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Albert Pujols collects his 100th RBI of the season

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With a two-run single in the top of the seventh inning of the Angels’ 9-3 victory over the White Sox on Tuesday, DH Albert Pujols collected his 99th and 100th RBI of the season. It’s the future Hall of Famer’s 14th 100-RBI season. Alex Rodriguez is the only other player in major league history with 14 100-RBI seasons.

Pujols, though, is a great example of why the RBI as a statistic has become so outmoded. He’s hitting just .242/.288/.389 on the season. His .677 OPS is the ninth-worst mark in baseball and it’s easily the worst mark of his career. Pujols, Joe Carter (1990), and Ruben Sierra (1993) are the only players since 1901 to drive in at least 100 runs while posting an OPS below .690, per Baseball Reference.

According to FanGraphs, Pujols has been worth 1.7 wins below replacement level this season. That’s a full half-win worse than the next-worst player, the Phillies’ Tommy Joseph. Mark Trumbo and Carlos Beltran are the only other players in the full-win below replacement category.

Carter, by the way, finished 17th in NL MVP Award balloting in 1990. He hit .232/.290/.391 with 24 homers, 115 RBI, and 22 stolen bases. It will be interesting to see if any voters unironically toss a down-ballot vote to Pujols for decent-looking traditional stats. I feel like we’ve come a long way in 27 years, though.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

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If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.