The LA Angels designated hitter Albert Pujols A.K.A. “The Machine” has broken down several times during his five seasons in Anaheim. Pujols had off-season foot surgery this winter to help relieve the pain that his plantar fasciitis was causing him late in the season.
Albert Pujols is not the same player he once was, but he has still been very effective hitting over 30 homers in all but one season with the Angels. Last year Pujols drove in 119 runs while hitting .268 and smacking 31 home runs. The 119 RBI’s were the most of any of Pujols’ five seasons in Anaheim. It was also the third time Pujols hit at least 30 home runs for the Angels in five seasons.
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Pujols is closing in on some big milestones, 600 home runs and 3,000 hits both are within reach for Pujols to surpass during the 2017 season. Pujols is at 591 home runs which means he will only need to hit nine this season to join the 600 HR’s club. A slightly more lofty feat for Pujols is 3,000 hits as he sits at 2,825 to start the season. This means Pujols would need 175 hits in 2017 to reach the 3,000 hit club. The last time Pujols had more than 175 hits was in 2010 for the St. Louis Cardinals when he had 183 hits.
Even if Pujols does not reach 3,000 hits in 2017, he will almost assuredly reach that milestone in 2018. So the first question we can ask is how soon we will see Albert Pujols on the roster. When he had his foot surgery on December 2nd it was aid that he will be out up to four months.
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If you do the math that means he would return the beginning of April which right when the 2017 season begins. This is barring any setbacks, which at age 37, Pujols could have some issues. So let’s take a conservative approach and say Pujols misses the first month of the season which means he will miss about 20-25 games.
With that being said his projection will be slightly lower then what Pujols finished last year. I feel Pujols will hit 27 homers and drive in 95 runs while batting .272. Pujols will continue to raise his average as he jumped 24 points last season compared to 2015.
The line-up around Pujols has gotten considerably stronger with the addition of Cameron Maybin as a possible lead-off hitter and also the addition of Danny Espinosa at second base. A healthy C.J. Cron will also help Pujols cause hitting behind him. Kole Calhoun could also see some time in the fifth spot which could also help.
If Pujols could come back strong and produce anything close to his 2016 numbers it will go a long way to helping the Angels get back into playoff contention. Let’s hope a retooled “Machine” equates to improved power and batting average.