I’m not going to say that it has anything to do with his contract status, but Albert Pujols has not gotten off to the best start this season. Now, .275/.348/.459 is actually well above average this year, but it’s still quite un-Pujols like. His power has been down (12 home runs, but only 7 doubles) and, perhaps the most concerning part, he’s walking less often than he has at any point in his career (pressing a little?). He’s had some bad luck with a batting average on balls in play (.257) that’s quite low (career .312) – and if it were more like .300 (where it has been the last couple years), he’s be hitting over .300. Still, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman, and Colby Rasmus have had more to do with the Cardinals place in the standings than Pujols.
Perhaps things are picking up though. Against the Cubs yesterday, Pujols went 3-4 with a walk. He homered to right-center field in the 4th inning, double in a run in the 6th, and then jacked a second homer to left for the 12th inning walk-off. That gives him 4 bombs in the last week – a span during which he’s hit .370/.469/.889, and produced close to half his seasonal value in just that short span. Pujols is entirely possible of going on an extended tear; if he does so his end of year numbers will probably still look a bit low by his standards, but he might be the league’s best hitter anyway. That might not be enough to get him that $300 M contract, but I have to think his chances of that are pretty much nil if things continue on as they have been.
Also last night: Crazy game in Boston, as the A’s came back in the 9th, and later took an extra inning lead, but the Red Sox pulled it out in the end; Matt Kemp homered twice – with the second being a grand slam – as LA beat the Reds in 11 innings; Derek Holland pitched a complete game shutout to move the Rangers passed the Indians and much more.
What to watch tonight: The best match-up if you’re look at ERAs (assuming decent a number of innings), is actually Bartolo Colon (3.26) vs. Joel Piniero (3.52) – who would have seen that coming? There’s also young right-handers Jordan Lyles (making his second career start( and Mat Latis facing off; plus Roy Halladay (which is pretty much always must-see TV) versus James McDonald and the Pirates. Full schedule with probable pitchers here.