What Can We Expect From Albert Pujols?

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Updated: February 5, 2017

While it’s certainly true that there’s no way Albert Pujols could live up to such a huge contract as the one he signed with the Angels, to say he’s a disappointment ignores just how much he’s actually contributed. At this point in his career, though, he is what he is: a one dimension slugger, a pure pull hitter.

He’s very good at that one thing, however, and if you ignore how slow and immobile he is and how his batting average and on-base percentages have plummeted since signing with the Angels, he’s still been a valuable player, hitting thirty or more home runs three of the five years he’s been with the Halos.

So what can we realistically expect from Albert this season? Last year he slashed .268/.323/.457, which was actually a slight improvement over the year before, for the most part, but still represents a hitter declining in those departments.

Pujols also had off-season foot surgery, which is expected to keep him on the DL at the beginning of the year. It’s obvious that Pujols should no longer be playing the field, and he probably needs more time off throughout the year to keep him fresh. It’s possible the time off at the beginning of the year may end up paying dividends later in the year, although you could make the argument that the lack of a real offseason and Spring Training will adversely affect Pujols, causing a slow start or worse.

All these things considered, I think the expectations for Pujols should begin to be lowered significantly; the lingering foot issues are concerning, and the continued loss of speed and mobility are going to further hinder Pujols. While Pujols can still square up a ball as well as anyone, it’s obvious that he’s losing some bat speed and his selectivity is suffering as his walk rate has plummeted and his strikeouts have begun to climb, albeit slowly. A slash line around .250/.320/.450, along with twenty to twenty-five home runs is a reasonable expectation; a continued decline for a hitter expected to miss some time.

Those numbers still carry value for a team, just not at the cap hit Pujols carries. There’s nothing anyone can do about that, at this point; he’s signed to the contract he’s signed, and his contributions need to be evaluated in a vacuum. Regardless of what he’s being paid, the Angels need him to be close to the slugger he’s been.

However, it’s time to start lowering expectations for Pujols, and the Angels offense will need more than just Trout and Albert. They’ll need someone else, like C.J. Cron, to step up and be that threat in the middle.  If those numbers add up to make Pujols the second best hitter on the team in support of Mike Trout, the Angels will be in trouble.

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