Sports Illustrated has a great profile of Albert Pujols in this week’s issue. It includes a line that dramatizes just how much the game has changed since the days of Ted Williams:
Williams, for example, played until he was 42. He retired having played 544 night games, and faced 268 pitchers on seven teams in 11 ballparks, none west of Kansas City. Pujols has already played 1,110 night games and faced 978 pitchers on 29 teams in 34 ballparks across four time zones.
Night games are more taxing than day games for a variety of reasons. What really stuck out to me, though, was the number of pitchers Pujols has faced in 11 years compared to the number Williams faced in 19. The better a hitter knows a pitcher, the better he’ll hit against him. How can any player size up an average of 90 new pitchers each year? This is one big reason we’re unlikely to see many long-standing single-season hitting records broken. The momentum has shifted to the pitchers.