Not only hasn’t Albert Pujols started producing like his usual self following a rough start to the season, he’s actually getting worse.
Pujols went 3-for-5 with three doubles on April 19, which was his first game with multiple extra-base hits and seemingly signaled that he was starting to come around. Instead he’s gone 5-for-50 (.100) since then, lowering his batting average from .296 to .202 and lowering his OPS from .759 to .524.
Within the 5-for-50 slump Pujols has drawn just two non-intentional walks while striking out eight times, which is very uncharacteristic for someone with significantly more walks (981) than strikeouts (718) for his entire career.
And of course he’s yet to homer for the Angels in 110 plate appearances.
There are 190 hitters with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title and 180 of them have a higher OPS than Pujols, including Chone Figgins, Clint Barmes, Jamey Carroll, Cliff Pennington, Scott Rolen, Dee Gordon, Alfonso Soriano, Ike Davis, Brandon Crawford, Drew Stubbs, Miguel Olivo, and Ian Stewart.
Oh, and the guy who replaced him in St. Louis too.
Not all players coming in to spring training are in The Best Shapes of Their Lives. Some have put on a few pounds, such as Miguel Sano, notes Twins GM Thad Levine:
Sano has been given medical clearance to engage in all baseball workouts with his teammates, his surgically reinforced left shin now completely healed, though the Twins intend to lighten his schedule to prevent any new injuries.
They’d like to lighten something else, too: His “generous carriage,” as General Manager Thad Levine delicately put it last week. Sano’s conditioning understandably lags, after a winter largely spent incapacitated by the surgery.
Sano’s conditioning has often been a topic of conversation among the members of the Minnesota press corps, though not always in good faith. For example, last year when Sano injured his shin by fouling a ball off of it, one member of the The Fourth Estate found a way to make a column out of blaming the freak injury on Sano’s conditioning. At least in this instance his colleague is correctly noting that the poor conditioning is a result of the injury and not the cause.
Still, it’s just another issue facing Sano this spring. He’s out of shape, coming off of an injury, and — not that he’s due any sympathy for it — he’s facing a likely suspension arising out of the allegations of sexual assault leveled against him late last year.
So this spring we’ll be seeing more of Sano, it seems. At least until that time we’ll be seeing less of him.