It is not surprising that the St. Louis Cardinals are just 2-5 to start the season given the low level of contribution from two top offensive stars. Outfielder Matt Holliday remains out as he recovers from an appendectomy, while first baseman Albert Pujols is in an unusual place – the midst of a deep slump.
The man generally recognized as the best player in the game has slumped before – every player has – but Pujols’ struggles are magnified because his team has uncharacteristically stumbled out of the gate as well.
We will look at a few of Pujols’ numbers through the initial seven contests of the 2011 season with a historical context included. If/when Pujols does get his game in order, one can see the type of year that is typical/expected of him.
0 = Intentional bases on balls. Normally, opposing managers fear Pujols, pitching around him in crucial situations. That has yet to occur in 2011. Albert led the NL in intentional walks in each of the last three seasons, totaling 116.
0 = Number of doubles. Pujols has averaged 43 two-base hits per season over his ten-year career.
1 = Home runs. Albert led the National League in long balls each of the last two seasons, totaling 89 during that time.
2 = Walks. Normally a patient hitter, Pujols drew a total of 322 walks in 2008-10, or an average of 107 per year. His current pace will leave him with 46 this season. That would be exactly half of his lowest yearly total since 2004.
E3, E3 = Two errors in the field. The reigning NL Gold Glove winner and two-time selection as the top defender in the league at first base had just four miscues during his entire 2010 season of 157 games.
4 = Runs batted in. Since his 2001 debut, Pujols has averaged 156 games played per season. He is on pace to finish the 2011 season with a career-low 89 RBI. Albert has never finished below 103 and had just one year with less than 116 driven in.
5 = Double plays ground into, tops in MLB. The Cardinals’ number three hitter has averaged just 20 GIDPs per season over his first decade as a major leaguer. His current rate would have him approaching his normal full-season mark by the end of the first month.
5 = Hits in 28 at-bats over seven games. Four of the five were singles, making his line .179/.226/.286 (BA/OBP/SLG).
60 Minutes = Sunday night television show in which Pujols will appear this week to discuss his charitable endeavors.
$300,000,000 = Amount of money Pujols is reportedly seeking for his services for the 2012-2021 seasons.