Albert Pujols: Still Great, But Not the Same Guy

pujols-at-camp_opt.jpg
No comment. 
There's a really interesting article up right now over at Baseball Prospectus, the venerable analysis site, regarding a subject very near and dear to Cardinals' fans' hearts. What makes it extra nice is the folks at BP have made the full thing available free right out front, rather than sticking it behind the pay wall. 

The subject? Albert Pujols. Actually, to be more specific, the decline of Albert Pujols. Which, of course, we pretty much all have some sort of interest in, one way or the other. 

When the Cardinals offered Albert a huge deal this offseason, only to see him head out for Anaheim and the mega-deal Arte Moreno and the Los Angeles Angels offered him, most of the fans here took a fairly pragmatic, rational view of the situation. Sure, he's a once in a lifetime sort of player, most said, but ten years is an awfully long time. And a quarter of a billion dollars is one hell of a lot of money. Most fans seemed fairly content to trust the club -- not always the easiest thing to do -- even though they were letting a franchise icon walk away. 

The prevailing sentiment: let the Angels pay for his decline. We got the best of him anyway. 

Turns out that sentiment may be even truer than we thought, and we didn't have to wait four years to realize it. 

The gist of the article, written by Sam Miller, is this: Albert Pujols is not the same hitter now he has been the rest of his career

That's not exactly a shocking sentiment, necessarily; we can say that about nearly any player who is moving into the downhill phase of his career. Even if it isn't completely, empirically true, it's been said already several times about Pujols in recent months. The homerless streak he's currently riding -- 74 plate appearances so far, the longest to begin a season of his career -- certainly has given talk radio and internet bozos plenty of fodder to declare Pujols in heavy decline. 

Here's the thing, though: Miller isn't arguing Albert is a worse hitter than he used to be, exactly; rather he's arguing Pujols is a completely different hitter now than he has been for most of his career. 

The main thrust of the article is this: Albert Pujols has changed his plate approach, and rather dramatically. He no longer takes walks at anything approaching his career rate, and has begun swinging at vastly more pitches than he ever used to. 

Ah, but it's early in the season, you say, right? Small sample sizes and all that. He's just in a little bit of a funk. This is all just meaningless chatter to try and explain away why Albert is having a tough start to the season. This will pass. 

You might think that, but that's where this article is really noteworthy. Miller isn't just pulling stats from this season and drawing conclusions. The fact is, Albert's approach changed dramatically last season, or at least in the second half of last season. 

The numbers seem to skew pretty well with observations, as well. There was clearly something different about the way Pujols conducted himself last season, when he walked less and chased more pitches than ever before. There were times last year when it seemed Albert had decided the only way he was going to get to those historic numbers he had become famous for -- .300, 30, and 100 -- was to swing at virtually everything a pitcher threw his way. It was a noticeable, and very puzzling, departure. 

So far this season it's been more of the same, and while it's still early, you can't dismiss the numbers. Albert Pujols has objectively been a different hitter since the first half of 2011. Why that is is really tough to say, but what the effect is isn't nearly so difficult. 

It's a pretty outstanding article; even if you're not into the mathy side of baseball it's worth checking out. Trust me. At the very least, it will give you some new ammo the next time you're arguing with your irritating brother in law that the Cardinals didn't cheap out in letting Pujols head west. 

My Voice Nation Help
7 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Tarasturtz
Tarasturtz

Albert is a fool for leaving st Louis for MANY reasons which will only become more apparent to Phat Albert as the contract progresses. Not least among which is this fact- Albert refused the cardinals offer to instead go to LA, who offered him about 25 million more than the cardinals reportedly did. But did he stop to calculate the cost of living increase to live in/near LA Vs. The cost of living in missourri or nearby? It costs about 15 percent more to live in LA. This equates to over 37 million dollars more to live in LA for the life of the contract. Theoretically then, Albert just took LESS money to go to the AL, leave his fan base and his legacy behind. Nice move, ass clown.

crashtest
crashtest

The Cardinals were blessed with what will likely be the best years Albert had.

I don't really blame him for going to the Angels though, and it's not just money. Face it, while dollar-for-champoinship the Cardinals are the best team in baseball, you'll still be spending most of your time in St. Louis if you want to play for the Cardinals.

If I had a choice (and Albert's income) to either live in St. Louis Missourah or Los Angeles California, I'd have been west-bound in a heartbeat.

Frumpy
Frumpy

Those are great choices - The Most Dangerous City in America or The Most Dangerous City on the Left Coast.

Francis
Francis

You do have a choice. Everyone does. Don't let the door hit ya in the ass...

handsomejimmy
handsomejimmy

But it wasn't about the money, huh Albert?

Hope his elbow blows out, his hamstrings shred and his dick falls off before the all star game. 

MandoMadMan
MandoMadMan

He didn't seem like he used to swing at balls outside the strike zone. He made the pitcher throw strikes and he waited for just the one he wanted and whack, over the fence it went. This explains allot. 

Ten years-a quarter of a billion dollars? I think it will be a historically bad contract. 

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...