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Elvis Andrus: “If Pujols doesn’t chase, give him first base”

Oct 23, 2011, 11:53 AM EDT

pujols smile getty Getty Images

Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus has a revolutionary idea for the Texas pitching staff: whenever Albert Pujols steps to the plate for the remainder of the World Series, either keep all pitches out of the strike zone or simply give him a free, intentional pass.

Via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News:

“We cannot take chances on Pujols,” Andrus said after Saturday’s 16-7 Game 3 loss to the Cardinals. “Everybody knows how good he is. We’ve got to execute pitches. If he doesn’t chase, give him first base. We’d rather see Matt Holliday beat us than Pujols. You never want to see the best hitter beat you.”

It’s the kind of thing you hear TV analysts suggest often, but is it really a smart strategy? And will it actually stymie the Cards’ attack?

Holliday went 1-for-5 in Game 3 Saturday and is just 2-for-11 through the first three games of this Fall Classic. But he’s also batting .326/.420/.465 across 50 plate appearances this postseason and carries a .929 career OPS. The guy is a monster. Behind him is Lance Berkman, with a career .954 OPS. And right behind Berkman is David Freese, the hottest overall hitter in these 2011 playoffs.

Walking Pujols at every turn might make sense on the surface, but the St. Louis lineup is deep enough to make the Rangers pay dearly. If Ron Washington is going to employ Andrus’ strategy, he’ll have to pick and choose his spots. Feeding the Cardinals free base runners will only lead to trouble.

  1. Old Gator - Oct 23, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    All those pundits who “heavily favored” the Rangers have gone pretty quiet alla sudden, no?

    • cur68 - Oct 23, 2011 at 12:06 PM

      No one has ever called me “quiet”…except when I fell out of a tree and knocked myself unconscious as a kid, then my family reports that they knew something bad had happened because the neighborhood had gone quiet…other than that….no.

      • Old Gator - Oct 23, 2011 at 12:26 PM

        I don’t know where my kaiju co-conspirator Gamera the Brave is today, but when you think about it, Pujols presents Ron Washington with a conundrum akin to Serizawa’s over whether or not to use the oxygen destroyer. And of course Serizawa was right: there are antioxidants all over the place now.

      • cur68 - Oct 23, 2011 at 12:51 PM

        Hey, I am become death, the Destoroyah of words: I shall never be silent (though I remain deadly, especially after a big beef and bean burrito). Rangers are not out of this yet. There be strategizing and stuff going on.

      • Old Gator - Oct 23, 2011 at 5:04 PM

        Nice synergy between Toho Productions and the Gita (though you could have been quoting Oppenheimer derivatively – nicely done either way, especially considering that the kaiju eiga are how the Japanese film industry keeps the spirit of August 1945 alive and kicking).

    • philsieg - Oct 23, 2011 at 1:19 PM

      Let’s not forget the Yankees won three games from the Pirates in 1960 by scores of 10-0, 12-0, and 16-3. And those were their only wins in the Series.

      Cards are up 2-1 and they may well win the Series. But one blowout win doesn’t clinch it. Let’s see whether Good Edwin shows up tonight first.

      • paperlions - Oct 23, 2011 at 6:43 PM

        I think the point of the comment was that most picked the Rangers in 4, 5, or 6 games, and the Rangers are VERY lucky not to be down 3-0 right now…much less on their way to an easy series win.

    • lardman10 - Oct 23, 2011 at 6:28 PM


  2. derekjetersmansion - Oct 23, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    Memphis manager Johnnie Cochran must be thrilled by this comment.

  3. aceshigh11 - Oct 23, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    “You never want to see the best hitter beat you.”

    I don’t get this line of thinking.

    Isn’t it LESS humiliating to be beaten by the best hitter in baseball than someone improbable and mediocre like, say, Bucky Dent?

    At least if Pujols beats you, then you can say, “Well, he IS the best hitter in baseball. What do you want?”

    • Bryz - Oct 23, 2011 at 2:26 PM

      This line of thinking makes more sense when you have fewer guys to avoid in the lineup. If you “don’t let the best hitter beat you,” then you’re relying on the worse hitters in the lineup on beating you, and clearly those guys are less likely to succeed than the best hitter in the lineup. However, when it comes to the Cardinals, the alternatives to facing Pujols are Holliday and Berkman. That’s how this phrase doesn’t make sense in this case.

      You are correct though, it is more humiliating to be beaten by one of the lesser hitters in the lineup.

      • aceshigh11 - Oct 23, 2011 at 3:00 PM

        It makes more sense when explained that way. Thanks.

      • Roger Moore - Oct 23, 2011 at 3:39 PM

        The worse hitters may be less likely to beat you in any given situation, but pitching around the best hitter means the situations won’t be equal. You increase the chances of the worse hitter beating you because he’s more likely to be batting with a runner on base he can drive in. It still might make sense to walk Pujols in critical situations or when it can set up a double play- especially since neither Holiday nor Berkman is knows as a speed demon- but you still have to go after him sometimes.

    • paperlions - Oct 23, 2011 at 6:45 PM

      Um, I think the point is to NOT get beat, not to get beaten by a lesser player.

  4. thefalcon123 - Oct 23, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    How quickly Andrus forgets game 1 and 2…in which Pujols was pitched to and it turned out just fine.

    It’s almost always a silly strategy to intentionally walk somebody (there are scenario’s that it makes sense, but Andrus is clearly not referring to those). Putting an automatic runner on base every time for Holliday and Berkman would be a recipe for disaster. Let’s not forget, OPS was 3rd(!) on the team this year behind those two. Granted, he had a down year and is a better player, but Holliday and Berkman are excellent players.

    In summary Texas, please intentionally walk Albert every time!

  5. jason9696 - Oct 23, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    If I’m Texas I intentionally walk Pujols every single time today. Even if the bases are loaded. The only time I wouldn’t walk him is if there are two out, nobody on base and Texas is up by more than 1 run. But I hope they don’t walk him at all because I want the Cards to win.

  6. ms72lbc - Oct 23, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    Baseball has fallen so far in fan popularity in the last 20 years and Andrus’ strategy would only serve to further alienate the fans. Fans want to see the best pitchers in the game face the best hitters. Besides, what kind of a competitor is a pitcher who doesn’t want to face the best hitter in the game on the game’s biggest stage? Do the fans a service and let them play!

    • paperlions - Oct 23, 2011 at 6:47 PM

      I know, right. No fans ever go to games anymore, and the league has not set several all-time attendance records the last few years and experienced only minor reductions in attendance during a horrible economy…nope, none of those things happened, because people don’t like baseball.

      PS: Prime time TV ratings do not equal popularity.

      • ms72lbc - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:22 AM

        No, but the fact that the NFL is now nearly 20 times more popular than MLB, NASCAR is 3 times more popular, and of all things, soccer is on the verge of passing it is telling. Even the Texas Rangers (who may or not win the WS) are a very poor draw. Something needs to be done to energize baseball fans, and intentionally walking the best hitter in BB is not the answer.

      • paperlions - Oct 24, 2011 at 8:04 AM

        You just made that up. In fact, the NFL is almost, but not quite, twice as popular and MLB is still far more popular than NASCAR. There is actual data on this topic, no need for fabrication.

      • philsieg - Oct 24, 2011 at 8:38 AM

        The NFL owes its popularity to two factors. One is gambling. It’s by far the easiest team sport for the casual player to wager on. From office pools to on-line betting sites, a bettor needs only a rudimentary knowledge of the game to wager on point spreads, quarter-by-quarter scoring and the like. That it’s a made-for-TV “game” only facilitates this.

        The second is the ability for the “fan” to experience violence vicariously in a socially acceptable manner. The increase in the culture of violence that permeates football correlates well with the decline in popularity of boxing. As it became increasingly unacceptable to enjoy watching two people beat the mortal hell out of each other, football stepped in to fill that void for a society in which violence in part of the fabric. It’s a modern version of gladiatorial combat coated in a thin veneer of macho jingoism.

        Remove or modify these factors and the fan base will shrink precipitously.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Oct 24, 2011 at 5:59 PM

        I’m with him – I hate intentional walks altogether. It’s cowardly.

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