All of us Los Angeles Angel fans are waiting for Albert Pujols to come out of his batting slump. It is not going to happen. He used to be "Fat Albert." But now he is Slim Trim Albert, and his dramatic weight loss has badly affected his hitting. His high fly balls to the outfield don't even reach the warning track anymore. He isn't even much of a threat to hit home runs in 2012. He is not aggressive at the plate, and he takes "home run pitches" for called strikes.
Last Friday night, my daughter and I went to the Angel game against
Baltimore. We sat in the second row behind the Orioles' dugout. When
I saw Pujols up close, I was alarmed by his slim, trim body. To the
casual observer he looks like he is in fantastic physical condition.
But something is wrong.
I think the Angels should send him to an Internal Medicine specialist
for a complete checkup. I also think the Angels' trainer should take
him into the weight room for a telltale evaluation. If he cannot
bench press the weight that he used to handle, it will show objectively
that his physical strength is waning.
When the TV camera is on him close up, his arms are not massive and
strong like they used to be. His upper body is much less than it used
to be. His neck muscles and facial muscles show a Slim Trim Albert who
bears little resemblance to the Fat Albert who used to hit over 40
home runs every year.
By the end of May, the Angels' top brass will be asking, "How long can
we keep putting Albert into the lineup batting third when he is just
not producing at the plate?"
I am reminded of Cecil Fielder of the Detroit Tigers. In 1988, he was anunproductive hitter for Toronto Blue Jays at 230 pounds. They released
him and he played in Japan in 1989. In 1990, he came back to the U.S.
at 6'5" and well over 270 pounds. His hips and thighs were beyond huge;
they were massive. Results as first baseman for the Tigers:
1990 - 51 home runs, 132 RBI, and lead American League in both.
1991 - 44 home runs, 133 RBI; and lead American League in both.
1992 - 35 home runs, 124 RBI
1993 - 30 home runs, 117 RBI
Pujols' performance as a defensive first baseman is always excellent --
sometimes spectacular. But the Angels are paying him $24 million
per year to bat .330 and hit 40 home runs and drive in 120 runs. That
is not going to happen in 2012.
I hope I am wrong, wrong, wrong in my above assessment. But I think I
am right. Slim Trim Albert is not going to be a productive hitter.
Al's son sent a follow up to his dad:
Below is my son Rick's assessment of Albert Pujols' lack of hitting production so far for the Angels. I see no indications that he is going to get better. The most disturbing part is that American League pitchers are throwing him home run pitches right over the plate. The pitchers and pitching coaches are not afraid of him at all.
From: Rick Schallau
Sent: Apr 28, 2012 9:20 PM
To: Al Schallau
Subject: Re: Albert Pujols' batting slump will last
From: Rick Schallau
To: Al Schallau
Pujols may or may not have been using human growth hormone, which baseball had never blood tested for until this year. If he had been using H.G.H. he had incentive up until his signing with the Angels to continue using it. Inflated stats equates to an inflated contract. Now that he has a ten year contract that will last through the end of his career, he has no further incentive to continue to use H.G.H. Since baseball contracts are guaranteed, the Angels are "on the hook" for all of that money.
Pujols is from the Dominican Republic, a place that is notorious for fake birth certificates. Although he is listed as being born January 16, 1980, making him 32 years old, who knows for sure that he wasn't born in 1978 or even 1977? Pujols hit 37 home runs as a 21 year old rookie in 2001. I don't see many 21 year olds hitting that many home runs these days, although you do see it more often from 23-24 year olds. For comparison sake, American born Prince Fielder hit 28 home runs when he was 22, then hit 50 home runs when he was 23, his second full season in the majors. Was Pujols 23 or 24 as a rookie (which would make him 34 or 35 now)?
Beyond statistics such as batting average, home runs and slugging percentage is the important statistic of walks, as well as intentional walks:
2009 - AB - 568, BB - 115, IBB - 44, 1 BB per 4.9 AB (highest walk total of career)
2010 - AB - 587, BB - 103, IBB - 38, 1 BB per 5.6 AB
2011 - AB - 579, BB - 61, IBB - 15, 1 BB per 9.49 AB (lowest walk total of career)
2012 - AB - 80, BB 6, IBB 2 - 1 BB per 13.3 AB
Early returns are discouraging, let's hope Pujols can turn things around.