Albert Pujols was absolutely beloved by the city of St. Louis. When he would come out on deck, stretch or even take a sip of Gatorade, the crowd would go insane. If ever a city was enamored with a modern day athlete, it was St. Louis and Pujols. That made his departure from the Cardinals, and subsequent signing with the Angels, that much more surprising.
With the Cardinals, Pujols was an absolute hitting machine, leading the National League in OPS three times, home runs twice and batting average once. He was a three time MVP, and an All-Star for nine of his eleven years as a Cardinal. Although Pujols was coming off a broken wrist in 2011, his contract with the Angels seemed about as safe as a ten year contract could be.
Unfortunately, that has not proven to be the case. Albert Pujols struggled during early his first season in Los Angeles, perhaps putting too much pressure on himself to live up the the $240 Million contract that he signed. He finally righted himself, and while his 2012 season was not up to Pujols’ standards, his .285/.343/.516 batting line with 30 home runs. Those numbers were solid for virtually any other major league player, but just not up to Pujols standards. He followed that season with a disappointing .258/.330/.437 slash line, hitting only 17 home runs before being shut down for the season when the plantar fasciitis that had been bothering him since 2004 finally tore. Sadly, Pujols appeared to be starting to recover his hitting stroke before being shut down, producing a ..297/.358/.473 batting line in the month of July.
While his 2013 season was a disappointment, the injury may have been the best thing to happen to Pujols. Now, he is heading into Spring Training fully healthy for the first time in a decade. Sandwiched by the electric Mike Trout and the potentially resurgent Josh Hamilton in the lineup, Pujols may finally be ready to put together one of the seasons that the Angels had envisioned when he signed there following the 2011 season.
With question marks throughout the rotation heading into 2014, the Angels are likely going to need to rely upon their offense to help them contend. Having a healthy Albert Pujols can only help. Even if he puts up what had been an average season for him in St. Louis, a .328/.420/.617 slash line with 40 home runs, that production would go a long way towards the helping the Angels chances.
Albert Pujols may have been disappointing thus far in an Angels uniform, but he is finally healthy heading into the 2014 season. This could be the season that he provides the impact upon the lineup that he was expected to when he signed two years ago.