Before Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, and Clayton Kershaw there was Albert Pujols. Following the retirement of Barry Bonds and the decline of Alex Rodriguez, Pujols became the unquestioned best player in baseball. He held this title from roughly 2008-2010. So basically before Trout and Harper entered the league for good in 2012.
During this time frame Pujols finished first, first, and second in the NL MVP voting. In this three year span he led the league in homers twice, slugging twice, runs twice, OBP once, RBI once, and intentional walks three times. His excellence dates all the way back to his 2001 rookie season. From 2001-2010 he never hit lower than .312.
In his final year with the Cardinals in 2011 Pujols finally showed some slight decline. His batting average fell from .312 to .299 and OBP from .414 to .366. However he still hit 37 home runs and went on to have a three-homer game in the World Series, which the Cardinals won.
The 11 year track record of success netted Pujols a 10 year, $240 million contract from the Angels. Since then his OBP has continued to decline every year. Despite the drops in batting average and OBP he was able to hit 40 home runs in 2015 and become an all star for the first time since 2010.
The Angels knew the Pujols contract would look bad on the back end but what is concerning is how quickly that time is coming. He continues to be a power threat, as evidenced by last season and his six homers through 33 games in 2016. However, he is hitting .185 with a .261 OBP. It's early in the season but that is not the start you want to see from a 36-year-old who's on base skills have been declining every year.
The Angels are having injury issues, have little budget flexibility, and control few impact prospects, which means it's not going to be an easy fixfor the last place club. Making matters worse is the fact that the Pujols contract is backloaded, which means that AFTER 2016 it still has five years and $140 million left. Albert Pujols was once the unquestioned best player in baseball. Now he might have the unquestioned worst contract in baseball.