The Pujolian Curse
If any of you have read my blog you know my first true article was about Albert Pujols and his production leading to higher expectations. I wrote in that post that I felt Pujols would hit and get a lot closer to the Pujols we all have come to rely on.
Well, he has. But the articles about Pujols’ down season continue. If you’re an ESPN Insider, you can read one article here. If not, you can catch an article here or here.
I’m all for advanced metrics. As many of you know, I utilize them often in my posts. However, there comes a point where common sense must take over. There comes a time to put down the calculators (or abacuses for our old school friends) and take a look at what Pujols has actually done this season rather than what he did last season. His numbers last season are arbitrary. They mean nothing to the Cardinals’ season this year. They mean nothing to Pujols.
Pujols’ batting average ranks him 27th in the National League out of 73 players. Not a mind-numbingly good position, but not a horrible one either. He ranks first in home runs and 7th in RBI’s. Pujols is 10th in slugging percentage and 12th in OPS. The bottom line is this; Pujols isn’t a bottom feeder, and he’s not bringing down the Cardinals’ season.
Now, I will breakout the mathematics again and breakdown what some of these numbers actually mean. Pujols is 18 RBI’s short of the National League lead. He is 52 points short of the lead in batting average and 49 points short in slugging percentage. He is 104 points behind on OPS.
But in terms of actual production, what do those numbers mean?
With his current number of at-bats, Pujols needed 22 more hits to rank number one in batting average. That’s 22 more line drives that aren’t caught, 22 more bloops that find grass, or 22 more seeing-eye singles. There are any number of ways Pujols could have gotten those hits, but nevertheless he was 22 hits shy.
Pujols only needed 20 more total bases to be leading the N.L. in slugging percentage with his current number of at-bats. That equates to five more home runs, seven more triples, 10 more doubles, 20 more singles, or any combination in between.
The above two stats leads to OPS along with walks and hit by pitch.
It’s easy to look at the numbers, compare them to seasons past and call this season a slump for Pujols, but when we are talking about 22 more hits or 20 more total bases, there’s not much separation between the “Pujols of old” and the “Pujols of new.”
While I understand his numbers are not on pace with his career average, he is still going to maintain his consecutive streak of years with 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI’s.
Pujols might not be the best player on his team this year with Lance Berkman’s numbers, but he’s still the best player in the league. His mildly reduced performance this year is not the difference between first and second place.
Let’s give Pujols a little more time before we all jump off the “decreased productivity” bridge.