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Albert Pujols' swan song


Dochalo

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could it be that we see Albert improve this year over his previous couple of years because of a change in expectations?  

In the past, his job was to drive runs in at all cost.  

What if the pressure is off of him now that he'll be batting 6th and there are other guys in the lineup who can produce?  

Maybe they told him to just get on base and hit the ball hard to all fields.  

Perhaps he realizes that he can actually take advantage of the shorter wall in RF.  

Just to give everyone an idea of how rare it was to see him hit an oppo hr.   From where the elevated part of the wall is in RF to the RF line, he's hit six.  

Six for his entire halo career.  And I couldn't sort out the away hrs.  

This is not a prediction btw.  I think it's all too likely he performs similarly to what he's done the last two years.  

But that swing tonight was vintage.  Does he have it in him to do a bunch more of those this year and give the halos a dead cat bounce?  

It's not probable, but it's certainly possible.  

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I think it's certainly possible for the reasons you have suggested.  His biggest pressure will likely be performing well enough compared to others to justify getting him significant playing time.  I've never bought into the premise that he is a selfish player.  I think he wants to be part of a winning playoff team one more time, and is supportive of that goal.  He knows he is not the player he once was, but he still believes he has something to contribute both on and off the field.  However, as his skills continue to diminish, time is quickly running out on him.  As you have stated though, as the pressure comes off because of other player skills, we may get treated to one final blast of energy.  I think it will be fun to watch this play out.  I trust Eppler and Ausmus to keep him from dragging this team down. 

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I don't think it has to do with expectations.  I think it has to do with his fundamental approach at the plate that he seems to have regained.  And I think it's an interesting coincidence that happened with a change at the top with a new skipper.  Alluded to this in the other thread, and I believe he is going to have an improved season.  Not one of his old monster seasons necessarily, but definitely a better one.

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1 hour ago, MacNasty said:

I don't think it has to do with expectations.  I think it has to do with his fundamental approach at the plate that he seems to have regained.  And I think it's an interesting coincidence that happened with a change at the top with a new skipper.  Alluded to this in the other thread, and I believe he is going to have an improved season.  Not one of his old monster seasons necessarily, but definitely a better one.

I think he has always expected of himself that he should make teams pay for pitching around Trout. Now with some capable bats between them in the lineup he can feel free to take some of those pitches that were turned in 6-4-3 DPs when he tried to pull them and go the other way to beat the shift or take them and draw some walks. Maybe it came from Scioscia but more likely from his own mind that the slowest guy in the league wasn't doing the team any good standing at first without doing any damage.

.233/.274/.366/.639 as a 1B last year vs .263/.312/.478/.790 as a DH. Maybe if he gets more time off and is in better shape with the legs he can approach that .790 he had as DH last year

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I’ve thrown this theory out before with Pujols, and Weaver, and I’ll throw it out again - I really think both players became acutely aware of their limitations late in their career and simply went out onto the field using that awareness to perform in a very specific ‘all or nothing’ manner and as such didn’t really care how it affected their BA or ERA. The overall line was not pretty, but they were still at least okay in situations where it counted. And the numbers back this up. And without better options in house, it was easy to continue to defer to them simply because they continued to be successful enough in the situations that counted.

They knew 80%+ of their game was gone and threw all their energy into making the 20% remaining as likely to succeed as possible.

Pujols sees his job as driving in runs - if there are RISP, his approach changes completely - less power focus, shortens up the swing, emphasizes contact and drawing a walk. When not in that situation, he’s more aggressive and swings for the fences because otherwise he’s aware he’ll just clog up the bases or likely ground into the shift. 

Weaver wasn’t going to strike anyone out throwing 80, so he went into each start knowing he was going to have to pitch to contact, he would give up a couple home runs pretty much every start as a result, and hope that those came without anyone on base. I think his whole approach near the end wasn’t to go out and shut the guys out, but to simply limit the damage as much as possible through five innings and hope the offense and pen picked him up.

I do think Pujols is capable of a little rebound if he’s no longer relied upon as one of the top three bats, is used a little more sparingly for his health’s sake, and plays more specific to certain match-ups. He’s looked good this spring.

Edited by totdprods
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1 hour ago, totdprods said:

Pujols sees his job as driving in runs - if there are RISP, his approach changes completely - less power focus, shortens up the swing, emphasizes contact and drawing a walk. When not in that situation, he’s more aggressive and swings for the fences because otherwise he’s aware he’ll just clog up the bases or likely ground into the shift. 

^^^

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13 minutes ago, Jeff Fletcher said:

They’ll have one less reliever and one of Pujols, Bour and Ohtani will be on the bench each day. 

That looks like a tough situation to handle. I know it's only ST but Bour and Pujols both look good, but Ohtani is clearly the future.

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6 minutes ago, Glen said:

That looks like a tough situation to handle. I know it's only ST but Bour and Pujols both look good, but Ohtani is clearly the future.

It might also work beautifully though. I think Ohtani might wind up needing more time off than we'll anticipate in order to stay on track with a pitching rehab. Pujols will always benefit from rest. Bour won't see much time vs. lefties.

Limiting them all to 400-450 PA may be better than having any one get a full 500-600.

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27 minutes ago, totdprods said:

It might also work beautifully though. I think Ohtani might wind up needing more time off than we'll anticipate in order to stay on track with a pitching rehab. Pujols will always benefit from rest. Bour won't see much time vs. lefties.

Limiting them all to 400-450 PA may be better than having any one get a full 500-600.

Yep, perhaps keeping all three healthy in a rotation platoon at DH with Ohtani/Bour/Pujols, and Pujols/Bour at 1B will save them from injury.

Pujols and Bour are large men carrying some extra weight, so the less they're on their feet and not counted on to contribute every game, perhaps that's does the trick. 

I feel like if done right, Bour and Pujols could provide 40 HR between the two at 1B, while the DH spot gives us another 30-40 HR between the three. 

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25 minutes ago, Chuckster70 said:

Yep, perhaps keeping all three healthy in a rotation platoon at DH with Ohtani/Bour/Pujols, and Pujols/Bour at 1B will save them from injury.

Pujols and Bour are large men carrying some extra weight, so the less they're on their feet and not counted on to contribute every game, perhaps that's does the trick. 

I feel like if done right, Bour and Pujols could provide 40 HR between the two at 1B, while the DH spot gives us another 30-40 HR between the three. 

Yup - and like I mentioned above about Pujols, his usefulness might go way up if he is used more strategically - either starting in certain match-ups or used as a PH in key moments, as he has still been dangerous with RISP/clutch situations, and provides decent defense, both in glovework and instincts. 

I never really bought into some of the criticisms of Scioscia's lineup order or reliance on vets, but I could see this being a scenario where Ausmus, by cutting back on Bert's usage by a few percent and playing with where he fits into match-ups and lineup order more often, could actually confirm that particular criticism, at least specific to Albert.

If Bert can muster a .250/.320/.400/.720 in reduced playing time over 450 AB, I think there's a good chance he sticks around the last two seasons, filling that newly created 26th roster spot. Maybe scrapes out another 50 HR and gets close to 700 that last season.

Edited by totdprods
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39 minutes ago, totdprods said:

Yup - and like I mentioned above about Pujols, his usefulness might go way up if he is used more strategically - either starting in certain match-ups or used as a PH in key moments, as he has still been dangerous with RISP/clutch situations, and provides decent defense, both in glovework and instincts. 

I never really bought into some of the criticisms of Scioscia's lineup order or reliance on vets, but I could see this being a scenario where Ausmus, by cutting back on Bert's usage by a few percent and playing with where he fits into match-ups and lineup order more often, could actually confirm that particular criticism, at least specific to Albert.

If Bert can muster a .250/.320/.400/.720 in reduced playing time over 450 AB, I think there's a good chance he sticks around the last two seasons, filling that newly created 26th roster spot. Maybe scrapes out another 50 HR and gets close to 700 that last season.

Man, I hadn’t thought about that with the new roster spot. That couldn’t come at a more perfect time for him.  My feelings aren’t in favor of this scenario but it could very likely be what keeps him from retiring early. 

Edited by jordan
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48 minutes ago, Stradling said:

Is there anything about the new 26th roster spot?  Is it any different than the other spots?  

I don't believe so. I think there's just that weird quirk about players having to be designated at pitchers or position players that is in play, so teams have an appropriate minimum/maximum of each.

I'd love to see Albert morph into a sort of situational hitting specialist - initially, he'd still draw a lot of starts and playing time like we're accustomed, but over the next 2-3 years, he transitions further from everyday playing and more into a role where he starts only in ballparks or pitchers he matches up well against, while being the go-to PH in key moments on his days off. It could allow the most graceful exit for him as possible at this point.

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5 hours ago, totdprods said:

It might also work beautifully though. I think Ohtani might wind up needing more time off than we'll anticipate in order to stay on track with a pitching rehab. Pujols will always benefit from rest. Bour won't see much time vs. lefties.

Limiting them all to 400-450 PA may be better than having any one get a full 500-600.

This

Maybe 100 starts split equally between DH and 1B for Pujols, and the remaining DH starts (110) for Ohtani and remaining 1B starts (110) for Bour? 

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3 hours ago, Erstad Grit said:

I almost posted this,  though it wouldn't have been as eloquent. 

Often aging declining superstars have one last monster year.  Like a villain in a horror movie popping up one last time.  Hoping Pujols has one last vintage season. 

Channeling his inner Big Poopy....

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Bour has a .639 career ops vs. lefties.  He was very good in 2017 when he had that very good year but it was only in 96 PA which means they platooned him which probably had something to do with his success that year.  

I expect him to platoon a fair amount vs. lefties this year so at the very least, Albert will get those at bats.  

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I think this idea the year Pujols hangs them up. Ohtani is coming back in May and the team won't be playing Albert over one of the best hitters in baseball at age 24. So that leaves 1B and he's battling Bour for AB's there and at this stage of their careers, Bour gets on base more and can drive the ball better. Not to mention Thaiss and Walsh down in AAA who both will be major league ready sooner rather than later. 

He's being shown the door through competition. I think right around June, after being relegated fo platoon or bench duty, he'll decide it's time to start saying goodbye to playing the game he loves and instead moving into a front office role.  But it was one heck of a ride, wasn't it?

I still remember when he broke in, he was stronger and hit the ball so much harder than anyone else. Immediately, the best hitter in baseball became a race between Vlad and Pujols.

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