Have We Seen The Last Of A Dominant Albert Pujols?

by Clayton Richer | Posted on Sunday, June 2nd, 2013
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Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols is a three-time MVP, a future first ballot Hall of Famer and one of the greatest right-handed hitters of all time. He led the St. Louis Cardinals to two World Series, and has since moved on to the American League to anchor the Angels’ offense. However, after a subpar season in 2012 (by his standards) and an even worse 2013, Pujols simply just does not look the same. Is this simply a slump caused by nagging injuries, or have we seen the end of dominant Pujols?

It is hard to criticize a man who went .285/.343/.516 with 30 home runs and 105 RBI a season ago, but it took a hot second half of the season, which endeared him more to daily fantasy sports fans than to those who held on to him in season long leagues, to make those numbers look respectable. To help illustrate just how good he has been from the beginning, last season was the only time the first baseman finished outside the top 10 in MVP voting. Now in his age 33 season (or maybe later, depending on if you believe those rumors that have surrounded him for years), what fans are seeing is a faster decline in talent.

During the steroid era, guys well into their 30s were getting huge contracts, and they were playing as well as ever. Staying healthy is a key component in baseball, and even a guy playing a relatively low-stress position can be susceptible to injuries.

He has avoided sitting out of too many games in Los Angeles, but something is still obviously not completely right with Pujols. His bat has been sluggish, he already has three errors at first base and he is striking out more and more often.

To make matters worse for Los Angles fans, he is signed through 2021 at a huge price tag. If Mr. Consistency can break down this early in his career and lack major productivity, this could change the landscape of deals in the future. Pujols still has more than half a season to get hot again and put up great season numbers. However, we may have seen the last of Pujols, the MVP candidate and Gold Glover.

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Clayton Richer
About the Author

Clayton Richer is an MLB scribe from north of the border with a slight bias for the Toronto Blue Jays. Clayton has also been the shop-keeper at Baseball Hot Corner since the sites inception in 2012. Follow and interact with Clayton on Twitter @MLBHotCorner or @ClaytonRicher

  • Steve

    I don’t believe we are seeing a quick decline in Albert’s skills. Although common sense dictates that baseball players skills decline with age. There is something not right with Albert. We all know about the foot and the knee. But Pujols had the plantar issue with the Cards and other nagging physical problems. I played the game at a high level in college until injuries ended my dream of making “The Show.” With that said I know what it’s like to play with injuries. Pujols is hurting a lot more than anyone knows. The telling sign to me is that Albert has played around with his batting stance. He has done this to lower his pain threshold not because of a hitting issue. This is hurting(no pun intended) his hitting. And his mental approach is greatly affected. When Albert was with the Cardinals after every failed at bat he would ask the best cardinal pitchers how the pitcher beat him that at bat and he would ask the hitting coach what he did wrong. Pujols would often get to the batting cages if he was in a little hitting slump during the inning(located behind the dugout). Tony LaRussa said that Pujols was the best student of the “game” that he’s ever coached. Pujols was constantly working on both his hitting,fielding,base running, etc. These are things that Pujols can’t do at this time because of his injuries. It’s sad to see arguably the best player in baseball struggling because of physical issues, especially after the big contract and the enormous expectations. The solution I think is a trip to perhaps the 60 day disabled list. But I doubt Albert will agree to even a 15 day stint to the DL. I’m praying for the guy.

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