened yet, but one day it will. Perhaps it happens in one of those alternate futures possibly created by the Avengers when they had the Infinity Gauntlet.

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But back to the Angels. One fun thing about baseball is the wealth of stats we have available to us. Because of that, we know that Albert Pujols is now third on the all-time RBI list. Wait, he’s not third, he’s fourth. No, he’s not fourth, he’s fifth. Wait, what?

You see, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Pujols is third with 1,997 RBIs because they don’t count RBIs before 1920, when it became an official stat. This despite the fact we actually have the ability to go back and figure out RBIs retroactively. Because they don’t count RBI’s before 1920, their top five are:

1. Hank Aaron, 2,297

2. Alex Rodriguez, 2,086

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3. Pujols, 1,997

4. Barry Bonds, 1,996

5. Lou Gehrig, 1,995

This seems silly to me, but if that’s how they want to do it, that’s fine.

If we go to baseball-reference.com, a site that says it is “The complete source for current and historical baseball players, teams, scores and leaders,” and a site most baseball writers and statisticians use religiously, we find that Pujols is in fifth place. Their top five:

1. Hank Aaron, 2,297

2. Babe Ruth, 2,214

3. Alex Rodriguez, 2,086

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4. Cap Anson, 2,075

5. Pujols, 1,997

That seems a little more reasonable. They count the RBIs before 1920, putting Ruth and Anson into the top five.

So, we have two reputable sources telling us two different things. What to do? Simple. Let’s let MLB decide which one is correct. After all, they ought to know, it’s their stat we are looking up. Which one, Elias or baseball-reference is correct?

Here’s the top five in RBIs according to MLB.com:

1. Hank Aaron, 2,297

2. Babe Ruth, 2,213

3. Alex Rodriguez, 2,086

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4. Pujols, 1,997

5. Barry Bonds, 1,996

Wait, so we have three sources with three different lists. MLB gives Ruth one less RBI than baseball-reference, but it counts the pre-1920 RBIs. Except, it doesn’t count Cap Anson’s RBIs from 1871-75, when he played in the National Assn. But they do count his RBIs from 1876-97, when he played for the Chicago Cubs.

So what are we to believe? We can believe that Hank Aaron is No. 1, which seems appropriate. We can agree that Pujols is in the top five somewhere, a testament to his remarkable career. And we can agree that he has more RBIs than Barry Bonds. And isn’t knocking Barry Bonds down on career lists something we can all agree is a good thing?

But do not fear sports fans. I will not rest until I get word from MLB what exactly the correct top five is.

NBA playoffs

The old adage is that the best referees or umpires are those that you never notice during the event. They should do their jobs well, do them unobtrusively and not draw attention to themselves. This adage means that most modern NBA refs are horrible.

We got an example in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets.

Houston star James Harden spent much of the game on his back, trying to draw fouls from behind the three-point line. Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said the officials told him at halftime that they missed four calls on Harden shots in the first half.

Wow, four is a lot of calls to miss.

Harden’s grievances aren’t completely unfounded. According to our own Dan Woike, Video replay showed Klay Thompson sliding under Harden’s feet on more than one jump shot. NBA rules mandate that an airborne shooter have space for a clean landing.

“We could have easily gone to the line another 20 times during the game,” D’Antoni said.

The Rockets lost to the Warriors, 104-100.

Sunday’s NBA scores

Boston 112, Milwaukee 90 (Celtics lead series, 1-0. Read game story here).

Golden State 104, Houston 100 (Warriors lead series, 1-0)

Today’s NBA schedule

All times Pacific

Philadelphia at Toronto, 5 p.m., TNT (Raptors lead series, 1-0)

Portland at Denver, 7:30 p.m., TNT (first game of series)

Dodgers

Cody Bellinger is off to one of the best starts in the history of baseball (how amazing is it? Click here at 8 a.m. Pacific to read our Dodgers newsletter, which breaks it all down for you statistically).

Our own Dylan Hernandez also looked at Bellinger and why he has suddenly become great again:

“The price of a ticket in Dodger Stadium’s right-field pavilion included more than unlimited hot dogs and nachos Sunday. The home team’s most insatiable patrons were granted the opportunity to own an artifact from the one of the greatest opening acts in baseball history, prompting a couple of dozen fans in section 310 to desperately reach skyward toward the newest souvenir launched to their side of the wall by Cody Bellinger.

“The home run was the 14th of the season for Bellinger and placed the 23-year-old first baseman in rarefied company. No player has started a season with more homers before May 1. The only with as many: Albert Pujols in 2006, Alex Rodriguez in 2007 and Christian Yelich this year.

“Explaining how Bellinger is on a 76-homer pace after an entire month requires an examination of a later at-bat in the Dodgers’ 7-6 comeback victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“The Dodgers took a 6-5 lead in the seventh inning on a run-scoring single by the Max Muncy, and Bellinger was due up with runners on the corners. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle called on left-handed reliever Francisco Liriano to pitch to the left-handed-hitting Bellinger.

“Two pitches into the at-bat, Bellinger was down in the count, 0-2.

“Just touch it,” Bellinger recalled thinking.

“He watched a couple of sliders sail by for balls. Then a fastball.

“He fouled off a low and away full-count slider.

“The next pitch was also a slider, but this one hovered over the plate. With a purposely shortened stroke, Bellinger redirected the pitch through the Pirates shifted infield. Joc Pederson scored, extending the Dodgers’ advantage to 7-5.

“Manager Dave Roberts used a golf metaphor to describe not only that particular at-bat, but Bellinger’s maturation in general.

“There’s a time to get big and try to go for the big homer or really drive the baseball,” Roberts said. “And there’s also a time to use another club. I think that right now Cody has different clubs to use. When you get a tough left-on-left guy, you know he’s in there to throw a slider, so to get big and try to hit a homer just doesn’t make a lot of sense. Cody really understands that.”

NHL playoffs

Sunday’s NHL scores

Carolina 2, N.Y Islanders 1 (Hurricanes lead series, 2-0)

Colorado 4, San Jose 3 (Series tied, 1-1)

Today’s schedule

(All times Pacific)

St. Louis at Dallas, 5 p.m., NBCSN (Series tied, 1-1)

Odds and ends

Dodgers rally to complete sweep of Pirates in Rich Hill‘s first start…. Matt Harvey turns in his best start with the Angels in win over Royals…. USC’s doctor scandal awoke a horrific memory. Now Nicole Haynes fights for the truth…. Zlatan Ibrahimovic delivers another winning goal for the Galaxy…. LAFC draws 1-1 with Seattle, which has to play 72 minutes down a man…. Bob Baffert’s Kentucky Derby dominance faces a serious test…. Minjee Lee wins the Hugel-Air Premia LA Open at Wilshire Country Club

Today’s local major sports schedule

(All times Pacific)

Dodgers at San Francisco, 6:45 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Born on this date

1922: NFL coach George Allen

1944: NFL player Jim Hart

1947: Runner Jim Ryun

1947: Golfer Johnny Miller

1951: NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt

1965: NBA player Reggie Miller

1967: NHL player Curtis Joseph

1970: Tennis player Andre Agassi

1976: NBA player God Shammgod

1978: Tennis player Bob Bryan

1978: Tennis player Mike Bryan

And finally

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email us here. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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