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Pujols the Victim

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Sam Miller was asked if Ryan Howard was the greatest victim of the shift.  Here's part of his response



My answer, after cycling through several angles on this, is actually Albert Pujols. He lost 89 hits to the shift, according to SIS, all but two of them after he joined the Angels. (SIS data goes back to 2009; Pujols was a Cardinal through 2011.) Various ways his biography/legacy/Hall of Fame plaque were affected by those 89 disappeared hits:

  • His career batting average would have been .304, not .296, which is an important first digit.

  • As an Angel, he would have hit .274/.328/.466 (if the new hits were all singles), which I’d consider a legacy-shifting difference from .256/.311/.447. He’d have the same OPS as an Angel as Garrett Anderson, rather than the same OPS as Jack Howell.

  • Over his final five full years with the Angels, when he actually hit .249/.299/.419 and his career really began to slide and he lost playing time (and, eventually, his job entirely), he would have instead hit .274/.322/.444, which isn’t great but isn’t career-ruining, especially for a veteran already under contract in a pitcher’s park and a DH league.

  • At his late-career rate of RBIs per single, he’d have had something like 27 more RBIs. That doesn’t close the 79-RBI gap between him and all-time leader Henry Aaron, but maybe a .274/.322/.444 version of Albert Pujols gets the extra 300 plate appearances in Anaheim to do it.

But then, sometimes losing your job is just what you need to put a button on things. I can’t say whether that’s true for Ryan Howard, but all this wing-flapping might well have kept Pujols from ever landing back in St. Louis for his perfect final season. Probably best to be grateful for the shifts that were.


If shortstops hadn't been planted in the outfield waiting for him to lumber to first base, it for sure wouldn't have been as infuriating to see him hitting 4th.


full article here

Edited by TroutBaseball
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Sam obviously didn't watch Pujols last 5 years with the Angels. That said, had they started platooning him back then his batting average would have survived better but he never would have passed Mays, let alone Rodriguez on the home run leaderboard. The Angels did him a favor letting him swing for the fences and then get thrown out on those outfield grounders. From 2017-2021 Pujols hit .241/.290/.410/.700, 87 OPS+ even factoring his 200 plate appearances with the Dodgers. There is no lipstick you can put on that pig that makes his career numbers with the Angels acceptable by blaming the shift. 

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