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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 ultimate season in Main League Baseball, we didn’t suppose a lot of it previous this being a quaint little swan track 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 motive to imagine that Pujols was going to do rather more than put some smiles on the faces of longtime Cardinals followers who acquired to see one in all their dwelling legends placed on the long-lasting redbird uniform for another go round whereas probably hitting just a few dingers alongside the way in which.

It’s tremendous to exit like that! In an period the place fading star athletes are more and more receiving their flowers once they can scent them as gamers, it made all of the sense on the planet that one of many best hitters of his era was going to get a correct send-off taking part in within the metropolis the place he turned a star. With that being mentioned, it positively didn’t appear to be 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 unfavorable 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. In the event you don’t imagine me then simply hearken to Cardinals followers, themselves!

In an ideal world, I fully perceive signing Pujols. And can be very on board with that good world. Pujols finally ends up hitting pretty effectively in opposition to 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 each one sounds nice.

Alternatively, there’s actually no questioning that he’s actually not a great 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 model 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 I liked watching the outdated Pujols bat, however that’s not what we’d be getting.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 great time to verify in and see how Albert Pujols’ ultimate 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 carrying that Cardinal uniform for outdated time’s sake, proper?

Effectively then! Seems like he had a reasonably good day. Even guys who’re over the hill can have a great day from time to time, in order that’s not an enormous shock. Certainly he’s not conserving that up, proper? Proper?

No approach. 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 certainly he’s calmed down a bit bit after that, proper? Please inform me that he’s calmed down.

Okay, that is truly occurring. Going into play on Tuesday evening, Albert Pujols was placing up a slash line of .277/.351/.530 with 14 dwelling runs, a .375 wOBA, .252 Remoted Energy and a unbelievable wRC+ of 146. For comparability’s sake, Pujols’ highest wRC+ since 2017 was 90, which continues to be 10 factors under 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 very best season he’s had since 2015 and he may very effectively end with a season that’s considerably much like his age-34 season again in 2014. Albert Pujols has by some means turned the clock again and is taking part in a decent-sized function for a Cardinals group that’s flying excessive in first place atop the NL Central.

So what on the 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 ultimate stretch of baseball? Are the opposing pitchers simply taking him flippantly? Effectively, the reply is definitely fairly easy: He could be 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 into 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 reasonably easy technique nevertheless it’s one which has labored like a allure for the Cardinals. Granted, this technique additionally labored for the Dodgers throughout his temporary stint at Chavez Ravine, however 2021 Pujols didn’t wherever come near what we’ve seen from him right here in 2022. This current 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 very best in all of baseball for hitters with at the least 40 PAs for the reason that 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 reasonably enjoyable query that actually didn’t appear too possible heading into the season: Can Albert Pujols attain 700 dwelling runs? After this unimaginable return to type 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 presently has the baseball world buzzing has solely seen him hit seven homers over that span. Until Pujols can hold this scalding-hot tempo going all the way in which to the primary week of October, he’s possible going to come back up quick. 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 unimaginable observe 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 group that might be trying to make some noise in October. It’s fairly unusual to see stars exit on a excessive observe like this and Albert Pujols is presently on a run that completely needs to be appreciated. Like a capturing star within the evening sky, it’s not every single day the place you see a 42-year-old huge leaguer tearing it up like this, so that is positively one thing to be aware of for nonetheless lengthy that is going to final.

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