Improved health may be the key for Albert Pujols this season

By David Hill

Jul 6, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Albert Pujols (5) singles to score two runs against the Boston Red Sox during the ninth inning at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

There is nothing wrong with a little competition. Even amongst teammates, having another player that is producing at a high level can potentially have a carryover affect, with other players attempting to increase their performance to match that one player. Just do not suggest to Albert Pujols that Mike Trout‘s performance is going to have an impact on how he plays this year.

Pujols, who is coming off a disappointing and injury plagued 2013, laughed at the concept that Trout’s performance had an impact on his motivation for 2014.

"“I don’t need to compare with anybody, buddy,” Pujols said Sunday. “Just look at my numbers. My job is to stay healthy and go out there and play. I don’t need anybody to motivate me to play this game.”"

You know what? Albert Pujols is absolutely correct in saying that his numbers speak for themselves. He was an All-Star for 10 of his 11 years in St. Louis, a three time MVP and a six time Silver Slugger. In his career, he has posted a .321/.410/.599 batting line with 492 home runs. He is the active leader in slugging percentage and OPS. Based on his career performance, it would seemingly be more of a matter of Pujols staying healthy instead of needing to engage in a competition with Trout. As a matter of fact, Pujols himself feels that all he needs to do is stay healthy.

"“I want to stay healthy and play every day,” he said. “The numbers are going to be there at the end, because I know how to hit.”"

The biggest question is whether or not Pujols can stay healthy. At age 34 and coming off a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot, it is fair to wonder if Father Time is catching up to the hitting machine known as Albert Pujols. However, this year, he plans on taking steps to avoid breaking down. He has stated that he would be more willing to play as the Angels designated hitter on occasion and take a day off entirely if needed, instead of trying to play every day as he did in the past.

Perhaps this is the change that Pujols needs to make as he gets older. Even someone like Pujols, who has a seemingly supernatural ability to hit, is susceptible to the ravages of time. Just by taking a few days off during the season, Pujols may be more productive.

If he is healthy, the numbers should be there for Albert Pujols. Right now, it seems as though he is taking that step towards ensuring that he will be.