Albert Pujols: Does the Machine have anything left in the tank?

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 27: Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim looks on after flying out during the second inning of a game against the Colorado Rockies at Angel Stadium on August 27, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 27: Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim looks on after flying out during the second inning of a game against the Colorado Rockies at Angel Stadium on August 27, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Seven years ago when the LA Angels signed first baseman Albert Pujols to the biggest contract in club history (10 years $240 million) the Angels had high hopes of making a few World Series trips.

You cant always judge a book by its cover is an old adage that holds true for LA Angels Albert Pujols.  The signing of Pujols made sense on paper, but unfortunately it has not been the same on the field in the way of production.  Pujols has had some decent years for the Angels over the first seven years of his contract.  However, decent years is not what the Angels paid for.

In seven seasons with the Angels Pujols has hit 188 homers and driven in 653 runs while batting .260 with a .315 OBP.  His yearly averages is 24 homers with 95 RBIs.  For most players that would be pretty good production however if you compare what Pujols did in St. Louis for the Cardinals you will see my point. In 11 seasons with St. Louis Pujols hit 445 homers with 1329 RBIs hitting .328 with an OBP of .420.  His average numbers per season was 40 HR’s with 111 RBIs.  You see the big drop off.

Albert Pujols is a hard worker and is great guy to have in the clubhouse as he is a veteran leader. In addition Angel fans have been the beneficiary of seeing Albert reach some major milestones while wearing an Angel jersey.  Pujols reached the 500 and 600 home run club in Angel red as well as reaching the 3,000 hit plateau earlier this season as well.  All these moments were big thrills to be a part of, but it still doesn’t make up for the drop-off in production that has occured with Pujols.

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The worst thing is that we have Pujols under contract for three more years and you can’t expect his numbers to improve drastically over those three seasons if he can even play for three more years.  The Angels need to really examine if it is worth keeping Albert around for three more seasons.  I personally like Albert Pujols as a person and I think he is a good influence on younger guys in the organization, however the Angels need to stop catering to his feelings and do what is best for the team.

Next season Pujols should be dropped out of the clean-up spot and into the sixth spot in the line-up first through fifth in the line-up should be Andrelton Simmons, Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Justin Upton, Kole Calhoun in whatever order the new manager sees fit.  Then pencil #5 in the 6th slot, maybe the 5th spot on occasion or when their is a tough lefty on the mound.

From there round it out with whatever catcher the Angels decide to use or acquire and Zack Cozart and either Taylor Ward or David Fletcher.  You could even swap Fletcher and Calhoun in the top five if Fletcher can prove to be a strong OBP guy.  This would improve the line-up immensely and give the Angels a chance to score more runs and have the right guys up when the table is set.

This season Pujols hit 19 homers with 64 RBIs and batted 245 with a .285 OBP before missing the final six weeks of the season.  His defense was still above average especially for his age, but it was still another disappointing season for Pujols. In the next three years if Pujols stays healthy and somewhat productive we could see more history as he is only 67 HRs away from 700 which with his yearly averages with the Angels he will achieve in his final season of the 10-year contract.

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This would be a cool feat to see someone achieve.  If you stretch it out even more if Albert could hit an average of 27 homers per season in the next three years he could pass Babe Ruth’s mark of 714 homers which would again be an amazing feat to see someone accomplish.  However, is it worth all the downside in Pujols lack of production overall, I’m not sure that it is.  If this most recent surgery can give Pujols a little more life and some increased production over the next couple of seasons then and only then is it worth keeping #5 around to finish out his contract.

2018 Season Grade – D+ –

Some people may think that grade Albert Pujols’ season as low as a D+ might be harsh, but he was one of the many reasons the Angels underachieved this season in spite of increased weapons in the line-up.  Keeping Pujols in the fourth spot most of the season was not one of Mike Scioscia’s better decisions , but we all know #14 was loyal to his veterans to a fault which may have been one of the biggest reason that led to his demise in Anaheim in recent years.

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This is a hard article for me to write as I admire Albert Pujols greatly as a player and a person, but you have to judge this book by its cover because it doesn’t change much when you look past the cover either. The Angels may need to soon turn the page on the Albert Pujols era unless they want to stay mired in mediocrity for three more seasons.