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Albert Pujols: 22 games without a home run

May 18, 2011, 10:35 AM EDT

St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates Getty Images

Something I had not realized was going on until I read Derrick Goold’s column this morning: Albert Pujols has now gone 22 games without a home run.

I’m not going to panic about it because of any current slumping star, I figure Pujols is the most likely to rebound and the most likely to do so quickly. But this does make me wonder a bit about the free agency thing.

I don’t think his performance this year changes the actual value calculus too much. I mean sure, if he ends the season with a sub-.800 OPS it might, but at the end of the year I figure he’ll be back to outstanding, even if he’s a bit below his peak. But I do wonder if a couple of teams who may have considered making life difficult for the Cardinals will be scared off and that, as a result, the giant fiasco of Pujols-the-free-agent many have anticipated isn’t largely averted.

Put differently: I wonder if a quiet year from Pujols manages to thread the needle just perfectly in that it (a) won’t depress his value too much; but (b) will make his ultimate re-signing by St. Louis a relative non-event as everyone in baseball realizes that there isn’t any other team hot for the guy.

  1. The Common Man/www.platoonadvantage.com - May 18, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    Option #2: He believes that he’s already on the Cubs.

  2. cintiphil - May 18, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    I always liked this guy and his talent, but now, maybe he is human indeed. In the last series against the Reds, he did little to help the Cards. It went a long way to helping the Reds sweep.

  3. cur68 - May 18, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    There’s something to be said for knowing the right picture for a given story. Looking at Albert’s mug up there you can just tell he knows something stinks.

    • Old Gator - May 18, 2011 at 10:52 AM

      As I noted below, sharing a podium with a couple of karmically infestuated slugs like Beck and Palin will do nothing for your destiny except start it rolling downhill. He probably touched one or the other, or maybe both. Eccccchhhhhh.

      • cur68 - May 18, 2011 at 11:01 AM

        I wonder if you aren’t on to something here, Gator. If the Colbert bump causes a negative skew then the Palin-Beck bump must be a positive skew. Something has to account for the way Albert is homering as often as Joe Blanton (<-hyperbole for all of you who will get on here and tell me how wrong I am).

      • giboxer5 - May 18, 2011 at 11:18 AM

        How dare anyone in politics actually care about this country. Clearly you subscribe to the Obama “F!@K the U.S. and it’s constitution” theory. Way to bring politics onto a sports site you socialist troll!!

      • cur68 - May 18, 2011 at 11:33 AM

        giboxer5; Aren’t you the guy going around making claims about Albert on roids? You brought that up and no one (yet!) has torn you a new one for it.

        Since it behooves you to cast baseless aspersions about a talented ball player like Pujols around I’ll take it as said that you have ZERO credibility when it comes to calling someone out for bringing up politics.

        As a Canadian, I have to say you Americans are rather lucky to have a smart person in charge these days. Things were going real well under the previous administration, weren’t they?

      • Old Gator - May 18, 2011 at 3:45 PM

        GIboxer5 demonstrates the proposition that whereas there are indeed a few intelligent conservatives – Chris Matthews pronounced Sara Palin “profoundly stupid” last night, and William F. Buckley Jr. could not only play a mean Vivaldi on his harpsichord but also discovered the perfect peanut butter – there are only dimwitted right wingnuts.

        I mean, who else would be dumb enough to try to insult a self-declared socialist by calling him a socialist?

  4. banksatdixie - May 18, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    He’s done. He just went from $30MM/year to like $8MM…..

    Disclaimer: sarcasm

  5. halladaysbiceps - May 18, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    He started laying off the roids, just like 80% of baseball. Look at the decline of numbers this year throughout the league and explain why this suspicion is wrong.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - May 18, 2011 at 11:10 AM

      [dear god why I'm doing this?]

      Why, when testing began in ’04, would he start laying off them now?

      And if you want real reasons for his struggles, you could say his ground ball rate is the highest it’s ever been (50.7% vs career 40%), his line drive rate is the lowest it’s ever been (15.1% vs career 19%), lowest fly ball rate and lowest career home run per fly ball rate. Maybe he’s hurt, maybe he has a problem with his genius (sarcasm) manager playing him at different positions, or maybe it’s just too early in the season.

      But yeah, definitely steroids.

      • cur68 - May 18, 2011 at 11:16 AM

        Church; I too ask the question, why are you doing this? And you are compounding your problems by using actual facts and logic, too. Man you are a glutton for punishment but I salute you for wading in where no other would go.

      • Jonny 5 - May 18, 2011 at 11:50 AM

        Like a moth to the flame. I too find it difficult to resist.

      • Charles Gates - May 18, 2011 at 11:52 AM

        Stop. It’s obvious. ALL of the pitchers that Pujols has faced have been roiding.

      • The Rabbit - May 18, 2011 at 12:30 PM

        I doff my chapeau to you, outraged, for your factual assessment of Albert’s situation and bravery to respond to (with the appropriate Charles Emerson Winchester emphasis) “cretins”.
        If memory serves from the whining from my fantasy baseball opponents who had drafted Pujols, Albert had a slump last summer that lasted this long. He may have hit a HR during that stretch but his OBP tanked during that time. He rebounded very nicely.

        Admit it, Craig… halladaysbiceps (with out or without the t) is a figment of your imagination. You created a blog denizen with the concept of a fan from Philly (where else would you pick?) with no firing neurons for the purpose of generating comments. Very sneaky.

      • cur68 - May 18, 2011 at 12:44 PM

        Rabbit: you could be be right. No one can be this dense. It has to be deliberate. We’re on to you Calcaterra!

      • spudchukar - May 18, 2011 at 12:47 PM

        Albert’s problem is mechanical. He is clearing his hips too early. Possibly this is a result/response to being pounded inside. When this occurs it saps your power, has you reaching for breaking balls, and jumping at pitches with the resulting ground balls. It also throws you off balance as your weight shifts to the outside of your plant foot rather than balancing on the ball of your foot allowing you to hit “through” the ball.

        The accusation of PED use is so wrongheaded it should garner no response, but considering the source hardly surprizing.

        The picture is an old one, but I can fantasize that Albert just overheard the Knuckledragging, recently renamed (to avoid embarassment) halladybicepts’ unsubstantiated statement of ‘roid use and the subsequent ensuing confrontation.

      • bigxrob - May 18, 2011 at 12:52 PM

        Funny you say that Rabbit, I was thinking the exact same thing during Halladaysbicep’s comments/insults yesterday.
        I also contemplated that Craig may be creating a comic book with an irrational philly fan as the main character. He would go around, spewing irrational ideas, overreacting to everything, getting in fights, throwing batteries and puking on people, with the last scene always being the character getting tased. He is just using this forum to trot out some ideas, to see what works.

  6. giboxer5 - May 18, 2011 at 11:12 AM

    Looks like it’s time to up the HGH dosage. Call the factory because Albert is already wearing a bigger hat size than Barry ever did..

  7. atlsp - May 18, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    Albert has also hit into a league-leading 13 double plays this year. That puts him on pace for 49 this year and would blow away Jim Rice’s ML record of 36 in 1984.

    Like Craig I expect him to return to his typical machine-like form sometime in the near future but to do so he’ll have to start getting the ball in the air a little more often.

  8. thefalcon123 - May 18, 2011 at 12:00 PM

    He doesn’t look good at the plate at all. I watch a lot of games and am too lazy to actually look up data, but it *seems* like every single pitch is a grounder to short. Ever. Single. Time. Not only does he have just 7 home runs, more alarmingly, he has just 4 doubles (on of which should have been a pretty routine fly ball if not for the adventurous fielding of Ben Francisco). It isn’t time to panic, but I am getting a little worried.

    • Tim's Neighbor - May 18, 2011 at 1:36 PM

      Watching him in BP when he was in Atlanta, he just didn’t look the same as last year either. Wiser baseball minds could probably explain more about his mechanics and whatnot, I just know that it didn’t sound or look the same.

  9. Jonny 5 - May 18, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    BTW, your “put differently” idea has been floated by me as well when he wasn’t signed. St Louis had nothing to gain by signing him before this season began. As it stands this may save them money. Maybe.

  10. paperlions - May 18, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    So far this year, it is like Pujols already is gone. Of his paltry total of 4 doubles, two were gifts, one lost in the sun by the CF that should have been caught easily and one horribly played by Francisco during the Philly series that turned an easy out into a 2B.
    .
    Considering his age and the length of contract it is said he is seeking, even a great year that is a notch or two below his previous standards will dramatically affect his value, demand, and ultimate contract. If he struggles for 1/2 year, which he’s never done before, that will make every team re-consider the prudence of offering $25-30MM/year for 8+ years.
    .
    Not only has he looked like crap at the plate, he has made a number of bone-headed plays on defense as well. He just “doesn’t look right”…whatever that means. I look forward to his return to form…as it is now, I dread every time he comes to the plate with runners on and less than 2 out.

    • riverace19 - May 18, 2011 at 1:24 PM

      You are dead on paperlions:
      He doesn’t look right. He is hacking and slashing at the ball instead of keeping his hands inside and barreling the ball and driving it.
      His ground ball rate is 50.7% compared to 9-year avg of 40.8%
      His line drive rate is 15.1%, lowest in 9 years
      Fly ball rate is also lowest, and his 13.5% HR/FB rate doesn’t help either.

      His contract situation is obviously in his head because this is the best lineup protection he has had in a long time. If this continues, it probably won’t reduce his annual salary but should definitely reduce his length of contract.

  11. yankeesfanlen - May 18, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    I see my plot is working now……Subbing Pujols for ARod was a great diabolical idea!

    • Old Gator - May 18, 2011 at 3:56 PM

      I humbly submit that, even with the unfortunate Palin/Beck stupid-contamination problem, Albert is pressing as he looks to have a blowout contract walk year. Then again, perhaps piety and marital continence just don’t count for much in a La Niña year, even with a blatantly manipulative award for it, and aren’t protecting him from the Cincinnati fans who are happily sticking Voodoo pins in a package of Glier’s goetta dressed up like Albert. Could be a whole range of things. Who knows?

      Len – you get ahold of Liberty Street yet?

      • paperlions - May 18, 2011 at 4:03 PM

        I submit that when 90% of the readers see the words “Palin” or “Beck” in one of your posts the roll their eyes and immediately move on to the next post.

      • yankeesfanlen - May 18, 2011 at 4:09 PM

        Liberty Street in anticipated but unfortunately still in the hands of a third-party amazon vendor and/or the mitts of a clumsy media mail handler of USPS> Am entertaining myself with the Hank the Deuce “Never Complain, Never Explain” biography to get a grasp on prospective French Presidents.

      • jimbo1949 - May 18, 2011 at 4:22 PM

        Maybe he’s worried about the rapture-palooza this weekend?

      • Old Gator - May 18, 2011 at 10:58 PM

        Paperlions: I can hardly blame them. When I see the words “Palin” or “Beck” on a news report, I usually do the same thing. However, it’s nice to know that there are a few puer aeterni out there who believe strongly enough in baseball’s insularity from the rest of the economic and political fabric of civilization that they take the time to complain about my reinstating the connection, however offhandedly, and to revile me with bilious innuendoes and tautological insults. Kinda makes my day, you know?

        Len – it’ll get there. Even the USPO occasionally delivers something correctly.

  12. swisher4mayor - May 18, 2011 at 10:16 PM

    this is one of Pujjols’ best start , but im pretty sure he will start hitting again soon enough.

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