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Albert Pujols is still ALBERT PUJOLS

Aug 12, 2011, 10:40 AM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers v St. Louis Cardinals Getty Images

Albert Pujols‘ season totals are still well below his usual standards because of his bad start, but he’s somewhat quietly been his usual dominant self and then some for the past two months.

Last night Pujols went 4-for-4 against the Brewers, smacking his 28th homer to move into a tie for the NL lead with teammate Lance Berkman. And thanks in large part to batting in front of Berkman’s (and Matt Holliday‘s) power Pujols also ranks second among NL hitters with 78 runs scored while being among the top 10 in slugging percentage, total bases, extra-base hits, and RBIs.

That’s one helluva down year.

In his last 50 games Pujols is hitting .312 with 20 homers, 16 doubles, and a 1.059 OPS. To put that in some context, coming into this season he was a career .331 hitter with a 1.050 OPS. In other words, he’s been his usual self since around May 30, with a fractured wrist in mid-June briefly interrupting things, but the slow start has kept that from being obvious to everyone.

  1. halladaysbiceps - Aug 12, 2011 at 10:46 AM

    Sure he is. Albert is the best player in the game. By season’s end, he will be at .300 with 38 hr and 110 rbi’s. This with missing 3 weeks. Remarkable!

    • aceshigh11 - Aug 12, 2011 at 10:50 AM

      I have no doubt that he’ll get his average up to .300 by the end of the season. The guy is a machine!

      • proudlycanadian - Aug 12, 2011 at 10:53 AM

        Almost a machine. Machines do not break their wrist. Otherwise, I agree with you. I wonder who he will play for next year?

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 12, 2011 at 10:57 AM

        The Cardinals. I don’t expect that he will go anywhere. The Cards know they cannot afford to lose him. They will have no choice but to pay him.

      • hittfamily - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:07 AM

        I was wondering the same thing. With both him and Prince, it will be interesting. The Red Sox have 2 first basemen (Youk) and a DH. The Yanks need a DH. The Dodgers are broke. The Angels have Trumbo and Morales, with Wells and Hunter making a ton of money. The Cubs are likely in the running, but my belief is Hendry will be fired, and I doubt the new GM will spend 200+ mill in his first offseason.

        I think they will both be disappointed with the salaries they get. Call me crazy, but I think one is a Blue Jay, and the other is the Yankees DH. I can’t rule out the Red Sox letting Papi go, because they would be in trouble if the Yanks get one and the Jays get the other. After the Nats spent all that money on Werth, I would have said Washington could be in the running as well, but not with Morse coming out as a premiere hitter. I think the Red Sox are more likely to set their sights on Reyes or Beltran, but you never know.

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:15 AM

        I do not see Albert Pujols going to the American League as a DH. No way. He’s the type of guy who prides himself as a complete ballplayer. His glove is off the charts at 1st base. He’s the best defensive 1st baseman in the NL.

        I just don’t see the guy leaving St. Lois. I’ll never forget the funny thing I saw in MLB’s Spring Training coverage. When Pujols showed up to the Cards training facility in spring training, they showed him pulling into the parking spot dedicated for the owner of the team. Hilarious!

        My guess is they give Albert a stake in ownership of the team to keep him.

      • hittfamily - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:22 AM

        I changed my mind already. Arod is locked up til he’s 42, so he will have to DH some in the coming years. Unless they play Albert at third while he’s DHing. Hmm….maybe I’m changing my back. It will be very interesting to see. I do not think Albert is a Card next year. They had the chance in the offseason to sign him. If they can’t get the deal done without others making offers, I can’t see them getting him with others breaking the bank for his services.

        A poster below said the Marlins. I actually think that is very possible. There is no income tax in Florida, so if all offers are equal, he saves 10% in Miami.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:23 AM

        If it came down to the Red Sox and Yankees offering the same money, I think he would choose the Red Sox because there’s more flexibility to play the field there. A-Rod and Texiera have already said they do not want to DH. I think Youk would do anything as long as he is putting on the uniform. Pujols can play first or third so he could take over at third for Youk and DH maybe 20-30 games a year. If it came down to Big Papi or Pujols, I don’t think the Red Sox would hesitate to say goodbye to Papi.

        Unless the Yankees backed up the Brinks truck and gave Pujols $35 million a year, he isn’t going there to be a DH full time and I don’t see Texiera moving to DH.

      • hittfamily - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:34 AM

        Could the Yankees move Arod back to short, Jeter to the OF, and Pujols to third? Jeters never been a good SS, and he is atrocious now. Ideally for the Yanks, Jeter would retire this offseason, but that won’t happen. I think the offesive output they would gain would far outweigh the defensive regression of having Pujols at third.

      • cur68 - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:34 AM

        The Beavermen don’t need a DH. They have a good one in Edwin Encarnacion. What they need is a 1st baseman who can hist better than Adam Lind who I see as trade bait for better closing pitcher along with Snider (now tearing it up in AAA).

        Think about it; Roger’s Center is a right hand hitter’s paradise and Phat Boy Al is approaching some big records. The Jay’s have some cash, thanks to an Angel lifting Wells off of them, and they have the tempting lineup of Phat Albert hitting near The Most Interesting Hitter In The World and EE, who’s turned into a stud. Now that’s some lineup protection, baby! The starting rotation is coming around with 3 definite and 1 possible (Romero, Morrow & Cecil with a ‘maybe’ on Alvarez: gotta wait and see!) so Phat Boy Al might be sorely tempted by a Wells-ian type contract.

        Oh, man! Phat Boy Al a Beaver Wrangler! Yeah, Baby!

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:46 AM

        hitt, about moving A-Rod to short, do you think he may have lost a step or two with the problems with his back and that he won’t be the same playing short? Also, I don’t think El Capitan is going to move anywhere. I don’t think Pujols is going to the Bronx because the Yankees have no flexibility to move Texiera, A-Rod, or Jeter anywhere. And another thought on the Sox…I think there’s a chance Youk would move to Right Field since they will need one next year and I think he could play the position pretty well. He has played the OF a few times the last couple years and with a full spring training to do so, he’d be fine.

        The more I think about it, the more I say there is almost zero chance the Yankees get Pujols…unless they offer him $35 million to DH or piss off one of the following people…A-Rod/Texiera/Jeter and I don’t see them doing that.

      • hittfamily - Aug 12, 2011 at 12:04 PM

        Undoubtedly Arod has lost a step, but he can’t be any worse than Jeter. I’m not trying to bash Jeter either, so I don’t want this to open those flood gates. Whatever they decide to do, they will have to commit to it for 5 years, so I doubt Arod to SS is a very good idea. But Arod ptting up Arod numbers will make up for the few balls he can’t get to that others can. SS is a massive luxury right now, and only an oft injured Reyes is available. Cano has the arm to play short, so maybe Arod or Albert would play second. I believe in good defense, but I also believe in the 175hr/500 rbi infield that the Yanks could have. I’ll take below average defense every day of the week for that infield.

        I think as good as the Yanks and Sox are this year, they will have to look over their shoulders in the next few years. The Rays will be good for a while, and the Jays are on the verge of being great, with a few key moves. I am better at predicting small clubs moves than big one’s. Tex isn’t a premiere first baseman. I mean he is, and he isn’t. He is a great player, but isn’t in the top 5 first baseman. If I run a club with a 250 mill payroll, I’m always looking for an upgrade, and I’m not letting my contender get both of these guys. Maybe they could move Tex to someone like the Cubs or the White Sox who would like a top player, without having to guarantee 7 years.

      • FC - Aug 12, 2011 at 12:51 PM

        Almost a machine. Machines do not break their wrist

        In the collision at 1B he sprung a liquid nitrogen leak in the cooling system in his arm that froze and cracked some internal components at the wrist. The poly-mimetic alloy took about a couple of weeks to reconstitute and reform the wrist.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:32 PM

        It didn’t break…it malfunctioned.

    • timstl - Aug 12, 2011 at 10:57 AM

      They said on the broadcast last night that he has to bat something like .360 the rest of the year to get up to .300. I mean, it’s possible, but I would bet against it.

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 12, 2011 at 10:59 AM

        Well, if he winds up hitting .290-.295, that’s close enough for me, considering where his batting average was.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:07 AM

        Where did they come up with that? I’m not stat expert, but if you look at a couple things…

        1) Assuming he gets 150 at bats between now and the end of the year. He needs to hit .344(51 for 144) between now and the end of the season, which isn’t all that far off. Especially since he was a career .331 hitter and he has hit over .344 in two different full seasons.

        2) Looking even shorter term, he can go on a tear and hit 19 for 40 and be at .300 in 2 weeks. Realistic? Probably not. But we are talking about Pujols here. They don’t call him The Machine for nothing. Even a 29 for 70 gets him to .300.

  2. paperlions - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    He isn’t exactly Albert Pujols. He patience has been horrible, he walk rate is way down, and he is getting himself out too often. He hasn’t ever had a walk rate below 10%, and since 2005 it has never been below 13.9%….this year, it is 8.5%, and that is not just from the slow start, he is swinging at waaaaay to many balls out of the strike zone.

    He is still awesome, and this seems to be more of a mental problem than a physical one, so it likely is fixable…and very well may be related to latent pressure associated with his impending FA status.

    • cktai - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:13 AM

      It seems odd that with Holliday and Berkman hitting behind him, Pujols seems to have changed his approach. His walk rate is down, but his slugging is up (.671 since June, .619 career) and so is his homerun percentage (10% since June, 7% career).

      • spudchukar - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:48 AM

        CK, teams seem to have decided they cannot pitch around him with the duo behind him and have taken a different tack. He hasn’t adapted well, as PL points out. Once a selective hitter, he has taken the approach that he can hit anything. Last night he resembled the Pujols of old, not just due to the 4 hits but more patience. With the numbers Holliday and Berkman have been putting up BBs would be a welcome change and give the Red Birds a better chance at winning.

    • cur68 - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:38 AM

      ‘Lions, are you doin’ OK? This is a lot of pessimism form you lately with a ‘hope & see’ statement tacked on the end. I sense a pattern here (the force is strong with me).

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:58 AM

        cur68,

        The force does exist. Roy Halladay is a Jedi Master. Yoda has nothing on Halladay.

      • cur68 - Aug 12, 2011 at 12:01 PM

        Cholly = Yoda? Same mangled syntax, same wrinkled appearance….could be. Could very well be…

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 12, 2011 at 12:04 PM

        Rollins is Mace Windu, Victorino is young Anakin, Utley is Young ObiWan, Pence is Han Solo and Ryan Howard is Darth Vader. That’s a helluva lineup.

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 12, 2011 at 12:10 PM

        If we still had Werth, would he have been Chewbacca?

      • natstowngreg - Aug 12, 2011 at 4:18 PM

        With the beard Werth has been sporting for the past several weeks, definitely Chewie.

    • paperlions - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:46 AM

      You shouldn’t confuse unbiased analysis with pessimism. He is NOT the same Pujols. Not making outs is the most important thing a hitter can do, he is making outs at a much higher rate than he used to, meaning is is NOT the same. However, the apparent reason he is not the same is “fixable”.

      PS: The force doesn’t exist.

      • cur68 - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:53 AM

        Definitely a strong sense of discontent here…hmmm…tell me, how are you sleeping?

        PS: Does so.

  3. crookedstick - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:10 AM

    I’m still not counting the Marlins out from making a big push to sign Pujols. They’re opening a new stadium next year, they need a marquee’ player to fill the seats, and he would be a great way to tap into the Hispanic Community and draw fans and sell jerseys. He’d be a big enough star to take a bit of the shine from LeBron and the Heat. If there was a darkhorse team to sign him, I’d take the Marlins.

    • halladaysbiceps - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:18 AM

      I think that’s a pipe dream. New stadium or not, they don’t have the market size to pay Pujols the type of coin he will get.

      • hittfamily - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:27 AM

        I thought the same thing when the Rangers signed Arod. How can they afford that? The only thing I can say for certain, is Albert will not be a Ray next year.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:30 AM

        Or a Royal, Athletic, Padre, Pirate either.

      • hittfamily - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:45 AM

        Cross those teams off the list too.

    • spudchukar - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:36 AM

      Are you forgetting who is the owner of the Marlins? Can’t see that cheapskate doling out the cash to attract Albert. If not the Cards, my best bet are the Rangers. I believe the Orioles and Cubs will be interested, but Pujols wants to go to a winner, and is probably too smart to choose either. Perhaps the Jays, but they would have to do some serious convincing, that they will compete. The Rangers have the cash, are determined to bring a championship to Dallas, and have a hitter’s park, all the necessary ingredients.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:51 AM

        Plus, the Marlins already have $46 million committed next year with arb raises coming to Sanchez, Nunez, Hensley, and more arb hearings coming to about 8 other guys. They aren’t going to break the bank and allow the payroll to go past $80 million just because they are opening a new stadium that will likely be half full by the end of the season.

      • bigxrob - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:00 PM

        Half full by the end of the season??
        That’s a very optimistic outlook for Marlins attendance.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:14 PM

        It’s a new stadium so I am giving them the benefit of the doubt. Plus you have to figure that fans from the rest of the National League will make the trek down there to see their team in the new stadium. I know I’ll be doing that for the Phillies next year.

  4. thefalcon123 - Aug 12, 2011 at 11:36 AM

    I always wondered what Pujols would have to do to earn the wrath of Cardinals fans (or at least the folks that post on STLTODAY). Apparently be on pace for 38 HR, 100 RBI and a .280/.350/.530 line.

    The *only* problem with Pujols has been that he’s not drawing walks. No coincidentally, this has lead to a career low BABIP and 25 double plays.

    The guy could very likley end up with 40 homers, 100 RBI and hit .290/.360/.550….and it will be the worst year of his career. Holy crap!

    • spudchukar - Aug 12, 2011 at 12:06 PM

      Look, I hope the Cards resign him for $300 mil and 10 years. However, the Cardinal management will never go that high. They should cause he has been a bargain for years. And He, more than any player I have ever watched is the most likely to still be worth it 10 years from now. But as PL has indicated he has developed some bad habits. It isn’t just the BBs. His doubles are down significantly, and he just hasn’t been the same selective hitter. I believe one can be critical and the same time appreciative. Perhaps last night is a precursor of things to come. No one would be happier than yours truly if he goes on a tear these last 45 games, but unless he returns to his patient self the likelihood is doubtful.

      • thefalcon123 - Aug 12, 2011 at 1:13 PM

        He’s on pace for 30 doubles.

        His doubles were down at the beginning of the year, but that too has corrected itself since those bad ol’ first 2 months.

      • spudchukar - Aug 12, 2011 at 3:37 PM

        That will still be his lowest total ever. But a couple of those years especially when he hit 33 doubles, he also hit 49 HRs, meaning what were doubles in other years became homers in 2006.

  5. icelovinbrotha215 - Aug 12, 2011 at 12:00 PM

    Why didn’t you eliminate them Albert?

    • caland13 - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:01 PM

      I am no expert, but I am a dedicated fan, and see about every at bat. Albert’s swing is off, and it starts with his feet – mainly, his front foot. He used to go up on his toe, then plant it right back down. Now, he is lifting his entire foot off of the ground, more times than not. This not only changes his eye level of sight, but it causes him to ‘step in the bucket’, opening up his hips to early, causing him to roll over on the pitches on the outside corner, and popping up the pitch in on his hands. The fact is, he is SO good, that he manages to produce, despite the issues.

      • spudchukar - Aug 12, 2011 at 3:26 PM

        Caland, Exactly. On other posts I have talked about this. Your analysis is spot on in my opinion. The problem is his weight which was once distributed evenly on the ball of his left foot, allowing him to drive his momentum straight through pitches is now on the outer part of his left foot, causing him to be unbalanced and like you say opening his hips too early. This makes you cut across the ball, topping it rather than driving through. He knows this and keeps trying to make his arms extend through the ball, at times successfully, but as you noted it is his weight shift, a kind of spin out move that is causing him problems.

        What is counter-intuitive is his inability to handle inside pitches, but it works like this. If you hips clear too early your hands drag, forcing you to pull the pitches foul. He used to have this uncanny ability to keep inside pitches fair because he was hitting the ball more out in front, throwing your hands at the ball creating a perpendicular angle, thus keeping it fair.

        The other problem is his recognition of the problem. Since the inside pitches are eating him up, he tries to cheat, get out in front. Sometimes that works, but then you start lunging and that makes you susceptible to breaking balls away and change-ups down. Like you said he is still so talented, that he has developed a new sweeping extended swing that allows him to handle the off-speed stuff. Most of his recent homers have come off of curves, sliders, and change-ups, which is not his history. This impatience, lunging also causes you to swing at pitches out of the zone, because you do not have the time decide. On the bright side last night he seemed more patient and quieter at the plate. Maybe he has finally figured it out, but bad habits are hard to break. Knowing what is the problem and being able to fix it are not the same thing.

  6. shaggytoodle - Aug 12, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    He has one game against the Brewers finally, they have been able to keep him in check for most of the season.

    • thefalcon123 - Aug 12, 2011 at 3:02 PM

      What do you mean, he has a robust .540 slugging against the Brewers.

      ….wait….that’s his OPS. :(

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