Monday, April 16, 2012

Pujols Gets a Slow Start in the AL

To start, I’m well aware that only 5% of the season has passed, I’m also well aware of what that means in terms of sample size, however 40 plate appearances for Albert Pujols and his stats tell a tale of a man who’s not yet comfortable at the plate. Pujols hasn’t exactly faced the cream of the crop yet in AL pitching facing the likes of Phil Hughes, Jonathan Sanchez, and Luke Hochevar  he hasn’t quite gotten things going. He’s gotten 3 walks, 3 doubles, and has reached base 12 times overall, but he has yet to hit a homerun in what is now the longest streak of his career to open a season without going yard. There’s no reason to believe that he won’t be able to get his bat up to snuff, but for a man who usually puts about 42 balls out of the park, this is not the start that LA was hoping for with their new slugger.

It should be noted that while Pujols’ last season in St. Louis was not his best, to the contrary, it may well have been his worst. His stat line across the board is still quite impressive, it just wasn’t Pujols impressive. Having put together his worst batting average (.299), on base percentage (.366), slugging percentage (.541),  and grounding into more double plays (29) than ever before, he still hit 37 home runs, stole 9 bases on 10 attempts, and had 29 doubles. His RBI total was the lowest in his career (99) and his run total wasn’t up to what we’d expect either, but those are pretty heavily influenced by the people around him, so those can be taken with a grain of salt.

It bears noting that Pujols played through the majority of what should have been 6 weeks on the DL with a broken forearm last season, and has been dealing with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament for several years now. In case you’re scratching your head about that one, that’s the ligament replaced during Tommy John Surgery. That’s right, If Pujols was a pitcher, he’d have had to bite the bullet and ride the pine for a year, but instead he has had 2 off season surgeries to keep the elbow manageable, and while he would likely not tell anyone if it was bothering him, this should certainly be looked at as a long term risk factor for the Angels, if not a cause for some for some of these early season woes if they are to continue.

Overall, I can’t say I expect this slow start to carry on much longer, but given his previous injuries, if they do carry through the next 5 - 10 games, it might be a cause for his new team to sit him down and see what his health status really is.


  1. Albert's OPS by month last year:

    I don't think he'll be as average as he was in 2011 for the first two months. He'll make adjustments to the league and get rolling.q

  2. BTW, if I'm the Angels, I get scared of that drastic drop in OBP last year. Going from 443 in 2009 to 414 in 2010 to 366 last year. If his eyesight is going on him (which is always possible), his skills will diminish quickly.

  3. I'm certainly not trying to knock Pujols, he was still very productive last year, despite a diminished OPB. I wouldn't worry about his eye sight, Lasik is a relatively cheap procedure, and last I checked is more or less an outpatient procedure now. if he has 2 off days in a row, he could get it done and not miss a game.

    I'm more concerned with whether or not his elbow is barking and he's not saying anything because of the mega-contract so he's cheating on his swing a bit. He might otherwise be willing to wait back on a pitch a bit longer and take more walks, or otherwise drive the ball better. He may have also been swinging for the fences last season knowing it was a contract year and he needed to put up good power numbers after breaking his arm, and he has to work that bad habit off.

    I have no doubts that he'll make adjustments and get going, but for a guy who has refused surgery and dealt with an injury for several years that would have sent any one of the 330 MLB pitchers to the DL, it would be foolish for the Angels to completely ignore it if this start lingers on much longer.