LA Angels News

LA Angels: Is Albert Pujols Finally Going to Contribute?

By Vincent Page
TEMPE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 19: Albert Pujols #5 poses for a portrait during Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim photo day on February 19, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
TEMPE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 19: Albert Pujols #5 poses for a portrait during Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim photo day on February 19, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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Look, I know we as LA Angels fans do this every year. One way or another, we find ourselves dwelling on the idea of a possible Albert Pujols “resurgence” and year after year we are disappointed, but hear me out.

LA Angels fans, this could be the year. This could really be the one. Albert Pujols is going to have a good year. I’m speaking (writing) it into existence. I am so confident in Pujols have a good year in 2019 that I would bet… absolutely nothing on it.

My lack of confidence aside, Pujols is having himself a solid Spring Training. He had two surgeries over the offseason, undergoing a procedure on his knee that ended his year while also having bone spurs removed in September. Nonetheless, he is putting on a clinic down in Tempe.

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In 19 at-bats, Pujols is slashing .474/.545/.694 for the Angels, proving to us all that he can in fact swing a bat. Only two hits have gone for extra bases, a double and a home run, but Pujols has been making good contact every time he steps up to the plate.

Usually at the beginning of Spring Training we get a quote from The Machine telling us he’s in the best shape of his life, has dropped weight, or something of the sort. This year things were relatively quiet as the best right-handed hitter of all time (yeah I said it) showed up in Tempe. The only reports were regarding his Opening Day status, which is looking good so far.

But none of these Spring Training stats matter unless Pujols can carry it into the regular season. And truth be told Angels fans, I think he can.

Last year, Pujols had to play first base 70 times, his highest total since 2014. Obviously you don’t want someone as injury prone as Pujols manning first that often, and 2019 should prove different for him.

To start the year, Pujols will likely be the everyday designated hitter until Shohei Ohtani returns. Justin Bour will likely be playing first base in that period as well. Once Ohtani returns, things will get interesting as all three players are restricted to 1B/DH.

Obviously, Ohtani will be in the lineup everyday except for the occasional day off and if his rehab towards pitching in 2020 interferes with the game. The Angels are intent on having him ready for 2020 as a pitcher, and have stated that his rehab will take priority.

So when Ohtani doesn’t play, Pujols naturally slides into the DH role. When Ohtani is in the lineup though, there will be some sort of platoon between Pujols and Bour. It could be a natural lefty-righty platoon considering Bour absolutely mashed against right-handed pitching, but that is yet to be determined.

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The reason for optimism with Pujols this season comes directly from the fact that he won’t be playing first base nearly as much, keeping him well rested. If Pujols can start the season hot at the plate and carry that momentum once Ohtani comes back, the top of the Angels’ lineup becomes very, very scary.

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