Tag Archives: Albert Pujols

Adding To His Cooperstown Resume

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As the 2017 Major League Baseball season is in its infant stage, it is clear that Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Albert Pujols is no longer the player that he once was. Pujols is 37-years of age and through 14 games he is batting .204 with a pair of home runs and 11 runs batted in. And as Pujols is in the twilight of his career being that he is no longer an MVP candidate, or in the running to hit .300, it is not stopping him from closing in on making some history.

With 593 career home runs, Pujols is closing in on becoming just the ninth player in Major League Baseball history to hit 600 career home runs and only the second Dominican-born player to do so. Pujols has 603 career doubles and by season’s end he could be in the top ten of that category. Pujols is currently 19th all-time in runs batted in with 1,928 as he is 4 away from surpassing Manny Ramirez for 18th place. And just like it is in regards to doubles, Pujols could be in the top ten of runs batted in by the end of the season. With 2,836 career hits, Pujols could flirt with reaching that magical milestone of 3,000 hits. But if and when Pujols is able reach 3,000 hits and 600 home runs, he would join Hank Aaron, Alex Rodriguez, and Willie Mays as the only players in MLB history to do so.

When you think of Pujols one of the first words that comes to mind is fear. Ever since Pujols made his debut with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2001, he has done nothing but strike fear into the hearts of opponents. Pujols won the National League’s Rookie of the Year Award in 2001 as he batted .329 with 37 homers and 130 runs batted in. Pujols followed that up by winning three NL MVP Awards while donning a Cardinals uniform, along with leading the league in homers twice, taking home a batting title, and we cannot overlook him helping St. Louis win a pair of World Series Championships. In each of Pujols’ first ten Major League Baseball seasons he hit at least 32 home runs runs and driving 103 home runs as when he reaches the 600-homer mark later this season, he’ll join Aaron as the only two men to reach the mark, but never hit 50 home runs in a season which has made him the model of consistency in the modern game.

Pujols has not hit too many home runs of the cheap variety as they are typically of the tape measure variety. Some of Pujols classic moments at the plate include his massive shot off of Houston Astros relief pitcher Brad Lidge during the 2005 National League Championship Series, and his three homer performance in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series as he became the first player since Reggie Jackson in 1977 to do so. However Pujols has not been your prototypical power hitter being that he has never struck out 100 times or more in a season, while he is also a career .309 hitter.

Pujols’ time with the Angels have seen his production dip which includes him no longer being an everyday first baseman as injuries to his feet have slowed him down. But that hasn’t prevented Pujols from passing his professionalism and knowledge of the game to Angels outfielder Mike Trout who himself is already a two-time American League MVP and at the age of 25 is already being compared to baseball greats such as Mickey Mantle.

However for Pujols, he is capping off stellar resume that will see him one day enshrined in Cooperstown at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Currently Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez are the only Dominican-born players that are in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but that will be changing in the coming years with the likes of Vladimir Guerrero and David Ortiz on the cusp of it, and Mr. Pujols isn’t that far behind them.

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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Here Come The Angels

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It took the Los Angeles Angels some time to get on track this Major League Baseball season. The Angels won 98 games last season en route to winning their first American League Western Division Title since 2009. The Angels were expected to do big things in the playoffs last October, but in the American League Divisional Series, they were swept by the eventual AL Champion in the Kansas City Royals. As a result the Angels came into this year with a bit of a hangover from that along with personnel issues that sidetracked them.

The Angels had signed outfielder Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million deal prior to the 2013 MLB season. But Hamilton never came close to being the player that was the American League MVP in 2010 as a member of the Texas Rangers. Hamilton had relapses with drug and alcohol abuse which led to the Angels trading him to the Rangers this past April. Jerry Dipoto was named as the Angels general manager in 2011. But Dipoto inherited manager Mike Scioscia who has been with the club since 2000. Dipoto and Scioscia were never on the same page as their baseball philosophies were totally different and their rift negatively affected the Angels team. And on July 1, Dipota resigned from his post with the Angels as it finally appears to be all systems go for this team.

On June 26, the Angels were 37-37, but since then they are 17-4 including winning their last seven of their last eight games. In late June, the Angels were tied for second place in the AL West as they were trailing the first place Houston Astros in the division by five games. But with the Angels improved play along with the recent struggles of the Astros, Los Angeles has turned that five-game deficit in the AL West into a one-game lead and by the looks of things, they don’t appear ready to slow down.

Mike Trout

Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the reigning American League MVP and he is in the running to once again win the award. Trout is currently batting .303 with a .395 on-base percentage to go along with 28 home runs and 57 runs batted in as he is one of the most exciting players in baseball. The Angels lineup has also be helped out by the resurgence of first baseman Albert Pujols. Pujols joined the Angels in 2012 after being a three-time National League MVP with the St. Louis Cardinals. Pujols is now 35-years of age and whereas he may no longer be a .300 hitter, he still has plenty of thunder in his bat as his 29 home runs lead Major League Baseball this year.

Aside from Trout and Pujols, the Angels are getting contributions in their lineup from the likes of shortstop Erick Aybar who has an on-base percentage this season of .322 and outfielder Kole Calhoun who is coming into his own offensively and defensively.

Garrett Richards

Pitching wise the Angels team earned run average of 3.46 is second in the American League and they have more depth in their starting rotation this year. Last season starting pitcher Garrett Richards was cruising along for the Angels with a record of 13-4 until a crippling knee injury ended his run. But Richards has returned healthy this year for the Angels and he is currently sporting a record of 10-7 with a 3.25 earned run average. In 18 starts this season, starting pitcher Hector Santiago has posted a 7-4 record with a 2.30 earned run average as he earned his first appearance in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game earlier this month. Relief pitcher Huston Street has been one of the top closers of this era. The Angels acquired Street from the San Diego Padres last season and he continues to be a dominant closer as he picked up the 300th save of his MLB career this past Wednesday night against the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles will need him coming down the stretch of the regular season if they want to entertain a legitimate shot at the playoffs.

And now that the Angels have dusted themselves off of the canvas, they can become buyer’s with the MLB trade deadline rapidly approaching next Friday. The Angels could be in line to acquire another arm for their starting rotation; especially since the Astros were able to make a trade with the Oakland Athletics to get starting pitcher Scott Kazmir yesterday. And as far as the Angels go, you’ll here the names of Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, Detroit Tigers starting pitcher David Price, and Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels as potential trade targets. The Angels could also be in line for another bat and the names of Oakland Athletics utility man Ben Zobrist, Miami Marlins utility man Martin Prado, and Reds outfielder Jay Bruce could be floated around as Los Angeles could be ready to make another World Series push.

Mike Scioscia, Arte Moreno

Angels owner Arte Moreno believes in Scioscia as he is the only manager in franchise history to win a World Series Championship and his old-school approach is still effective. The players on the Angels have rallied around Scioscia and there is no longer a contrast in styles and philosophies between he and Dipoto. The Angels are rolling right now and their next three series could tell the tale of where this team is headed. The Angels host the Rangers this weekend which will be followed by a three-game road series against the Astros that should be very intense. The Halos will then travel to meet the Los Angeles Dodgers and if they continue on the current pace that their on, the Angels could soon have a strangle hold on things in the American League West. The 2015 version of the Angels are proving that it isn’t how you start, but more about how you finish.

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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The Angels Are Back

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Mike Trout

Mike Trout

From 2002-2009 the Los Angeles Angels were perennial contenders. The Angels won their first and only World Series Championship in 2002 while also winning the American League West five times over that stretch. The Angels went 80-82 in 2010 before going 86-76 in 2011. After two sub par seasons the Angels dipped into free agency with an eye on returning to the postseason. After their 86-win season in 2011, the Angels signed first baseman Albert Pujols to a 10-year, $254 contract. Pujols’s presence wasn’t enough to get the Angels to the postseason in 2012 as they finished with a record of 89-73. The Angels would go to the free agency well once more after the 2012 Major League Baseball season and this time they came up with outfielder Josh Hamilton who they signed to a five-year deal for $125 million. What that Angels got last season was 78 only wins for their troubles.

The Oakland Athletics entered this season as the two-time defending AL West Champs and they were once again expected to be the team to beat.  The A’s have been in first place in the division for the majority of the season, but the Angels are making sure that if they are able to make it a three-peat that it won’t a cakewalk for their neighbors from Northern California.

The Angels currently have a record of 51-36 and they are only 3.5 games behind the Athletics for first place. The Angels also currently own the top Wild Card spot in the American League.

Under manager Mike Scioscia, the Angels are at their best when they are paying attention to the fundamentals of the game. The Angels have gotten back to that this season which is why they are on pace to win more than 90 games for the first time since 2009. Defensively the Angels have only committed 42 errors which is second in the AL for the fewest errors. Offensively the Angels are tied for first in the American League in on-base percentage (.331), second in hits (798), and runs (426), while they’re third in team batting average at .265.

When you talk about the Angels offense it starts and ends with outfielder Mike Trout. Trout is only in his third Major League season and he has already become the face of the Angels franchise. This season Trout’s .308 batting average is 8th in the AL while his 20 homers and 63 runs batted in are both fifth. For his brief career Trout has a .403 career on-base percentage and he is the running this season to become the first Angels player since Vladimir Guerrero in 2004 to be selected as the American League’s MVP. Trout capped off his stellar first half of the 2014 MLB season by being voted by baseball fans to his third consecutive AL All-Star team.

Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols

In Pujols’ first season with the Angels he hit a career low 30 home runs while also failing to go yard in the first month of the season. Last year injuries got the best of Pujols as he only appeared in 99 games. Pujols would only hit 17 home runs with just 64 runs batted in for 2013. This season Pujols has been determined to put his and the Angels disappointments of the past two seasons behind him. This year Pujols has played in 84 of the 87 Angel games. So far this season Pujols has 19 home runs and 55 runs batted in as he is providing some much needed protection for Trout in the Angels lineup.

Like Pujols, Hamilton came into this season looking for a fresh start with the Angels. Hamilton spent the majority of 2013 trying to find his groove at the plate as he finished the season batting .250 with 21 home runs and 79 runs batted in. This was a far cry from Hamilton’s 2012 season with the Texas Rangers where he batted .285 with 43 homers and 128 runs batted in. Hamilton got off to a good start this season as through the first eight games he was batting .444 with 2 home runs and 6 runs batted in. But that changed on April 8 when Hamilton slid head first into first base and suffered a thumb injury which would keep him out of action until June 3. For the season Hamilton is batting .301 with a .459 slugging percentage and he will be vital to the Angels playoff push in the second half of the season.

As far as team earned run average in the AL this season, the Angels are in the middle of the pack, but their starting rotation isn’t just about Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. Starting pitcher Garrett Richards was a first round pick of the Angels in 2009 and he quickly asserted himself in their system. This season Richards is 10-2 with 119 strikeouts and a 2.71 earned run average.

Mike Scioscia

Mike Scioscia

Since May 9 the Angels are 35-19 and they have the look of a playoff team. But all is not a bed of roses for Scioscia’s club. The Angels bullpen has 12 blown saves this season which led to relief pitcher Ernesto Frieri being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for relief pitcher Jason Grilli who had his own struggles before coming to Southern California. Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto is not resting on his laurels as he recently acquired left-handed relief pitcher Joe Thatcher from the Arizona Diamondbacks. When you’re looking to get into the postseason like the Angels currently are you need as many quality arms in the bullpen as possible. For his eight-year MLB career Thatcher has an earned run average of 3.26 and he also has the ability get out left-handed and right-handed batters.

Last season the Houston Astros were a thorn in the side of the Angels. But this past weekend the Angels completed a four-game series sweep of the Astros. The Angels are finishing up the first half of the season at home against the suddenly slumping Toronto Blue Jays before traveling to take on the struggling Rangers. This is an opportunity for the Halos to continue to get fat in the win column as the second half of the season will be a bit tougher. The Angels will finish the month of July with games against the Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, and Detroit Tigers who are all in postseason contention. But this is a step in the right direction for the Angels as at this point last season they were simply a team that was in disarray.

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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