It may be hard to get your brain around the size of the Albert Pujols deal, but it’s not terribly hard to see how it breaks down in terms of bang for the Angels’ buck.
For the next, oh, 3-4 years, I suspect, the Angels will be happy with this deal. They’re adding the best hitter in the game to a lineup that desperately needed a big time bopper. In doing so they’re going to improve the team that — all things being equal — stood to be just outside the playoff conversation for the next couple of years to one who you could easily call the favorites in the AL West.
But aging is a pain, and Albert Pujols, for as awesome as he still is, has his best years behind him. There are signs that he’s starting his decline. Sure, his decline is going to be better than anyone else’s prime, but we are not going to see circa-2008 Albert Pujols again.
Flash forward to 2016-2021. Which don’t even sound like real years, they’re so far away. Name one player who remained elite in his age 36-41 seasons. Now name one not named Barry Bonds. Yeah, it’s fairly obvious that El Hombre — can we still call him that? — will be overpaid, perhaps severely so, for the second half of this deal.
But the Angels know this. They’re willing to deal with it. They want to win a championship or two now, while the core is in its prime. They also wisely want to turn themselves into the preeminent baseball team in southern California, putting a stake in the heart of the Dodgers while they sleep through litigation and all of that ugliness. The Angels are going to make a lot of money and get a huge TV deal and stuff before Pujols’ decline becomes a problem. And you can’t blame them for that.
But it will become a problem at some point. It won’t — purely on the baseball terms — look very good in a few years.
We’re not talking the 100 meters here. We’re talking practical baseball sprinting. That’s defined by the StatCast folks at MLB as “feet per second in a player’s fastest one-second window,” while sprinting for the purposes of, you know, winning a baseball game.
StatCast ranked all players who have at least 10 “max effort” runs this year. I won’t give away who is at the top of this list, but given that baseball’s speedsters tend to get a lot of press you will not be at all surprised. As for the bottom of the list, well, the Angels don’t pay Albert Pujols to run even when he’s not suffering from late career chronic foot problems, so they’ll probably let that one go. I will say, however, that I am amused that the third slowest dude in baseball is named “Jett,” however.
Lately people have noticed some odd things about home run distances on StatCast, suggesting that maybe their metrics are wacko. And, of course, their means of gauging this stuff is proprietary and opaque, so we have no way of knowing if their numbers are off the reservation or not. As such, take all of the StatCast stuff you see with a grain of salt.
That said, even if the feet-per-second stuff is wrong here, knowing that Smith is faster than Jones by a factor of X is still interesting.
All-Star voting ends this Thursday night, just before midnight eastern time. The All-Star teams — at least how they’ll appear before the dozen or two substitutions we’ll get before the game — will be unveiled on Sunday at 7pm on ESPN, just before Sunday Night Baseball.
Which means you still have time to alter these standings, which now stand as the final update before things are set in, well, not stone, but at least some Play-Doh which has been left out of the can too long and is kinda hard to mess with.