Before joining the Angels in 2012, Albert Pujols was already a pretty safe bet for the Hall of Fame. He had just under 450 home runs and managed to hit .328 in 11 seasons with the Cardinals. He established himself as one of baseball's greatest hitters before signing a massive 10-year contract that will have him locked up in a contract with the Angels until he's 41 years old.
Unfortunately, Pujols has not lived up to the hype in LA as much as he'd like to. He's been on the decline for the last few seasons, and his .241 batting average last year along with a .244 average in 2015 is by far the worst performances of his career. He's made just 1 All-Star game in 6 seasons after making it 9 times with the Cardinals.
Still, Pujols is a future Hall of Famer and one of the best players of all-time. I've accumulated 81 total cards of the 3-time NL MVP. His undeniable talent is the reason why I've been able to collect so many cards of him.
Here they are, my top 5 cards of Albert Pujols.
#5 2014 Topps Archives
After finding my 5 favorite cards of Pujols, I was surprised to learn that I chose more cards of Pujols on the Angels (3) than the Cardinals (2). He obviously has way more cards showing him as a Cardinal, but because of cards like the one shown above, I guess I was drawn to the Pujols cards on the Angels. The photo on the card appears to be from Spring Training, but the rocky background is not too indifferent from the rocks at the Angels ballpark. The choice of pink and navy blue for the team name is an awesome color combination that really works for the card. It feels like I should've chosen a card of him on the Cardinals over the Angels, but with a card like this, I felt I had no choice.
#4 2016 Panini Donruss Test Proof Cyan
I remember feeling ecstatic when I pulled this low-numbered Albert Pujols Test Proof card from 2016 Donruss, a card I believe to be similar to Topps' printing plates. The style of the card helps me to not be quite as aware of the card being unlicensed. I don't like how to Test Proof stamp covers Pujols' stats, but the front of the card easily makes up for it. I like the Test Proof idea because it allows collectors to acquire cards that look like printing plates in a much easier way. I'm not sure if they brought them back in 2017 and will bring them back this year. All I know is this is a very well-executed card by Panini.
#3 2013 Topps Chrome 1972 Topps
Throwback jersey? Check. 1972 Topps design? Check. I don't think I need to say much else about this fantastic card. I've collected a couple of these cards, but the Pujols is by far my favorite. I'm glad that Topps Chrome did this insert set back in 2013 for my all-time favorite set, 1972 Topps. I was a bit nervous to see how well Topps would execute this set when done in the Chrome set, but I have to say that they did an excellent job with the entire insert set and the Pujols card in particular. There's not a single thing out of place, and the throwback jersey inclusion is just the icing on the cake for this eye-catching card.
#2 2010 Topps National Chicle
It's no coincidence that the top 2 cards on my list both show Pujols on the Cardinals. After all, St. Louis is where he made a name for himself and won not 1, but 2 World Series rings. 2010 Topps National Chicle was another art set, similar to Gallery and Turkey Red. This set lasted 1 year and never came back after that, which is a bit disappointing. Pujols received the #1 card in the 2010 set after winning back to back NL MVP awards in 2008 and 2009. The key details of this card are included in the background, that being the stands at the stadium and the beautifully-painted buildings. It takes a lot for a card in this set to stand out, and this card does that. So including this card at #2 is a no-brainer.
#1 2004 Bowman Heritage
The 1955 Bowman set is possibly the greatest baseball card set to ever exist. It even beats out 1972 on my list if I would rank all my favorite sets of all-time. When the set was recreated in 2004 Bowman Heritage, my dad collected some of the set, and one of the cards he pulled was of Albert Pujols. It's rare that a card shows Pujols playing in the infield instead of batting at the plate, and this unique camera angle combined with the choice of the image makes for an overall exceptional card of Albert Pujols, and one that was an easy choice for the #1 spot.