Now that the smoke has cleared, the Cardinals must reset Albert Pujols’ expectations
It’s safe for the St. Louis Cardinals to change their expectations for Albert Pujols now that the excitement has died down.
The St. Louis Cardinals can safely reset their expectations of Albert Pujols now that the excitement has died down.
It’s safe to say that when Albert Pujols returned to the St. Louis Cardinals, fans had no idea what to expect.
He wouldn’t be the same player who left the organization in 2011 to sign a 10-year, multimillion-dollar contract with the Los Angeles Angels.
Would it be a disaster if top prospects like Juan Yepez and Nolan Gorman were held back? Or would it turn out to be even better than anyone could have imagined?
So far, it’s turned out to be better than anyone could have imagined.
According to Fangraphs, Pujols is hitting.333/.412/.733 with a +220 wRC.
He’s had 17 plate appearances in four games, including five hits and two monster home runs. He now has 681 home runs in his career.
The 681st home run was hit against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday afternoon:
Albert Pujols has exceeded all expectations for the Cardinals
When the Cardinals have faced left-handed pitching, he has served as the designated hitter. Manager Oliver Marmol, on the other hand, has stated that who plays in a game is entirely dependent on match-ups.
This suggests that if the matchup against a right-handed pitcher indicated Pujols would be successful, Marmol would not hesitate to put him in the designated hitter role.
Many of the records he could break appear to be within reach at his current rate of hitting. Plus, there are a few stadiums where you just want to see Pujols hit a home run.
And, based on Pujols’ hitting performance in the first two weeks of the season, you have to believe he’ll get those opportunities.
Although Pujols has only appeared in four games in 2022, these records all appear to be doable and then some.
Of course, for the time being.
Yes, Pujols isn’t the same player he was ten years ago. However, Albert Pujols is still Albert Pujols. He also appears to have lost a significant amount of weight during the offseason and is running better than many expected. He may be 42 years old, but he still has the competitive edge that has served him well over the course of his 22-year career.
He’s only 19 home runs away from reaching the 700-homer plateau. He’s 15 home runs shy of Alex Rodriguez’s 696.
Pujols is seven hits away from tying Eddie Collins for tenth place on the all-time hits list with 3,306 hits. With 6,053 total bases in his career, he is only 13 behind Willie Mays for third all-time.
Since his return to the Cardinals, the only questionable thing Pujols has done is get caught stealing third base. Pujols has previously been given permission to run if he sees an opening. Pujols was obviously confused by what he thought he saw.
It was, however, the first time he had been caught stealing a base since 2015. I doubt he’ll try it again unless he’s confident he won’t be caught.
Albert Pujols is older, to be sure. He did show up in great shape with the rest of the team. Returning to St. Louis and donning the Cardinals’ jersey appears to have revitalized him. All indications point to him performing better than anyone expected.
Although it is still early, Pujols’ numbers should be better than many expected.