Between his poor production at the plate and labored running on the bases it’s been painful to watch Albert Pujols this season, but the future Hall of Famer has quietly started to turn things around this month.
Pujols is hitting .313 with four homers, five doubles, and a .952 OPS in 17 games this month, compared to .246 with a .733 OPS in April and May, and the 33-year-old told Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com: “I feel right now like my old me, like when I was in St. Louis.”
Pujols also admitted that he never felt good last season: “There were some streaks here and there that I hit, but I was battling. I never got to a point where I could say, ‘Holy cow, that’s my bat speed.'”
Obviously hitting well for a few weeks in June isn’t conclusive proof of Pujols returning to his old self, but the Angels will take any signs of optimism they can get at this point and he’s made some adjustments at the plate to take less of a toll on his knee and foot problems.
Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark met the press late this morning and covered a wide array of topics.
One of them: free agency, which he referred to as being “under attack” based on the slow market for free agents last offseason.
“What the players saw last offseason was that their free-agent rights were under attack on what has been the bedrock of our system,” Clark said. He added that they “have some very difficult decisions to make.” Presumably in the form of grievances and, down the road, a negotiating strategy that seeks to claw back some of the many concessions the union has given owners in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. CBAs, it’s worth noting, that Clark negotiated. We’ve covered that territory in detail in the past.
Of more immediate interest was Clark’s comment that the idea of a universal designated hitter is, among players, “gaining momentum.” Clark says “players are talking about it more than they have in the past.” We’ve talked a lot about that as well.
Given that hating or loving the DH is the closest thing baseball has to a religion, no one’s mind is going to be changed by any of this, but I think, practically speaking, it’s inevitable that the National League will have the DH and I think it happens relatively soon. Perhaps in the next five years. The opposition to it at this point is solely subjective and based on tradition. People like pitchers batting and they like double switches and they like the leagues being different because they, well, like it. If the system were being set up today, however, they’d never have it this way and I think even the DH-haters know that well. That doesn’t mean that you can’t dislike a universal DH, but it does mean that you can’t expect the people who run the game to cater to that preference when it makes little sense for them to do it for their own purposes.
Anyway, enjoy convincing each other in the comments about how the side of that argument you dislike is wrong.