Albert Pujols has been with the LA Angels for seven seasons now and has had some level of success each year producing four 100 RBI seasons & three 30 home run seasons, but his role may be diminishing.
When Albert Pujols came to Anaheim to play for the LA Angels in 2012 there were great expectations that came with him. The Angels seemed to be on the verge of being a team worthy of challenging for a World Series title and signing the then best player in baseball to a 10-year contract worth $240 million dollars the Angels seemed poised to win the World Series a couple of times during Pujols’ tenure in Anaheim.
Unfortunately that has not been the case. Pujols has been in decline ever since he arrived in Anaheim. His batting average has dropped from .328 to .302 in those seven seasons since leaving St. Louis. Pujols averaged 40 home runs a season in St. Louis and that number has dropped to 27 per season in Anaheim. His RBIs have also dropped off significantly from 121 per season in St. Louis to only 93 per season in Anaheim.
The Angels have never even made it to a World Series while Pujols has been in Anaheim, in fact they have never even won a single playoff game only qualifying for the post-season once in the last seven seasons. Not only that, but Albert has battled injuries in four of the seven seasons in Anaheim he has had some type of surgery to help alleviate pain he was fighting through during the previous season.
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Albert Pujols’ work ethic or toughness should never be questioned and he has been an outstanding presence in the clubhouse especially for the younger players, but his drop-off in production has been more and more of a liability each passing season.
Going into the 2019 season Albert will again be coming off surgery that cut his 2018 year short. The question that keeps getting louder is how much does Pujols have left in the tank. This season the question also becomes how much of a role he will play.
In the off-season the Angels acquired a left-handed hitting first baseman with an upside in Justin Bour. With Shohei Ohtani expected to be a full-time DH playing most every day once he returns from Tommy John Surgery, will Bour and Pujols be left in a platoon situation at first base once Ohtani returns from the DL?
Will Pujols get the opportunity to be in the line-up for at least 100 games this season? How will Albert react to this diminished role if it does happen? Is this a blessing in disguise for Pujols as he will be able to stay fresher with more off days. These are all questions Angels first-year manager Brad Ausmus will have to answer once Ohtani is healthy.
Albert Pujols has three years left on his 10-year contract and it will be surprising if Pujols will be happy with a potentially diminished role for three consecutive seasons. Pujols has a chance to join some elite company if he can keep moving up the ladder on the home run and RBI all-time list.
Albert Pujols is definitely not a selfish player and individually accomplishments while nice to him are not his number one priority. However, Pujols does have a lot of pride as do many great players. Will that pride cause him to be frustrated in a diminished role especially if he is not producing up to his standards and/or the team is not achieving success on the field.
This will be an interesting sidebar to watch this season. In a perfect world Pujols will have a bounce back season and Bour, Ohtani, and Pujols will find a way ti be a three-headed monster that will help lead the Angels back to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. For all involved this would be the best case scenario for all involved.