The Dodgers surprised just about everyone with the Albert Pujols acquisition this May, and so far we’ve been impressed. Not only is Pujols playing more than we initially thought he would, but he’s also having a better year than we thought he was.
- Pujols With the Dodgers
- Pujols in 2021
Pujols In LA
Pujols has managed 40 plate appearances in 12 games with the Dodgers so far. At first glance his line is pretty much the average Albert of years past, but when you consider how unlucky he has been already, we’re excited.
As of this article Pujols is hitting .237/.275/.526 with 3 homers, 2 doubles, and 10 RBI. Some of which were game winners. A couple nights ago he was robbed of what would’ve been his first walk off homer as a Dodger.
And perhaps the most useful line from Pujols so far, is how he’s hitting with runners in scoring position. 12 of his 40 at bats have been with RISP and he has flourished with a .364/.417/.455. Yet, only 4 of his 10 RBI have come from those at bats thanks to his 3, two-run homers.
He also seems to be enjoying his new stadium as he’s slashing .292/.346/.750 in the Ravine. All in all, he has an OPS+ of 119 with the Dodgers vs the 69 OPS+ he hit for the Angels this year.
Defensively, he’s handling himself well as a first baseman regularly again. He’s perfect so far with a 1.000 fielding % and seems to be motivated to go the extra mile again for a playoff team. Still, his range is abysmal leading to a -1 OAA and a -9% success rate compared to the expected rate.
And of course the intangible aspect of having this Hall Of Famer walking around the LA dugout for a league minimum deal is just absolutely ridiculous. He’s not going anywhere and looks poised for some big PA’s for the first time since St. Louis. (Speaking of, we’re very much looking forward to his return the STL for at least one last series.
Pujols Overall in 2021
Albert seems to have some extra life in his age 41 season. And in year 21 of the MLB he’s slashing about a league average .210/.258/.419. However, his expected stats have Pujols as being much better at .260/.378/.493. An OPS of about 200 points more than his actual production. Granted, his speed (or lack of) definitely contributes to his underperformance, but there are other signs of a late career resurgence.
Pujols has his highest average exit velocity since 2016 where he was in the top 8% of the league and hit a much more useful .268/.323/.457. It’s the same for his max EV, sweet spot %, and hard hit % each season as well. His barrel % is higher than it has ever been in the statcast era. Meanwhile his launch angle is at a good fly ball/line drive rate of 15.4 degrees.
It does help that he’s playing mostly against lefties at this point where he still hits in the high 200’s against. For the Dodgers, he has a slash against lefties of .381/.409/.762 which is absolutely elite for his role. He’s below the Mendoza line against righties at this point in his career. Again, he’s slashing just .059/.111/.235 against same handed pitchers with the Dodgers so far.
He’s also picking off fastballs this year at an expected line of .295/.342/.487. As a result he’s seeing fastballs just half the time, but he’s waiting for his pitch averaging about 4 pitches an at bat with the Dodgers so far.
Slowly but surely, Pujols is starting to see a lot of red on his statcast again. He’ll never be the MVP he was again, but Pujols looks like he wants to give Nelson Cruz a run for his money as best player over 40.