Is Pujols finally ‘locked in’? …

OK, so the Angels have won three in a row for the third time this season, moving to 6 1/2 games back of the idle Rangers and, for just the eighth day this season, moving out of the cellar in the American League West.

The starting pitching has been great for most of the year (3.31 ERA, four complete games and 32 quality starts after Dan Haren‘s masterpiece), and the bullpen has been outstanding recently (three earned runs in the last 26 1/3 innings, dropping the collective ERA from 4.70 to 3.81). It’s the offense that’s still playing a little catch-up.

Sure, many are under performing there. Howie Kendrick is hitting .250 with 41 strikeouts; Erick Aybar has a .247 on-base percentage; Kendrys Morales‘ OPS is .730; Angels catchers are collectively hitting .199; Peter Bourjos (.200 batting average), Maicer Izturis (.242) and Alberto Callaspo (.231) have been about as inconsistent as their playing time; and the Angels still rank 13th in the AL in runs. But it’s all about Albert Pujols. It’s Pujols (.225/.268/.357, five homers, 22 RBIs) who changes everything from the No. 3 spot if he’s truly “locked in,” as they say — the pitches guys in front of him get to hit, the amount of times those behind him hit with runners on base and, ultimately, the mindset of a lineup that won’t be taxed with doing too much if Albert gets going.

With that in mind, is he finally back to being the guy we’re all used to seeing?

It was hard not to think that after a three-hit night against the Mariners on Thursday, which saw him hit his 450th career homer and rip two singles to left field. It was the kind of night that made you think he’s finally feeling comfortable at the plate. But, we also thought that after his three-double game on April 19 (before he went 5-for-54 over his next 14 games), after he hit his first homer on May 6 (but then it took him nine games to hit another), and after hitting two homers to center field in as many days May 16 and 17 (until he went 3-for-his-next-16).

Is it different now?

Only time will tell, of course. But here are some signs things might be turning in his favor, beyond Thursday’s line score …

  • 4 homers, 10 RBIs over his last 10 games (which averages out to 65 HRs and 162 RBIs over 162, if you care)
  • 18 RBIs in 22 May games, after just 4 in 23 April games (he’s currently on pace for 77)
  • 16-for-52 (.308 batting average) since May 12.
  • And since the end of April, the percentage of pitches Pujols has swung at outside the strike zone has gone from 40.3 to 35.2 (still a career high, but better)

That’s the big change Pujols will tell you he’s made.

“I was probably expanding the strike zone a little bit more if you look at it, and my walks can tell you everything,” Pujols said when asked about the amount of balls he’s pulled to left field. “Probably that. I’m not going to lie, because there’s 40,000 people watching you and there’s millions of people on TV watching you. I expanded the strike zone, which I’m not doing right now. Right now, I’m putting good swings.”

Alden

9 Comments

He’s still 35 and going down hill………..ha!!!!!!

Jealous?

Like him or not Transition Tony get’s the most out of his players or he gets rid of them. That is ralley the key, when a player gives you good numbers but has a character flaw that holds him back from reaching his potential. I know as Cub fans we have a few players that we wish the organization had that kind of forsight on. Transition Tony seems to have an ability to recognize these flawed players and get rid of them. I do agree this makes it easier for Pujol’s to leave town. Transition Tony is another great Italian manager like him or not, maybe the White Sox should of kept him around.

Perhaps you could paint yourself all corlos of the Big 12 you would certainly stand out on press row I’m sure the HoopScoopers would provide the paint

Get your facts straight, Albert is 32.

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We should accept the bad if we accept the good. I am an Angels Fan win or lose but like all true fans I want the Halo’s to win and definitely expect Pujols to produce ” Salary ” to the side.
These are professionals not Little Leaguers who are guaranteed to play 6 outs and bat once. This is their job. I have faith that Albert is going to do his thing along with all the others who are not playing like we want them too or like they we know they can.
Never the less, God Bless our Team, keep them safe and healthy.

Russell Guaydacan

Pingback: Game 47: Angels-Mariners … « Gonzo and 'The Show'

1 Pass on the talented 1b men. Look at the last 2 year WS wirnens. Not teams of stars, just a few stars and a boatload of role players. Therefore the difference between a WS winner and everyone but the Astros is not much. Why not spin the wheel and see what happens. But, both of these guys are going to get salaries that are too far out of proportion to their useful baseball lives. Monitor, but don’t pull another Soriano deal.2 I think Z will be a Cub this next year, and it will on balance be a positive thing.3 Girls who know sports. I agree with raker they are mostly a great bonus. My wife is also not too sports literate, but that’s ok too, The one thing that really does go thru a guys mind is not what a girl might think. I have known several well informed females in the sporting light who shared many of my interests. The one that becomes a stumbling block is liking other girls as much I do.

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