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Monday, February 24, 2014

Angels’ Albert Pujols prepared to ‘shut a lot of mouths’ this season

Albert productions: The basics.

As a three-time MVP, a .321 career hitter with 492 home runs and a certain Hall of Famer when he retires, Albert Pujols has no need to listen to critics, especially those ripping on his huge contract.

Oh, but how he would love to silence them.

Pujols, who is trying to bounce back from the two worst seasons of his career, said he avoids reading stories about himself and doesn’t have time to indulge those who say he’s an old 34 and will never reach his previous heights again.

There’s a perception that such doubts fuel Pujols’ drive, which he denies, but he does say, “I’m still in my prime. If I’m healthy, I’m going to show that on the field and shut a lot of mouths.’‘

...The OPS figure was especially troubling, because it was the fifth year in a row it dwindled. While with the Cardinals, Pujols thrice led the National League in OPS with numbers above 1.100.

“I know because of injuries I haven’t been the same player the last two years, but what I’ve been able to do, I’ve done on one leg and coming off surgery,’’ Pujols said. “If I feel 100%, I have no doubt I can reach the goals I’ve always had.’‘

He certainly looks ready for the task. Pujols came into camp seven pounds lighter, and his legs are stronger after being able to implement his usual workout regimen in the offseason without concern for the knee.

Repoz Posted: February 24, 2014 at 06:58 AM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: angels

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   1. shoewizard Posted: February 24, 2014 at 07:51 AM (#4661320)
He's an old 34 and will never reach his previous heights again.

   2. OPS+ Posted: February 24, 2014 at 08:27 AM (#4661325)
He's an old 34 and will never reach his previous heights again.


That statement right there probably just added 5 points onto this season's OPS.
   3. shoewizard Posted: February 24, 2014 at 09:41 AM (#4661350)
So he might close back in on .800 ?
   4. Esoteric Posted: February 24, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4661393)
He's an old 36 or 37, which is even worse than being an old 34.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4661395)
He's an old 36 or 37, which is even worse than being an old 34.

Well, the last 2 years have certainly done nothing to reduce the plausibility of that rumor.
   6. puck Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:04 PM (#4661404)
He'll reach his previous heights, then get accused of using steroids.
   7. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:09 PM (#4661409)
I'm sure he's approaching the season with blessed assurance from his lord & savior.
   8. Squash Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:14 PM (#4661414)
This is probably good for Albert. He played much better in St. Louis when he was always enraged about something.
   9. Rants Mulliniks Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:32 PM (#4661432)
His MVP days are certainly behind him, but if he can stay healthy I'd expect .300/.375/.525 from him as a best case scenario. I didn't realize he was this close to 500 homers, but not like that means anything anymore.
   10. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:37 PM (#4661437)
I'm with Shoebo. I just don't see it and I'm an Angel fan. I do think he could OPS something like .900 if he's healthy for the first time in a while. A .290/.360/.540 is POSSIBLE, but not likely, IMO....

[Edit] - I was thinking about the numbers I was going to post for about 7 minutes and during that time Rance was thinking similar things....
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:56 PM (#4661451)
I'm with Shoebo. I just don't see it and I'm an Angel fan. I do think he could OPS something like .900 if he's healthy for the first time in a while. A .290/.360/.540 is POSSIBLE, but not likely, IMO....

I think you guys aren't adjusting enough for the changing run-environment. Only 11 guys OPSed over .900. 17 over .875.
   12. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:02 PM (#4661457)
Yeah - and LAAoA isn't a hitters park. Point taken....Something in the mid .800's is probably more likely.

But, I still think he could have a year or two in the .900 range before he completely craters. Again, IF he's healthy and the reduced production isn't bat speed related. If he was just hurt - he could bounce back a bit more. I have to remind myself that he OPS'd .935 the second half of 2012. He's not that far removed from being pretty damn good.

[EDIT] that was a SLG heavy .354/.581. The drop in walks is what scares me. He might not be seeing the ball as well and a bit slower than he used to be with the bat, and viola. He's toasty....
   13. Rants Mulliniks Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:11 PM (#4661465)
I considered it, but I guess not to the appropriate degree. Let's just say I think he's capable of a 140 OPS+ if completely healthy. Considering Brandon Moss's OPS+ last year was 139 with an .880 OPS, I guess a .900 from Pujols is overly optimistic.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:20 PM (#4661473)
But, I still think he could have a year or two in the .900 range before he completely craters. Again, IF he's healthy and the reduced production isn't bat speed related. If he was just hurt - he could bounce back a bit more. I have to remind myself that he OPS'd .935 the second half of 2012. He's not that far removed from being pretty damn good.

I think if he does manage a ~.900 OPS it's because he plays a partial season (~300-400 PAs) and doesn't play enough to get fatigued.

I doubt he can handle a 150 G grind, and produce at a high level.
   15. Willie Mayspedester Posted: February 24, 2014 at 03:06 PM (#4661564)
Won't the Angels put him at DH a few days a week so he only plays the field for ~100 games? If the surgery fixed his foot he should bounce back. He still hits for a lot of power with low strikeout rates. I'd be more worried about Hamilton.
   16. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 03:19 PM (#4661580)
Won't the Angels put him at DH a few days a week so he only plays the field for ~100 games? If the surgery fixed his foot he should bounce back. He still hits for a lot of power with low strikeout rates. I'd be more worried about Hamilton.

Hasn't this foot been nagging him for years and years? I didn't think surgery did much for plantar fasciatis?
   17. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: February 24, 2014 at 04:14 PM (#4661609)
#16, I think that's right, and the Angels shut Pujols down last year specifically to rest his feet. Hopefully it gives some relief, because last year, he basically began the season suffering the effects of PF, and was never right to begin with.
   18. zonk Posted: February 24, 2014 at 04:21 PM (#4661612)
I don't know why, but somehow I had the impression that he had recovered last year a bit.... I know he missed a good chunk of the year, but 258/330/437 for an OPS+ of 116? Yikes.

I'd be worried that he gets a full season of 150 games and hits more 270/350/450 - that would qualify as a bounceback year but with 7 more years on that contract? Yowza... It makes the A-Rod extension look like a steal in comparison.

Maybe he has another ~.900ish OPS season in him maybe not, but he hasn't been there in 3 years - and even then, "just" .906 his last year in St Louis.
   19. cardsfanboy Posted: February 24, 2014 at 05:16 PM (#4661636)
I'll take the over on him putting up a 130 ops+ (if I was a betting man) but his days of 170 ops+ is more than likely gone. Maybe a confluence of positive things happen and he has a hot year, it's possible but not realistic. Still he's a determined individual and I fully expect a bounceback year from him... at least for the first half of the season.
   20. nick swisher hygiene Posted: February 24, 2014 at 05:56 PM (#4661655)
it's weird, and genuinely sad, the way players will talk about "getting older" and "being hurt more" as if there was no causal relationship between the two.....
   21. Howie Menckel Posted: February 24, 2014 at 07:08 PM (#4661711)
FThomas OPS+, in order: 180 174 177 212 179 178 181 126 125 163 --- 119 146 --- --- 140 125 ---
AlbPujols OPS+, in order: 157 151 187 173 168 178 157 192 189 173 143 148 ---

-- if not BA title qualifier

in decreasing order:
FThomas OPS+: 212 181 180 179 178 177 174 163 146 140 126 125 125 119 --- --- --- ---
AlbPujols OPS+: 192 189 187 178 173 173 168 157 157 151 148 143 ---

Pujols has the longer tail already
and he could field

   22. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 07:18 PM (#4661718)
Angels’ Albert Pujols prepared to ‘shut a lot of mouths’ this season


If so, maybe the Angels should swing a trade for Jesus Montero.
   23. GotowarMissAgnes Posted: February 24, 2014 at 08:54 PM (#4661757)
Henry Aaron, age 37, 1971.
   24. zonk Posted: February 24, 2014 at 10:13 PM (#4661792)
I'll take the over on him putting up a 130 ops+ (if I was a betting man) but his days of 170 ops+ is more than likely gone.


Hmmmm.... straight-up? probably. Bump it to 140 - and I'd bet the under even-money.

It's a shame really.

As much as he spent most of his career playing for a team I hate, as a baseball fan generically, I think you always like to see pure excellence at play and it's fun to witness guys truly probing the inner circle greats. Obviously, Pujols was in that class through about age 30 (jokes or whatever aside) - but if he basically OPS+s his way through another 5-6 years of 110-120, he probably ends up more Frank Robinson than the heights of say, Mantle, Hornsby, or even Williams.... Without working out some ranking system that fairly accounts for era, various metrics, etc -- I'd say he probably needs a pretty solid resurgence to keep Musial in range, career-wise.

That's a shame, really... I mean, hey - don't get me wrong - F-Robby is probably just a notch below inner circle so that's a hell of a career... but it's always fun, as you age, to be able to point to a guy and say you saw his whole career and have people automatically respond with a "wow" rather than a sort of raised eyebrow that requires them to then look up the data and realize that he was headed in that direction.

Without running the numbers or employing favorite toy -- where do you think he ends up.... 3300 hits, 625 HRs, a career OPS+ of about 140, maybe 120 WAR?
   25. cardsfanboy Posted: February 24, 2014 at 10:38 PM (#4661801)
Without running the numbers or employing favorite toy -- where do you think he ends up.... 3300 hits, 625 HRs, a career OPS+ of about 140, maybe 120 WAR?


Sounds about right, the war might be a little high, but he should clear 600 homeruns and 3000 hits, and the 140 seems a little low but 140-150 seems about the right range. He's at 93 war right now to say he gets to 120 would mean another 27 over the next 7/8 years. Not really sure how likely that is.

(looking at active leaders in war.... Beltre is probably going to pass Jeter for 3rd place among active leaders this season)
   26. Walt Davis Posted: February 24, 2014 at 11:44 PM (#4661839)
In increasing order of optimism:

Griffey 34-40: 258/346/475, 112, 5 WAR (11 oWAR) in about 3100 PA
Bagwell 34-37: 277/382/498, 125, 12 WAR in about 2200 PA
Thomas 34-40: 263/378/509, 131, 15 WAR in about 3200 PA
FRob 34-40: 268/375/483, 145, 19 WAR in about 2900 PA*
Aaron 34-42: 283/373/533, 153, 38 WAR in about 4700 PA (still amazing)

*PA probably reduced a bit by being a player-manager at 39-40

Griffey missed huge chunks of time 31-33 so Pujols is more promising than that. Bagwell though looked better -- durable and in standard, slow decline. But then he was derailed by fairly major injury. Thomas looked worse -- 125 OPS+ at 30, 126 at 31, huge year at 32, hurt all year at 33. Robinson and Aaron looked better.

But, yeah, at this point, anything over 20 WAR would seem very unlikely. In the expansion era, only 20 players have made it to 20 WAR from 34 on, only 9 of them made it to 25+ and only 4 to 30. And while in one sense there's no reason he can't have the late career of Edgar or Molitor, the dropping BA suggests that Schmidt (274/373/512, 26 WAR) or Downing (yes, Downing 269/379/446, 24 WAR) or Da Evans (245/356/445, 22 WAR) is the upside.

As mentioned, that huge drop in BBs at 31 was troubling but one would have thought temporary -- I guessed he over-reacted to the early season slump and felt he had to "hit" his way out of it. But that lower rate has stuck at 32-33 too while the BA has dropped. I keep waiting for him to realize that he needs to adopt the old man style of Thomas, Schmidt, Downing and Evans -- 260/360/480 is where it's at man! (137 OPS+ last year). Seems like he's not accepting that the bat has slowed and the quotes above aren't encouraging.

Here's an interesting if unsurprising factoid. From 20-29, Thomas K'd in 12% of his PAs; from 34-40, he K'd in 17%. The walk rate did fall but only from 18% to 15%. The BABIP shift was even more dramatic from 330 to 267. G/F went from an already low .58 to .36

Unfortunately, Albert only has some of that. BABIP from 315 to 274 but his G/F has gone up a smidgen so it's not because he's hitting even more FB. The K-rate is up from 9 to 11% but the walk rate from 13 to 9%. (not substantially worse than Thomas I see)

Anyway, his future is most likely in flyballs, strikeouts and walks, not line drives and a 320 BA. The sooner he accepts that, the better.

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