By: Marc Lam
STEPHEN BRASHEAR / GETTY IMAGES
Albert Pujols is one of the greatest hitters of all time, and that is not an understatement. He is also one of the most accomplished players of all time. But his decline has been a sharp and saddening one, rendering one of baseball’s icons into a shell of himself. How did it happen so suddenly?
Part 1: Injuries
Albert Pujols’ first injury issues occurred in 2011 when he was still with the Cardinals. He injured his wrist while colliding with Wilson Betemit. While not seen as a particularly serious injury at the time it would begin a long stretch of injuries that would derail Pujols’ hitting abilities. After signing his mega-deal with the Angels, Pujols got a knee surgery in his first off-season with the Angels. In 2013 Pujols partially tore his left plantar fascia. He would need to get another surgery, a sign of things to come. Though Pujols has been able to regularly play for the Angels it has been anything but smooth. In 2015 he needed to get surgery once again and after so many surgeries and injuries, Pujols has just not been the same and the numbers show.
Part 2: The Analytics
Pujols’ has also seen a steep decline in his statistics.
The most drastic difference between his peak form and now is that he is walking at a severely lower rate.
This chart shows how severely Pujols’ walk numbers have declined over time. While his traditional stats(home runs, RBIs, hits) look pretty good, they don’t tell the full story. Pujols only has an AVG. of 259 with the Angels. This season his war is a dismal 0.7, as his decline continues.
In conclusion, Albert Pujols’ decline has not been gradual but sharp. Pujols has 5 years left on his contract which he most likely will not play out fully. However, if he does he may have a chance at breaking Barry Bonds’ home run record, something that would surely look good on his hall of fame resume. Though I think it is much too late for a comeback, I’m rootin’ for ya Al.