Pujols, World Series ratings, and the popularity of Baseball

Albert Pujols has been one of baseball's greatest sluggers.

Is there any doubt that Albert Pujols is the MVP of the baseball world?

Now that the Cardinals have won the 2011 World Series and seeing as Mr. Pujols smashed three homers in Game Three, there should be no question that the slugger from St. Louis is the best there is.

How does he match up against the Tigers best offensive player?

Here are Miguel Cabrera’s 2011 numbers: 30 homers, 105 RBI, 108 runs, and an American League leading .344 batting average. He’s now led the AL in homers, RBI, and batting as a Tiger.

As for Pujols, his 2011 stats were 37 homers, 99 RBI, 61 walks, and a .299 average.

On paper it appears that Cabrera had the better year. I don’t think either guy had a better year than the other but there is one thing to remember, our Tigers beat the hell out of four of the worst teams in baseball history: the 2011 White Sox, Twins, Royals, and Indians. In fact, Justin Verlander beat those teams 14 times out of his 24 wins.

My picks for the Most Valuable Player are Pujols in the National League. It remains to be seen who will win in the AL.

World Series Ratings and popularity of the game
On the surface, it looked like the 2011 World Series TV ratings were a disaster.

As thrilling as a seven-game Series it was, nobody was watching the World Series, other than family and friends.
Purely by the ratings, the 2011 Series was the least-watched in television history.

When you don’t have the Yankees, Boston, Philadelphia or other East Coast monster teams, the ratings will be only good in the cities in the World Series. The St. Louis and Dallas/Ft. Worth markets just aren’t big enough to make for good TV ratings.

So despite Pujols hitting like a mad man, very few people witnessed his monster feats, or the unlikely heroics of David Freese and Allen Craig. Likewise, people missed out on seeing a professional like veteran Lance Berkman do his thing in the Fall Classic. (Berkman now has 11 RBI to go along with a smoking-hot .410 average and an OBP above .500 in 11 World Series contests). It’s really a shame, because Pujols may well be the best hitter that the game has ever seen. He sure has my vote.

The great news is that the players and real fans don’t play or watch for the ratings, they cheer and play to win the World Series trophy.

But on the other hand these ratings are terribly misleading.

What they completely ignore is context. The 1971 World Series was the eighth-highest rated TV show that year. You know what the eighth-rated show was in 2010?

The World Series of 2010. Yep, that ratings clunker between the Giants and Rangers.

By the way, did you realize that FOX sold out all of the ads for the World Series? So, as long as they do that, do you think they care what the ratings are?

Baseball is still a tremendously popular sport. The 2011 season’s total attendance was 73,425,568. That’s the best since 2007, when the economy started to tank. Baseball remains the greatest game in the world, and until someone can match these numbers, it shall be the KING of all Sports and no one is going to come close to these kinds of numbers soon!

One last stat: Major League Baseball grossed over $7 billion last year. Not bad for a sport that gets “poor ratings” for the World Series, huh?