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Playing with numbers

Albert Pujols is one of my favorite subjects. At least until he decides he’s had enough in St. Louis and is leaving via free agency, a possibility I’m bracing for but hope doesn’t happen.

Anyway, for the 10th season in a row, Pujols is going to hit .300 or better, hit 30 homers or more and drive in at least 100 runs. He’s building one of the most incredible careers in baseball history and, if he keeps going at anything close to his current pace for 10 more years, it’ll be difficult to argue he’s not the greatest player of all-time.

Of course, projecting 10 more years is tricky. Pujols, like all players, will eventually slow down. Whether that’s in his early 30s, his mid-30s or into his 40s is anybody’s guess.

As of today, Pujols has 1,891 hits, 407 home runs, 1,224 RBI and has scored 1,179 runs.

Let’s say his averages in those departments decrease some in the next 10 years, assuming he plays 10 more years. For the sake of argument, let’s say he averages 175 hits instead of 190, 35 homers instead of 41, 100 RBI instead of 122 and 100 runs instead of 117. I think that’s reasonable.

If so, Pujols will finish his career with 3,641 hits, which would rank fourth all-time behind Pete Rose, Ty Cobb and Hank Aaron.

He would conclude his career with 757 homers, second to Barry Bonds’ 762.

Pujols would finish with 2,224 RBI; only Henry Aaron 2,247 would be better. Interestingly, only three players have driven in more than 2,000 runs. Two are easy: Aaron and Babe Ruth. Cap Anson (the dapper man pictured to the left) is the other. He drove in 2,075 runs during a 27-year big league career that concluded in 1897. Twenty-one of his seasons were spent with the Chicago Cubs.

And he would score 2,279 runs, second-most to Rickey Henderson’s 2,295.

Again, all of this happens only if Pujols remains healthy, which he has been able to do so far. Of the 1,610 games the Cardinals have played with Pujols, he has appeared in 1,549 of them. That’s an amazing accomplishment by itself.

Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners is another incredible hitter who is doing things we’ve never seen done.

Suzuki got his 200th hit of the 2010 season Thursday, the 10th straight season he’s topped that mark. Nobody in baseball history has accomplished that feat and Suzuki has done it in each of his big-league seasons. He came to the Mariners from Japan when he was 27, after being an All-Star caliber player in his native country.

Suzuki is one of the most outstanding leadoff hitters to ever play, but he’s the epitome of a singles hitter.

Of Ichiro’s 2,230 hits (including a record 262 in 2004, 1,813 (or 81.3 percent) are singles.

Pete Rose, considered the ultimate singles hitter during his long career, had 3,215 singles among his 4,256 hits.

Wichita State’s men’s basketball schedule was released recently and it’s solid. But only for road and neutral-site games. The home portion of the Shockers’ schedule leaves a lot to be desired.

I know you can’t load up everywhere, especially because wins mean so much in college basketball. But it’s a shame that season-ticket holders at WSU get to feast on the following teams: Texas Southern (17-16 in 2009-10); UMKC (12-18); Chicago State (9-23); Nicholls State (11-19) and Alabama A&M (11-16).

There’s also the return of the Wichita State-Tulsa rivalry. Those teams will meet on Dec. 21, likely at the Intrust Bank Arena. And that’s a high-quality game, especially since the Golden Hurricane are coming off a 23-12 season.

Otherwise, there’s just not much. Yes, the Shockers play in the Maui Classic, go to San Diego State and play LSU in Bossier City. There’s also a Bracket Busters game to be played at Koch Arena in February. All in all, a very good schedule. Just not crazy about five patsies at home.

By the way, I noticed Tulsa is playing Oklahoma State in the BOK center in downtown Tulsa on Dec. 8. Congratulations to those schools for putting that game together. And shame, shame, shame on Kansas and Kansas State – again – for not seeing fit to put Wichita State on their respective schedules. Some how, some way, that just has to happen. It’s ridiculous that it doesn’t.

College predictons

Kansas State 28, Central Florida 14

Kansas 31, New Mexico State 14

Alabama 30, Arkansas 21

South Carolina 24, Auburn 20

Boise State 34, Oregon State 21

Oregon 40, Arizona State 20

Shock Talk, the blog’s weekly brief and fun question and answer with a Wichita State athlete, will return next week. Why isn’t it here this week? Blame me, I suppose.

I’ll be back in this space tomorrow, blogging from Manhattan where I’ll be for the Central Florida-Kansas State game.