Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus has a revolutionary idea for the Texas pitching staff: whenever Albert Pujols steps to the plate for the remainder of the World Series, either keep all pitches out of the strike zone or simply give him a free, intentional pass.
“We cannot take chances on Pujols,” Andrus said after Saturday’s 16-7 Game 3 loss to the Cardinals. “Everybody knows how good he is. We’ve got to execute pitches. If he doesn’t chase, give him first base. We’d rather see Matt Holliday beat us than Pujols. You never want to see the best hitter beat you.”
It’s the kind of thing you hear TV analysts suggest often, but is it really a smart strategy? And will it actually stymie the Cards’ attack?
Holliday went 1-for-5 in Game 3 Saturday and is just 2-for-11 through the first three games of this Fall Classic. But he’s also batting .326/.420/.465 across 50 plate appearances this postseason and carries a .929 career OPS. The guy is a monster. Behind him is Lance Berkman, with a career .954 OPS. And right behind Berkman is David Freese, the hottest overall hitter in these 2011 playoffs.
Walking Pujols at every turn might make sense on the surface, but the St. Louis lineup is deep enough to make the Rangers pay dearly. If Ron Washington is going to employ Andrus’ strategy, he’ll have to pick and choose his spots. Feeding the Cardinals free base runners will only lead to trouble.