In the long run, it seems Albert Pujols wouldn’t need to discover a new residence—only a new place to go to work for the following 5 – 6 months.
Pujols’s determination to reportedly signal with the Dodgers for the rest of the season probably had much less to do with his new group’s proximity to his previous one than different baseball-related components, however the similarities between the Dodgers and Angels finish with their Southern California roots. The transfer was not one many predicted when the Angels determined to launch Pujols within the final 12 months of his 10-year contract, and now Pujols will go from a group mired in final place to affix the defending champions on their quest for a repeat.
Pujols’s break up from the Angels reportedly centered on his lack of enjoying time, as the long run Corridor of Famer was not prepared to maneuver to a bench position and nonetheless views himself as an on a regular basis participant. That’s what makes this determination considerably puzzling from the 41-year-old’s perspective. The Dodgers are at present banged up, however there don’t seem like many at-bats accessible for Pujols at first base, and clearly none from the designated hitter spot (possibly subsequent 12 months, Nationwide League).
For the Dodgers, although, this transfer makes loads of sense. Although accidents have introduced a large roadblock, the muse of this group is as sturdy as another contender. The place the entrance workplace could make the most important affect on the acquisition entrance—in need of swinging a blockbuster commerce nearer towards the deadline—is on the margins, and that’s precisely the place Pujols can contribute most.
On the sphere, one space Pujols seems to have the ability to assist the Dodgers is towards left-handed pitchers. As a group, the Dodgers are hitting .217/.315/.352 towards lefties with a 25.8% strikeout charge and rank twenty fifth in remoted energy (.135). Since 2019, Pujols has fared nicely towards southpaws, batting .253/.295/.490 in 275 plate appearances, with a strikeout charge almost half as excessive (13.1%).
It’s no certain factor that Pujols would type a platoon with present first baseman Max Muncy, however he can assist present assist towards lefties sometimes. Muncy had been glorious dealing with left-handed pitchers all through his profession however has considerably struggled to this point in 2021, posting a hilarious .176/.417/.265 slash line with an absurd 27.1% stroll charge in 48 plate appearances.
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Pujols has additionally fared nicely of late when it issues most. In high- and medium-leverage conditions (as outlined by FanGraphs), Pujols is hitting .255/.324/.456 with a 105 wRC+ throughout 438 plate appearances. The Dodgers have loads of hitters who’ve delivered in clutch conditions all through their roster, however having yet one more in tow come October is actually one thing supervisor Dave Roberts would welcome.
Although his outcomes this 12 months with the Angels had been robust to look at, Pujols nonetheless managed to make exhausting contact. His common exit velocity (90.5 miles per hour) was his highest since 2016, whereas his anticipated batting common (.265) and anticipated slugging share (.513) dwarfed his precise outcomes. Dodgers followers shouldn’t financial institution on these anticipated outcomes to come back to fruition, although it’s at least an encouraging signal that he hasn’t been overpowered by opposing pitchers.
After which there’s the intangible piece of the puzzle. The Dodgers have been among the many most analytically inclined entrance places of work within the sport for years, however they totally perceive the significance of getting a participant of Pujols’s stature—of which there have been sparingly few all through the sport’s historical past—as a part of the clubhouse.
Mike Trout, the best participant of his era, acknowledged the super affect Pujols has had on him throughout their 10 years as teammates when talking about his launch by the Angels. Gamers maintain a particular reverence for Pujols all through the league, and the Dodgers have had success bringing in achieved elder statesmen who nonetheless had just a little bit left within the tank in years previous—suppose Chase Utley and David Freese in recent times.
In his twentieth season, Pujols has been described as pushed, hard-working and extremely proud, which suggests the Dodgers are getting a participant that has one thing to show who’s been by way of all of it and achieved every part potential throughout a storied profession. That’s a priceless particular person to have within the fold within the postseason, the place Pujols has delivered his most signature moments.
Corridor of Fame careers are difficult to land. Final week, there existed the true chance that Pujols’s profession would finish not with a standing ovation or retirement tour, however with a DFA announcement and an unceremonious press launch. Pujols’s legacy is unimpeachable, however that’s no method for a legend to name it a profession.
By touchdown in Dodger blue, Pujols has given himself—and us—one final shot at a dignified exit. Might we be so fortunate for it to be one appropriate for a participant with a profession as achieved and iconic because the one cast by The Machine.
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