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Tipsheet: Angels will force Pujols to compete for 2019 at-bats


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https://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/jeff-gordon/tipsheet-angels-will-force-pujols-to-compete-for-at-bats/article_45ff2922-7ee3-5c51-baa5-2eae35f03ea1.html

Tipsheet: Angels will force Pujols to compete for 2019 at-bats

Say, is former Cardinals icon Albert Pujols ready to finish his career fighting for at-bats as a part-time player?

It sounds like he needs to brace for that possibility after the Los Angeles Angels signed first baseman Justin Bour. That could leave Pujols fighting for time at that position and in a designated hitter platoon with slugger/pitcher Shohei Ohtani, who is on the mend from Tommy John surgery.

While Ohtani won't pitch in 2019, the team believes he will eventually resume hitting. Meanwhile, Pujols is recovering from knee surgery.

 

"There's going to be a balance," new Angels manager Brad Ausmus told reporters at the winter meetings. "We don't expect Ohtani to be ready when the season (starts). There will be DH at-bats earlier in the season made available to (Pujols). And hopefully he gets off to a hot start. But for me, the bigger and more delicate balance is how often can he go to first. That's really the most important thing based on the health of his knees."

This is one of the fallouts from Ausmus replacing Mike Scioscia as manager. Just because the Angels owe Pujols $28 million, $29 million and $30 million the next three seasons doesn't mean he is ensured a full-time role.

"In my mind, he is one of the top five best hitters ever in the game of baseball," Ausmus said. "I saw him up close and personal when I was in Houston and they were in the National and Central and the Cardinals as well. This guy is a phenomenal talent. But going forward, it's just going to be his health and performance. It's a performance-based game."

And Ohtani can sure perform. Last season he hit .285 with 22 homers, 61 RBIs and an on-base plus slugging percentage of .925.

"I remember watching him take batting practice the first day in Tempe when I was there, and the one thing that stood out is how the ball came off his bat," Ausmus said. "The only way I can describe it is it's very similar to Miguel Cabrera. And these guys have tremendous power. And even more notable, they have tremendous power to the opposite field. And you just don't see guys like that. The other thing that was really impressive was his speed."

As for Bour, he hit .227 with 20 homers and 59 RBIs for the Marlins and Phillies last season. So the door to first base should remain open if Pujols can pull himself together this season.

Edited by Ace-Of-Diamonds
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For me, the biggest question will be how long Shohei Ohtani will be out of the lineup. Like is this the first couple weeks of the season, is it the first month? Is this going to drag on into June?

And even when Ohtani returns, will he still be productive.  Without fault, every single freakin year, someone misses Spring Training and guess what, they freakin suck for a month straight, then after that month, they're in their own head just trying to figure things out. It takes a full two months before they actually hit their stride. 

So if Shohei is out until June, it might be August before he's actually valuable with the bat. 

From the sound of things, the Angels are expecting him back in May, and again, with no Spring Training, and coming off surgery, Ohtani may not be himself with the bat until the all-star break. 

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Worst-case scenario (20%): Pujols continues as is, and Ausmus channels Scioscia and starts him no matter what.

Likely scenario (75%): Pujols continues as is, but with reduced playing time, ending up with <350 PA for the year.

Best-case scenario (5%): Pujols rediscovers the fountain of youth, has his best season since 2012 and pushes the Angels to a postseason berth.

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42 minutes ago, Second Base said:

For me, the biggest question will be how long Shohei Ohtani will be out of the lineup. Like is this the first couple weeks of the season, is it the first month? Is this going to drag on into June?

And even when Ohtani returns, will he still be productive.  Without fault, every single freakin year, someone misses Spring Training and guess what, they freakin suck for a month straight, then after that month, they're in their own head just trying to figure things out. It takes a full two months before they actually hit their stride. 

So if Shohei is out until June, it might be August before he's actually valuable with the bat. 

From the sound of things, the Angels are expecting him back in May, and again, with no Spring Training, and coming off surgery, Ohtani may not be himself with the bat until the all-star break. 

Ohtani might as well have missed spring training last year based on his results. He is only going to DH, he should fine. I think the Angels may be too cautious, sometimes.

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12 hours ago, Angelsjunky said:

Worst-case scenario (20%): Pujols continues as is, and Ausmus channels Scioscia and starts him no matter what.

Likely scenario (75%): Pujols continues as is, but with reduced playing time, ending up with <350 PA for the year.

Best-case scenario (5%): Pujols rediscovers the fountain of youth, has his best season since 2012 and pushes the Angels to a postseason berth.

+1

39 years old with no doubt the knees and feet of someone in their early/mid 40s = likely scenario, to best benefit the team while still showing enough respect to Pujols in starting him about 80-90 games tops.

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Bullshit.  Bour will be the one fighting for at bats.  Frankly, they both should be further down the depth charts.

 

Pujols-2018  WAR 0.5  BA .245  HR 19 RBI 64 OPB .289  SLG .411 OPS .700

Bour-2018  WAR 0.6  BA .227  HR 20  RBI 59 OPB .341  SLG .404 OPS .746

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