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Miguel Cabrera vs. Albert Pujols: Who’s the Greatest?

Albert and Miggy are two of baseball’s all-time greats, but whose accomplishments are superior? Who’s earned the most in total salary? Time to get to the bottom of this.

Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols are two of MLB‘s biggest stars of the 21st century, and to see both make headlines in 2022 scratches a certain nostalgic itch that countless baseball fans probably forgot they had.

Pujols returning home to St. Louis and going 3-4 with a home run in his second game was a true feel-good moment the sport needed as it emerged an infuriating and interminable lockout. Cabrera following that with his 3,000th career hit over the weekend permitted us witness a moment in history we might not see again for a long time.

With Pujols in his age 42 season and Cabrera in his age 39 season, both are closer to their Cooperstown inductions than their playing primes. Still, they’ve both found ways to produce in this young season — Cabrera is hitting above .300 so far, while Pujols’ .883 OPS is over 150 points above the current league average.

But how do they compare when you put their whole careers side-by-side — stats, rings, earnings, and all?

Glad you asked.

Pujols vs. Cabrera: Career Earnings

Pujols entered the league in 2001, with Cabrera joining him two years later. Pujols’s first big contract came in 2004 when he inked a $100M deal with the Cardinals, while Cabrera’s came in 2008 for over $150M. Here’s what that means for their career earnings (all info via Spotrac).

Miguel Cabrera

Base salary: $389,973,111
Incentives: $1,150,000
TOTAL EARNINGS: $393,023,111 (No. 2 all-time)

Current Contract: 8 years, $248,000,000
Free agency: 2023-24 (mutual contract options for 2024 and ’25)

Albert Pujols

Base salary: $336,940,741
Incentives: $4,650,000
TOTAL EARNINGS: $341,710,741 (No. 3 all-time)

Current Contract: 1 year, $2,500,000
Free agency: 2022-23

Box Score Stats

Here’s how Cabrera and Pujols compare using traditional batting statistics. Cabrera has the higher batting average, while Pujols has hit more home runs. It all evens out, however, as both sport a .919 career OPS.

Miguel Cabrera

Batting Average: .310
Home Runs: 502
RBI: 1,809
OBP: .387
Hits: 3,002
OPS: .919

Albert Pujols

Batting Average: .297
Home Runs: 681
RBI: 2,154
OBP: .375
Hits: 3,308
OPS: .919

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Advanced Metrics

The raw numbers show two surefire first-ballot Hall of Famers. Here’s how much value they’ve added over the years. Pujols has the edge in wins above replacement (WAR) and the related runs above average (wRAA) because he spent much of his career as a top-tier defensive first baseman. Additionally, his 668 career homers give him a notable edge in isolated extra-base hit average (ISO) — but the comparison is much more even when you look at ballpark-adjusted runs created (wRC+) and on-base average (wOBA).

Miguel Cabrera

fWAR: 69.9
wRC+: 143
wRAA: 604
wOBA: .388
ISO: .221

Albert Pujols

fWAR: 87.1
wRC+: 141
wRAA: 667.3
wOBA: .385
ISO: .247

Career Accolades

How did those numbers translate to hardware? Pretty well, actually. They both have rings. They’re both multi-time MVPs. They’ve both won batting titles. It’s up to you to pick which differentiators matter more: Is it Miggy’s Triple Crown? Or Albert’s second title and back-to-back MVPs?

Folks, there’s no wrong answer here.

Miguel Cabrera

World Series: 1 (2003, Florida Marlins)
MVP: 2 (AL 2012, AL ’13)
All-Star Games: 11
Silver Sluggers: 7
Gold Gloves: 0
Batting Titles: 4
Other: 2012 AL Triple Crown, 3,000-hit club, 500 home run club

Albert Pujols

World Series: 2 (2006, ’11 St. Louis Cardinals)
MVP: 3 (NL 2005, NL ’08, NL ’09)
All-Star Games: 10
Silver Sluggers: 6
Gold Gloves: 2
Batting Titles: 1
Other: 2001 NL Rookie of the Year, 3,000-hit club, 600 home run club, 2,000 RBI club

Who ultimately wins this battle? All told, you’re looking at two of the greatest ever to pick up the lumber, as well as the two players right behind Alex Rodriguez on the list of baseball’s highest earners of all time.

Pick your poison, baseball fans.

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