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.
On Wednesday, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman was hit by Cardinals pitcher Ramon Santos. It marked the seventh time an Astros batter had been hit in spring training exhibition games thus far, the highest total among all teams. As expected, teams are exacting revenge for the Astros’ cheating ways!
Well, not quite. The pitch Santos hit Bregman with was a 3-2 breaking ball that got away. Usually, if a pitcher is going to hit a batter as an act of revenge, he’ll attempt to do it with a first-pitch fastball.
José Altuve was also hit by a pitch against the Tigers on Sunday. The pitch, which looks to be the off-speed variety, appeared to graze his uniform as opposed to hitting him flush, so it was likely unintentional on the part of pitcher Nick Ramirez.
Other Astros to have been hit in spring training thus far: Alex De Goti, Aledmys Díaz, Osvaldo Duarte, Dustin Garneau, and Jake Meyers. Not exactly a who’s-who list of Code Breaker operatives.
Will some pitchers intentionally throw at the Astros this year? Almost certainly, despite commissioner Rob Manfred’s warning. Have they been doing it from the moment exhibition games began earlier this month? Certainly not.