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How Albert Pujols went from a nostalgia signing to one of many hottest hitters in MLB


It’s completely okay for all of us to confess that when the St. Louis Cardinals signed Albert Pujols for his remaining season in Main League Baseball, we didn’t assume a lot of it previous this being a quaint little swan tune for a man that was going to waltz into the Baseball Corridor of Fame with little-to-no issues in any respect. There wasn’t actually a lot cause to imagine that Pujols was going to do far more than put some smiles on the faces of longtime Cardinals followers who obtained to see certainly one of their dwelling legends placed on the enduring redbird uniform for another go round whereas probably hitting a couple of dingers alongside the way in which.

It’s nice to exit like that! In an period the place fading star athletes are more and more receiving their flowers after they can odor them as gamers, it made all of the sense on this planet that one of many best hitters of his technology was going to get a correct send-off taking part in within the metropolis the place he turned a star. With that being stated, it positively didn’t look like a aggressive transfer from St. Louis — not when Pujols went into this season on the heels of 5 straight seasons the place he completed within the damaging in FanGraphs WAR whereas placing up anemic hitting numbers for his requirements.

I can’t repeat sufficient simply how a lot this was purely a nostalgia signing for the Cardinals. When you don’t imagine me then simply hearken to Cardinals followers, themselves!

In an ideal world, I fully perceive signing Pujols. And could be very on board with that good world. Pujols finally ends up hitting pretty properly towards LHP, he will get to retire with two different Cardinal legends, and it’ll simply make for a really memorable final season for him that we get to expertise as followers. That every one sounds nice.

Alternatively, there’s actually no questioning that he’s actually not a superb baseball participant anymore. And the overwhelming odds are that it will likely be straight up miserable to look at him play baseball by the top. And talking personally, his type of offense is probably my least favourite, the man who by no means walks and is overaggressive, and who will certainly get thrown out if a ball a lot as touches an infielder. I beloved watching the outdated Pujols bat, however that’s not what we’d be getting.

As the ultimate month of the season is now proper across the nook, this looks as if a superb time to examine in and see how Albert Pujols’ remaining go-around goes in St. Louis. I can’t say that I’m anticipating a lot however hey, it’ll be cool to see Pujols sporting that Cardinal uniform for outdated time’s sake, proper?

Properly then! Seems to be like he had a fairly good day. Even guys who’re over the hill can have a superb day every so often, in order that’s not an enormous shock. Certainly he’s not holding that up, proper? Proper?

No method. That’s not Tío Albert from his days as a Dodger — that appears just like the Albert Pujols that used to terrorize the Nationwide League throughout his prime. That is completely loopy, however absolutely he’s calmed down slightly bit after that, proper? Please inform me that he’s calmed down.

Okay, that is really occurring. Going into play on Tuesday night time, Albert Pujols was placing up a slash line of .277/.351/.530 with 14 dwelling runs, a .375 wOBA, .252 Remoted Energy and a incredible wRC+ of 146. For comparability’s sake, Pujols’ highest wRC+ since 2017 was 90, which remains to be 10 factors beneath the annual league common wRC+ of 100. He went into the doubleheader on Tuesday sitting on 1.1 fWAR for the season, which is already the perfect season he’s had since 2015 and he might very properly end with a season that’s considerably much like his age-34 season again in 2014. Albert Pujols has in some way turned the clock again and is taking part in a decent-sized function for a Cardinals workforce that’s flying excessive in first place atop the NL Central.

So what on this planet is occurring right here? Has Albert Pujols defeated Father Time? Is he merely emptying the tank since he is aware of that that is his remaining stretch of baseball? Are the opposing pitchers simply taking him evenly? Properly, the reply is definitely fairly easy: He is perhaps 42-years-old, however he can nonetheless completely mash left-handed pitching. It additionally helps that Pujols was capable of stick round lengthy sufficient for the Common DH to lastly turn out to be a factor in MLB. As an alternative of getting to search out someplace on the diamond to stay him, the Cardinals can merely deploy Pujols as their DH every time there’s a lefty on the market and let him sit for many right-handers.

Once more, it’s a fairly easy technique however it’s one which has labored like a allure for the Cardinals. Granted, this technique additionally labored for the Dodgers throughout his transient stint at Chavez Ravine, however 2021 Pujols didn’t wherever come near what we’ve seen from him right here in 2022. This latest stretch specifically has been about nearly as good as something we’ve seen from Albert Pujols, ever. By means of the primary 22 days of August, Pujols hit at a .472/.525/1.083 clip. He’s slugged seven dingers this month, with these seven homers being a part of 17 hits throughout that 22-day span.

He’s had 40 plate appearances throughout that span and his scarcely-believable 341 wRC+ is the perfect in all of baseball for hitters with at the least 40 PAs because the begin of August — 102 factors forward of his MVP candidate teammate, Paul Goldschmidt. No person is hotter than Albert Pujols proper now, which is a wild assertion to be making as a reality in 2022.

The large query now could be a fairly enjoyable query that truthfully didn’t appear too possible heading into the season: Can Albert Pujols attain 700 dwelling runs? After this unbelievable return to kind on the plate for the long run Cooperstown member, that is now a legit query. Sadly, it nonetheless doesn’t appear super-likely that Pujols can rack up one other seven dingers between now and the top of the season. In any case, this superb stretch of hitting that at present has the baseball world buzzing has solely seen him hit seven homers over that span. Until Pujols can maintain this scalding-hot tempo going all the way in which to the primary week of October, he’s doubtless going to come back up brief. I’d think about that he’ll come fairly shut however I’m not holding my breath for Pujols to hit the milestone dinger this season.

Even when he doesn’t do it, that is a completely unbelievable be aware for Albert Pujols to finish on. This has been something however a nostalgia run for the legendary Cardinals slugger — he’s been taking part in an essential function on a workforce that shall be trying to make some noise in October. It’s fairly unusual to see stars exit on a excessive be aware like this and Albert Pujols is at present on a run that completely must be appreciated. Like a capturing star within the night time sky, it’s not every single day the place you see a 42-year-old massive leaguer tearing it up like this, so that is positively one thing to be aware of for nevertheless lengthy that is going to final.




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