Did Albert Pujols Just Have The Most Overrated Performance Of All Time?

Here's Albert Pujols staring at the ball as his third home run sails out of the park. That home run was worth +.001 WPA.

I went to bed shortly after Albert Pujols hit his third home run last night. I guess I should have expected this to happen, but when I got up this morning I was somewhat astonished by the level of hyperbole in people's reactions. Yeah, Albert Pujols had a pretty good game, but let's take a closer look at the home runs:

Inning Score Before Score After
Sixth 8-6 11-6
Seventh 12-6 14-6
Ninth 15-7 16-7

I know it's rare for a batter to hit this many home runs in a World Series game (Pujols is the fourth ever and the first since 1977), but it's also relatively rare for a World Series game to have this much garbage time. Pujols' last two home runs expanded the Cardinals' lead from six to eight and eight to nine.

Pujols' first home run was the turning point in the game according to FanGraphs, and increased the Cardinals' chances of winning by over 15%. But the second one was only good for 1.9%, and the third was 0.1%.

Let's look at it from another perspective: In postseason history there have been eight three-home run games. By WPA, Pujols' game ranks dead last among them:

Player Season Series Game WPA
Adam Kennedy 2002 ALCS 5 +.634
Reggie Jackson 1977 WS 6 +.386
Babe Ruth 1926 WS 4 +.337
Adrian Beltre 2011 ALDS 4 +.319
George Brett 1978 ALCS 3 +.301
Bob Robertson 1971 NLCS 2 +.254
Babe Ruth 1928 WS 4 +.241
Albert Pujols 2011 WS 3 +.211

By WPA, Pujols' game last night was the 28th best this postseason. He's behind teammates Allen Craig, Jon Jay and David Freese (twice), and he's also behind his own performance in Game 2 of the NLCS.

Someone's going to jump down my throat in the comments for this, so let me make sure I make this point perfectly clear. Pujols accomplished something great last night. He's in rare territory historically. No one's saying that what he did wasn't impressive. But calling last night the greatest performance in postseason history is just silly.

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