|Pujols Adjusting to Los Angeles||| Print ||
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on June 19, 2012
Albert Pujols was supposed to be the king of Los Angeles upon signing a 10-year, $240-million contract with the Angels. Though he got off to an incredibly slow start, Pujols has regained his stroke, just in time for the Angels to make some serious noise out west.
This offseason, the Angels instantly became the team to beat in the AL with the signing of Pujols, even though their division rival Texas Rangers had appeared in back-to-back World Series.
In a lineup that also included Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, Howie Kendrick and a healthy Kendrys Morales, Pujols was expected to put up monster numbers, continuing his reign as the game’s best hitter.
Whether it was the change of scenery from St. Louis or the pressure to live up to the lucrative contract, Pujols was ice cold to start the season. The negative media attention surrounding Pujols rubbed off on the team, as the Angels started the year 13-17, which put them in last place in the AL West (6.5 games out of first) on May 7.
Photo by todonitido, used under creative commons license.
Pujols connected on his first home run as an Angel that day. The burden was lifted off his back, and he just appeared more comfortable altogether.
Since then, Pujols has clubbed nine home runs in a little over a month. He even went through a stretch in early June in which he recorded seven straight multi-hit games. The Angels have closed the gap in the AL West to four games behind the Texas Rangers.
The Angels, of course, will need Pujols to be a force in the middle of the order if they plan on earning a playoff spot. Granted, baseball is a team game, but when a guy like Pujols is hot, it feeds off on the whole team.
Looking at Pujols’ monthly splits, a hugely productive summer could be right around the corner. Pujols hit .217 with a .265 on-base percentage in April, but by that improved to a .263 May average and a .309 on-base percentage.
These numbers still aren’t very Pujols-like, but the first two weeks of June saw Pujols return to form. He’s hitting .304 this month with .373 on-base percentage.
There is always a spotlight on a player who signs a mega-contract, especially one who has been so productive for so long. To think that Pujols would have immediate success in the AL after a decade in the NL was wishful thinking.
When the season’s over, it’s a safe bet to say that Pujols will hit around .290, hit 25-30 home runs and drive in close to 100 runs. Though putting up numbers is important, clutch hitting and driving in runs has been a Pujols specialty since he came into the league.
Pujols likely won’t play in this summer’s All-Star Game, and he likely won’t receive many MVP votes this fall. However, he’s more focused on just being productive for his team as they attempt to make a playoff push.