Albert Pujols was once the best player in baseball only seven or eight years ago. He was a perennial All-Star and could both hit and field with the best of them. However, foot and other injuries have hindered Albert over the past 5 to 6 seasons & he has not been the same since.
This year Albert Pujols is in the best shape coming into Spring Training in four to five years, and he will have to be because the Angels are hoping he will be able to play in the field at least 50-60 games at first base. Pujols has reportedly lost 10-15 pounds and is having no issues with his surgically repaired foot.
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Will Pujols come back and be like “The Machine” of old, probably not, but hopefully he can drastically improve on his career worst year of 2017 when he hit only .241 with 23 homers and drove in 101 runs. Pujols had a career-low on base percentage of .296 and slugging percentage of .386. He also struck out a career-high 93 times and walked only 37 times.
So honestly he can go nowhere but up from here (hopefully). The Angels could really use a rejuvenated Pujols in the middle of the line-up especially with the addition of Zack Cozart and Ian Kinsler into the line-up as well as a full year of Justin Upton. Then there is thee Shohei Ohtani factor which is the main reason the Angels want Pujols to play in the field so much.
Ohtani is going to DH probably at least 80-90 games this season which is why Pujols will need to play the field in some of those games. The fact that Pujols is 37 though could definitely effect how much he can do so. The increased production in the line-up should ease the pressure on Pujols which may also led him to have a much better season.
Albert Pujols is a very proud individual and will always push himself to the limit that his body will let him. It will be nice to see a well-oiled machine (pun intended) in 2018. Maybe this will finally be the year the Angels put it all together. One can only hope.