Albert the Great

Seriously, have you checked out this guy's numbers lately? Not including stats from today's game, which featured yet another game-winning RBI by Albert, here's what he's on pace to do this year:

HR: 93
RBI: 216
RUNS: 177

Add to that his current .338 batting average (just five points higher than his career average), .489 on-base percentage, and .926 slugging percentage, and you've got the makings of one of the best offensive seasons ever. Take Bonds' steroid-inflated years out of the picture, and Pujols is on pace for a Ruthian season with no contemporary equivalent. He would tie Ruth's mark of 177 runs scored (best post-1900), erase Hack Wilson's RBI mark of 191, and easily take down the best marks for slugging percentage and home runs.

Now, of course, I don't expect him to keep this pace up. That's not because Albert isn't a model of consistency; he's actually a significantly better hitter after the All-Star break. I just don't think any manager will continue to pitch to him. If he stays hot for even another few weeks, any manager worth his job will walk Pujols if anyone is on base or if the game is close and late. With runners in scoring position, he's hitting .533 this year. Would you pitch to him?

If managers try to pitch around him, it will be interesting to see how Pujols reacts. I would not be surprised to see him expand his strike zone early in the at-bat and swing at pithes off the plate, if only to encourage the pitcher to try and battle him instead of walking him. That's possibly not the smartest strategy. Baserunners are baserunners, after all. But Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds are not quite their prime selves, so I'd rather take my risk with Pujols hitting with two strikes.

Here's my guestimate as to how his year will finish:

Plate appearances: 675
Walks: 140
At-bats: 515
Hits: 182
2B: 36
HR: 52
RBI: 123
Runs: 148
On-base %: .487
Slugging %: .753
Avg: .353

Let's see how close I come. If true, this would be Pujols' best season -- by far -- in his career. But I don't think that's so outrageous considering he's in his age 26 season, considered by most to be the beginning of a hitter's "prime" years.


Don Gerard said...

How's he doing v. the Cubbos?

...sorry...couldn't resist.

thenoiseboy said...

Well, the season is young. But so far he's hitting just a .182. But he's made his four hits count: 1 double, 1 homer, 8 RBI. I'm guessing he'll revert to form. Over the previous three seasons, he has more homers -- 18 -- against the Cubs than any other team.