The 2011 Braves are really freakin slow

0 Comments

33 games into the season, the Braves are a remarkable 5-for-15 stealing bases. Now they’re not the only team in single digits when it comes to steals: the Cubs have just one more stolen base on the season. But to have been caught on two-thirds of their attempts makes this an historically awful start.

The Braves are currently on pace for 25 steals, which would be the lowest total since the Mets had 25 in 1994. The last team to finish with fewer than 25 steals were the 1973 Pirates, with 23.

Of course, the Braves aren’t really that bad. But unless they pick it up, they will join this list of the teams with the worst steal percentages since 2005:

Nationals 2005: 45/45 – 50.0%
Athletics 2005: 31/22 – 58.5%
Braves 2006: 52/35 – 59.8%
Tigers 2006: 60/40 – 60.0%
Royals 2005: 53/33 – 61.6%
Cubs 2009: 56/34 – 62.2%
Dodgers 2005: 58/35 – 62.4%
Cubs 2005: 65/39 – 62.5%
Indians 2007: 72/41 – 62.8%
Cardinals 2007: 56/33 – 62.9%
Rockies 2006: 85/50 – 63.0%
Giants 2010: 55/32 – 63.2%
Indians 2005: 62/36 – 63.3%
White Sox 2007: 78/45 – 63.4%
Cubs 2010: 55/31 – 63.9%
Royals 2007: 78/44 – 63.9%

The 2011 White Sox are also threatening an appearance, thanks largely to Juan Pierre’s awful start. They’re 18-for-36 stealing bases in the early going.

It’s hard to imagine the Braves finishing short of 30 steals, but they might fail to reach 40 unless they bring in some speed later on. The last team to steal fewer than 40 bases was the 2008 Padres.

Of course, the Braves can take heart that a team doesn’t need to be particularly good at stealing bases to win. Note the presence of the 2010 Giants on the list above.

Cards’ Pujols hits 700th career home run, 4th to reach mark

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

LOS ANGELES – St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run on Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history.

The 42-year-old Pujols hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.

With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

It’s been a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd – he finished out last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Reaching 700 homers seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he was batting .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March for a $2.5 million, one-year contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.