Tony LaRussa helped unlock Albert Pujols’ legendary potential with one simple question.
In a recent episode of Audacy’s Unwritten: Behind Baseball’s Secret Rules, Albert Pujols discussed how Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa fulfilled his potential in his first season with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2001.
“He asked me, ‘So Albert, I’m going to tell you something. Which do you prefer: 30 home runs or hit .300?’ And I was like ’30 home runs, Tony. Everyone wants to hit the ball out of the ballpark.’ Bzzz. rookie mistake. “I want you to focus on hitting .300. Because if you focus on hitting .300, I bet you will get your 30 home runs. I bet you get your 100 RBI.” And you did.”
Indeed it was.
In the podcast, Pujols added this about LaRussa:
“He never gave me a chance to think about the question he asked me. But if you look at it, if you really focus on hitting .300, how many chances do you have with men in scoring position and a chance to make runs and do some damage? A lot of. You will get more hits. You will hit .300.”
From 2001 to 2010, Pujols batted over .300 for the Cardinals. He hit 30 or more home runs from 2001-2012 and added another 40 home runs in 2015 while with the Cardinals and Los Angeles Angels.
Albert Pujols credits Tony LaRussa with unlocking his potential
It’s an incredible feat to achieve that in a season or two, but consistently hitting those stats for over a decade is something legends are made for. Pujols is still putting up impressive numbers in his final season with the club where he started it all, the Cardinals. He hits .260/.336/.504 with an OPS of .840 with 16 homers, which puts him five away from a staggering 700 homers.
His relationship with LaRussa is also still going strong. “Our relationship is like a father and son 23 years later,” Pujols said. “And our relationship back in 2001, I felt like it hadn’t changed. If anything, it gets stronger and stronger every year.”
Hear more from the Audacy podcast with Pujols here.
https://fansided.com/2022/09/09/cardinals-albert-pujols-tony-la-russa-potential/ Cardinal legend Albert Pujols reveals how Tony La Russa unleashed his Hall of Fame potential