Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Expectations Rising for Pujols and Angels


192------------------------------------------------------2008 - Career High (OPS+) - NL MVP
189--------------------------------------------------------------2009 - Career High (OBP) - NL MVP
187-----------------2003 - Career Highs (BA/R)
178---------------------------------------2006 - Career Highs (HR/RBI/SLG)
168-------------------------------2005 - NL MVP
157----2001 - NL ROY-----------------------2007 - Career Lows (R/HR)
147----------------------------------------------------------------------------2011 - Career Lows - Continued  -(BA/OBP/SLG/RBI/OPS+) Career High - (GIDP)

The chart above tracks Albert Pujols' OPS+ over the first eleven years of his career (2001 - 2011) - the ups and downs.  It also notes any career highs and lows established in any particular season, along with the awards (ROY - 3 MVP) he garnered during his St Louis years.  After his career year in 2008 (based on OPS+), each subsequent year reflects a gradual erosion in production (based on declining OPS+), culminating with five new offensive career lows in 2011 (actually, six; since leading the NL in grounding into double plays while setting a career high is a dubious distinction).

Here's another format that summarizes in greater detail the same information as above:
 YR   OPS+
2001 - 157 - NL ROY
2002 - 151
2003 - 187 - Career Highs (137 R/.359 BA)
2004 - 173
2005 - 168 - NL MVP
2006 - 178 - Career Highs (49 HR/137 RBI/.671 SLG)
2007 - 157 - Career Lows (99 R/32 HR)
2008 - 192 - Career High (OPS+) - NL MVP
2009 - 189 - Career High (.443 OBP) - NL MVP
2010 - 173
2011 - 147 - Career Lows (OPS+/99 RBI/.299 BA/.366 OBP/.541 SLG) - Career High (29 GIDP)

In 2011, Pujols got off to the worst start of his career (at the time); and by the end of May (56 games), was only hitting .267 - with nine home runs and thirty-one runs batted in.  That only put him on a 26 HR/90 RBI pace, but he finished strong - not only raising his batting average 32 points, but also hit 37 HR with 99 RBI.  Still, it was his worst season, from a statistical standpoint.

For Cardinals fans, however, 2011 may have represented Albert Pujols' most heroic season; overcoming the distractions of his pending free agency; overcoming an uncharacteristically slow start; and just when he was starting to get hot at the plate, suffered a broken bone in his hand after being hit by a pitch, which was supposed to sideline him for a month.  Instead, he came back in half that time, and soon started hitting like the Albert Pujols of old; rallying his team to perform late season magic and postseason impossibility.

The only other season that ranked as high on the "heroism meter" was 2006 - his fourth best on the metrics scale, behind '08, '09, and '03; however, none of those teams won a single postseason game.  Pujols had little help from his teammates in 2006; carrying the Cardinals to a division title with more clutch home runs than imaginable; finally, getting some help in the postseason, culminating in that stunning five-game World Series upset over the Detroit Tigers - the American League's wild card champion.

This season, Pujols had a terrible month of April; by far the worst of his career.  However, he's had a strong May, which puts him very close to his production from one year ago; except the batting average, which is still only hovering around .240.  He's going to have his work cut out for him if he hopes to even match last year's sub-par totals.

While his recent power surge has been cause for celebration in Halo Nation, especially since the team has put together a nice winning streak (8 games heading into Wednesday); the reality is, his overall production is still below average (sub-100 OPS+); especially by his lofty own standards.  While he's definitely heading in the right direction, it's a bit early to jump on the "I told you so" bandwagon; especially by various members of the mainstream media who have smugly scoffed at the possibility that the 32-year old Pujols may have lost some of his batting skills; despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Perhaps he's still got enough left in the tank to help his new team catch the Rangers in the AL West race.  I'm sure that would be good enough to keep the Angels organization happy; especially the way things looked just a couple of weeks ago.

No comments:

Post a Comment