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The Best Sign of the Year


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It is seemingly small but potentially huge in impact: Albert Pujols has 9 walks in 9 games, a 22.0% walk rate. Check out the trend over the last few years:

 

2009: 180 wRC+, 16.4%

2010: 164 OPS+, 14.7%

2011: 146 wRC+, 9.4%

2012: 132 wRC+, 7.8%

2013: 170 wRC+, 22.0%

 

(wRC+ is Fangraphs' more sophisticated version of OPS+; 100 is average, 120 good, 150+ great).

 

Now obviously he won't keep walking at that pace, but note that last year he didn't draw his 9th walk until his 41st game - and we all know how he did then. A lot of analysts have pointed to the decline of his plate discipline and the clear correlation to his overall hitting. If Albert has truly figured this out then we might see his best year since 2010...which would be a lot better than many of us expected (or feared). Even if he gets back to "only" a 150 wRC+ it will be huge for this club.

 

Watch the walk rate. I think it will be one of the best indicators of what sort of season Albert will have, and whether we're getting something closer to vintage 2010 and before Pujols or the 2011-12 diminished version.

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Pujols is a beast! Wait till the chains come off, but for the time being he should be batting cleanup with Ham-bone's recent struggles at the plate. It does no good to have Pujols consistently walked and then no one behind him to make the opposing pitcher pay for it. That's why the Cardinals got Holliday for that protection. I don't see Ham sitting in a slump forever but maybe MS should switch it up. I mean what's the worse that can happen right? You score runs?

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