Is It Time To Hit the Panic Button on Albert Pujols?

May 3, 2011

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Albert Pujols is hitting .241. He has seven home runs, but his slugging percentage is at .438. He has just one double on the year. He is dealing with a minor hamstring strain and the weight of the contract issue could be weighing on his mind. Not exactly the kind of start that justifies asking for gobs of cash.
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While  Phat Albert is struggling, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman are raking. Pujols has an OPS of .747 while Berkman leads the club at 1.249 and Holliday check in at 1.1137. Even Colby Rasmus (.859) and David Freese (.865 before he went down) were higher.
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Is the machine broken for good? I wouldn’t go that for. He is still only 31 with a lot of baseball ahead of him. Pujols is so consistent that any dip in production is unsettling. Only twice in his ten-year career has his OPS dipped below 1.000. Even then it was .955 and .997. He always hits 30+ HR and drives in 100+ runs. Only twice has he hit below .327 and they were .314 and .312.
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If you look at his career production from month to month, it’s even more consistent.
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April:  1.060 OPS
May:  1.008
June:  1.049
July:  1.006
August:  1.099
September :  1.059
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Even as consistent as Phat Albert is, he is noticeably better in the second half of the season. Before the All-Star Break Albert hits .322 with a 1.029 OPS. After the break he hits .339 with a 1.063 OPS.
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Historically speaking, Albert’s best days of the season have yet to come. Not to mention that common sense says Pujols isn’t going to continue to struggle for long, especially when his compadres are producing.
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Albert has been through slumps before. He hit .267 last July before torching the league by hitting .379 with 11 homer runs and 23 RBI in August.
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If you own Albert, don’t do anything rash. You aren’t going to get fair trade value for him now. You just have to ride it out. Just stay the course and Mr. Consistent will start hitting like he always does. His BABIP is a mere .213, which is 100 points lower than his career mark. His luck and  his health will improve and he’ll be one of the best in the game in no time.
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You can try to buy low on him, but your leaguemate should see that coming a mile away.
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