A decade ago, Albert Pujols won his second World Series title with the St. Louis Cardinals. That same year, Justin Verlander was the American League MVP, and Miguel Cabrera won his first of three straight batting titles — the latter two would be accompanied by MVP honors of his own.
Time can catch up with any player, of course, and in 2021, that proud trio is in a much different spot. Pujols was designated for assignment Thursday by the Los Angeles Angels, Cabrera is hitting well under .200 for Detroit, and Verlander hasn't pitched at all this year following Tommy John surgery.
Pujols, a three-time MVP with the Cardinals, is the oldest of that bunch at age 41. He hasn't been an All-Star since 2015, and now the big question is whether he can find a team willing to give him regular playing time. He's hitting .198 on the season, although five of his 17 hits have been home runs, pushing his career total to 667.
Cabrera began the season with a classic opening day highlight, homering in the snow at Comerica Park. He's struggled mightily since then. Even after a couple of two-hit games Friday and Saturday, he's batting .149 and has only two home runs.
Cabrera needs 124 hits to reach 3,000 and 11 homers to reach 500. He contract runs through at least 2023.
Verlander, Cabrera's former teammate from their Detroit days, enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, winning his second Cy Young Award in 2019 with Houston. Then he made only one appearance last year and had Tommy John surgery Oct. 1.
He's been throwing from 90 feet, but there's no clear timetable for his return. The 38-year-old right-hander is eligible for free agency after this season.
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