CLEVELAND, OH: Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim reacts after hitting a ground ball for an out during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
9 Total Updates since May 1, 2012
12 months ago Article 6 commentsContinue
12 months ago Article 6 comments
Albert Pujols isn't still looking like one of the worst hitters in the majors ... but he's still not looking like one of the best, either.
about 1 year ago Update 0 comments
Albert Pujols signed with the Los Angeles Angels in December, and in spring training, he was fantastic. He was Albert Pujols, basically. Since spring training, Albert Pujols has played in 35 games that mattered, batting 149 times. Over those 149 trips to the plate, he's hit .197 with a .510 OPS. You know the story by now - it's a catastrophe. Nobody really knows what's going on, and if you ask Pujols nothing is going on, but this has gone on long enough that we can't just dismiss it as noise.
At our own Lone Star Ball, the author takes a look at the worst 35-game stretches Pujols has ever had in his career. We have a pretty good understanding that Pujols has never before been this bad for this long. What is the most bad he has been for this long?
In his career, he's had 9 seasons where he never had a single 35 game stretch with an OPS below .800 and in 2003 his lowest OPS over one of these periods was .995(!). His only two below .700 have come in the last two seasons, with 2012 as the runaway winner in terms of being terrible. His .510 OPS is 162 points than his next worse and 265 points lower than his next worse after that.
What really astounds me is how low his OBP is during his current season compared to all previous years. In 933 samples, only twice was his OBP below .333, his current .235 and a runner up in 2011 at .322. These same two awful periods are his only two with an AVG below .250 in his career, a .248 in 2011 that's 51 points higher than his current .197.
From a power outage standpoint, his current .077 ISO isn't his career worst. In 2011 he had an .075 that was slightly worse, and 2011 was filled with several stretches of overlapping periods with very poor ISOs. Outside of 2012, 2011, 2010 and a few rough patches in 2007, he's never had any periods with an ISO below .195.
Click through for all of the data. Has Albert Pujols ever been this bad for this long? No. Has Albert Pujols ever been close to this bad for this long? No. Does that mean he's completely bollocksed going forward? No. Does it mean we have every reason to worry about Albert Pujols going forward? Yes. Maybe not every reason. But lots of reasons, at least.
about 1 year ago Update 1 comment
Did you know that Albert Pujols has been terrible so far with the Angels? Of course you did, it's all anybody wants to talk about because what on earth is going on with Albert Pujols? It would be one thing for Albert Pujols to show signs of decline. We expect Albert Pujols to show signs of decline because he is up there in years. It's quite another for Albert Pujols to look like one of the worst players in baseball. Just last year he was terrific. The year before he was amazing. According to FanGraphs' WAR, since 2009 Pujols has dropped from 9.0 to 7.5 to 5.1 to -1.0. I am very familiar with the issues with WAR but I also know that conveys the proper idea.
Pujols, sports, terrible. A little while ago we shared a Joe Posnanski article on the subject of Pujols' swing. Here we share a Chris O'Leary article on the subject of Pujols' swing. This one is a wee bit more analytical, complete with nifty .gifs. An excerpt:
I've spent a bit more time looking at Albert Pujols' swing and looking for differences between his 2011 swing and his 2012 swing. As part of that effort, I put the clip below together.
I continue to see few significant differences between the two swings, with the exception of the back legs and the back feet.
The thing to compare is the stability of Albert Pujols' back leg, and his back foot in particular.
In the 2011 clip, Albert Pujols' back leg and back foot are rock steady. In contrast, in the 2012 clip, Albert Pujols' back leg is unsteady and his back foot skids around underneath him as his hips start to rotate.
In my opinion that difference, while small, is potentially significant because, in my experience, an unsteady back foot is often associated with power deficits and swings that are less efficient than than they could be.
Click through for the .gifs and the rest. I can't tell you whether O'Leary is absolutely correct in his analysis, but he presents a convincing case, or I am just easily convinced. Or both. It stands to reason that something is off, right? 2011 Albert Pujols doesn't just turn into 2012 Albert Pujols without a trigger. If he does, then ... well I'm not really prepared to deal with the implications.
about 1 year ago Update 0 comments
I am going to present to you some facts. Last December, the Los Angeles Angels gave Albert Pujols a ten-year, $240 million contract. In 2011, Albert Pujols posted a 148 OPS+. So far in 2012, Albert Pujols has posted a 46 OPS+. Mario Mendoza, the infielder after whom the Mendoza Line was named, posted a career 41 OPS+. Mendoza was a defense-first shortstop and Pujols is supposed to be an offense-first first baseman.
So, Albert Pujols' slump is a bit of a thing. Here's Joe Posnanski with his analysis:
One thing I never see -- ever, no how matter how many replays they show -- is what the analysts talk about when they break down a golfer’s swing with the Konika-Travolta-Biz-Hub-Scientology-Royale-With-Cheese camera. It’s always “look at the downward plane of his and watch the hand position when he and notice how he maintains his body pose to create torque that torques when he torques and see the subtle movement of his left wrist as he …” No idea what they’re talking about. Was watching the Players Championship over the weekend and Johnny Miller -- when he wasn’t talking about how every player chokes always -- was explaining the left arm of some golfer, and all the other analysts were going “Yes, oh yes, I see that, oh isn’t that fascinating.” And I saw nothing.
So that’s why it was absolutely shocking when I watched Albert Pujols play Sunday night.
Even to a dunderhead like me, it’s clear: His swing has absolutely fallen apart.
But I’ll say it anyway. I think [Terry Francona's] completely wrong. Pujols' swing looks nothing like it did. The wide stance has narrowed significantly. His legs used to be tree trunks; a hurricane could not move this guy. Not anymore. He looks wobbly at the plate. His swing used to be the most balanced thing of beauty imaginable -- everything stayed perfectly still as the bat would rush through the zone with fury -- now he’s lunging at the ball, stepping at the ball, his head seems to be moving all over the place.
I don't know if Joe Posnanski is correct. I'm not watching Albert Pujols right now, and I'm not an expert on swing mechanics. I'm not even an amateur when it comes to analyzing swing mechanics. Terry Francona knows a lot more about swing mechanics than I do, or than Joe Posnanski does, and Francona evidently isn't concerned. But Posnanski is seeing something and I find it highly unlikely that Pujols isn't in some way messed up. Maybe reversibly messed up, but messed up. A guy like that ... this shouldn't happen to a guy like that if he's more or less normal. The slump has gone on for too long.
about 1 year ago Article 25 comments
Some time ago, Albert Pujols finally hit his first home run as an Angel. "Pujols is back!" they said. No, he's not.
about 1 year ago Update 0 comments
You can take a deep breath, Orange County, California. Your prized off-season acquisition has cleared the fences in a regular-season baseball game wearing your team colors!
In an attempt to quell his slugger's struggles at the plate, Angels manager Mike Scioscia sat Pujols for Saturday's game. The DNP paid off.
The Angels, who are in last place in the AL West, were able to have fun with Pujols' first dinger of the season, exhibiting something far more hilarious than the typical cold-shoulder treatment teams have been known to do when a player hits his first career home run or snaps out of an excruciating long cold streak.
Yes, in fairness to #angels, clearing the dugout in its entirety takes the concept to a new level. Even Scioscia fled.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) May 6, 2012
Assuming this signals a shift back to normalcy for one of the game's best hitters, it will surely silence the noise being created by a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story that quoted former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.
In the article, LaRussa offered his take on Pujols' slow start, suggesting that his former first baseman is affected and distracted by living away from his family, among other things.
The Angels currently lead the Blue Jays 4-2 in the top of the seventh. If they hold on, they will have won five of their last seven games.
Maybe things won't be so bad for this highly touted club much longer.
For more information on the Anaheim Angels, please visit Halos Heaven.
about 1 year ago Update 0 comments
Hey look, it's a St. Louis-area baseball writer writing about Albert Pujols even though Albert Pujols hasn't played for St. Louis since last October. It's like, get over it already, right? Except actually it's not like that at all. Here's Bernie Miklasz discussing Pujols' wildly uncharacteristic struggles with the Angels, and while some of what he says is uninteresting and some of what he says we already knew, some of what he says is extremely insightful. In this author's opinion. I just assume that all your opinions mirror my own. Here are my two favorite parts of Miklasz's analysis:
* One disturbing sign for Pujols: the ball isn't traveling as far when he hits it into the air. (I'm talking fly balls, not liners or pop-ups.) According to the web site beatthemaps.com, Pujols fly balls are traveling an average of 266 feet so far this season. That's a drop from an average of 313 feet in 2010, and 303 feet in 2011. (Hat tip to Fangraphs for alerting readers to the beat the maps site.)
* Pujols seems to be awfully anxious to end his home-run drought. He's been pull-crazy so far, yanking way too many batted balls to the left side. According to STATS, 41 percent of Pujols' batted balls have been grounders to the left side. This year 27 percent of Pujols' batted balls have been hit in the air to left field. So if you add it up, 68 percent of his batted balls have been pulled to left. Last season 40 percent of Pujols' batted balls were pulled to left. Big difference. Pujols has always been at his best when he's shooting hard-hit balls to all parts of the field, especially the middle.
If you analyze virtually any player's slump, you'll probably find some negative indicators. Some reasons for that slump's very existence. Otherwise the player probably wouldn't be slumping. Far more often than not, the indicators reverse, and the player pulls out of his slump and goes back to being himself. I think the expectation is still that Albert Pujols will be more or less fine when he gets going.
But it's interesting to think about where Albert Pujols' new true-talent baseline might be. The fact of the matter is that he is now doing some things he hasn't done, or hasn't done as much, in the past. He's getting older, and he's around the point at which we expect players - even the great ones - to get worse. Pujols is under contract for a very long time and already, with just a month in the books, we're wondering if he's even Albert Pujols anymore.
Pujols will improve on his .547 OPS. Mario Mendoza posted a career .507 OPS. Will Pujols improve by two hundred points, three hundred points, four hundred points, or five hundred points? We don't know right now. Which is ... well, it's crazy, is what it is. He's Albert Pujols!
about 1 year ago Update 3 comments
Oh, of course the headline is misleading and inflammatory. But it's almost funny! Really, though, the news is that Albert Pujols is frustrated. Of course he is. He's struggling like he hasn't struggled in his career, even as a 21-year-old rookie. This is almost certainly the most trouble he's had with hitting a baseball in his life. He's frustrated.
"The positive things that are being said … this clubhouse is not separating, it's bonding more than ever," Hatcher said. "I tell them, 'The magic can start today.' I refuse to do it any other way."
He said other things, too. All of them just as innocuous. And he also told beat reporters that Pujols told his teammates not to expect the same struggles all season long. That last part didn't even make the article.
How did Albert Pujols respond? From CBS Sports:
"Mickey should have never told you guys that," Pujols said. "That stuff needs to be private. He should have never told the media.
"What we talked about at the meeting, not disrespecting Mickey, but that stuff should stay behind closed doors."
Just as there are unwritten rules in baseball games, so too are there unwritten rules about baseball clubhouses. And Pujols can't plunk Hatcher in the butt with a retaliatory fastball.
No one's really right; no one's really wrong. It's a non-issue. But it's a good way to show the frustration of Albert Pujols, who has exactly one fewer home run than Brandon Crawford or Freddy Galvis.