No matter the way the relationship ended, Albert Pujols’ No. 5 seems destined to be retired by the Cardinals someday after his career is over. Pujols, though, told USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale he wouldn’t mind if they choose to give it away.
“It’s just a number, so if someone else wants to wear it, that won’t hurt my feelings,” Pujols says. “Would I be shocked if St. Louis gave that number to somebody? No. They can do whatever they want. I don’t play there anymore. I’m being honest; that won’t bother me at all.”
Pujols ranks second in Cardinals franchise history in homers (445), doubles (455) and RBI (1,329), trailing only Stan Musial in each category. He also played a big role in two World Series victories. Given that the franchise hasn’t been especially shy about retiring numbers (Bruce Sutter and Ken Boyer are among their retirees), it would be pretty shocking if anyone ever again wears No. 5, unless maybe Pujols goes back and does it himself at the very end of his career.
If you are old enough and lame enough as I am, you may have lurked around on sabermetic message boards in the 1990s. If you did, you may have heard of Sherri Nichols, who back in the day, was a significant contributor to the advancement of statistical analysis, particularly defensive analysis.
While it’s probably better that not everyone is as old and nerdy as me, the downside of it is that most people haven’t heard of Nichols and know nothing about her contributions. That changes today with Ben Lindbergh’s excellent analysis of Nichols and her work over at The Ringer, which I recommend that you all read.
The short version: Nichols is the one who planted the seed about on-base percentage being valuable in the mind of Baseball Prospectus Founder Gary Huckabay, back in the late 80s. She’s also the one most responsible for the rise of zone-based defensive metrics in the 1990s, such as Defensive Average, which she created and which served as the basis for other such metrics going forward. She also played a critical role in the development of RetroSheet, which collected almost all extant box score and play-by-play information going back to the turn of the 20th century, thereby making so much of the information available at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs possible. A key contribution there: making the information free and available to everyone, rather than closing the underlying data off as proprietary and either charging for access or keeping it in-house like some recent data collectors have chosen to do. Ahem.
A larger takeaway than all of Nichols’ contributions is just how loathe the baseball community was to listen to a woman back then. I mean, yeah, they’re still loathe to listen to women now, as indicated by the small number of women who hold jobs in baseball operations departments, but back then it was even worse, as evidenced by Lindbergh’s stories and Nichols’ anecdotes.
A great read and a great history lesson.