April 25, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (5) reacts in the dugout after he struck out in the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
I recently changed jobs. My job is pretty easy, the type of work where you can pull a guy off the street and within a couple of weeks he'd be doing fine. While doing this job, the company I work for likes to track a person's production as they do the task assigned. Typically, my production is in the 120-130% range, in other words, I'm the Albert Pujols of my department, but after working in my previous department for a little over a year, I changed jobs.
Actually, I didn't change job, but rather I changed the department in which I did my job. The different departments within my company work various hours in order to avoid having too many people working at one time and running into each other. The situation at home had changed for me, so I needed to shift my hours a bit. I now do the exact same job, just in a different area.
Anyway, as I mentioned, the company I work for tracks our production and we get a weekly update of how we are doing. After I had changed departments, to my surprise my production had dropped. I was still earning my paycheck, but my production had fallen into the 100-110% range. Although I was still doing the exact same tasks, the change in environment must have had an effect on my production, as that was the only variable that had changed. After a just a couple of weeks, my production returned to its Pujols levels and everything was back to normal. All it took was getting accustomed to my new environment and work space.
Imagine you're standing in your kitchen getting ready to eat a fat, juicy burger, but you realize you forgot the ketchup. You step back, open the refrigerator door, and without looking reach into the frig and pull out the bottle. The next week you're at a friend's house and he asks you to grab the ketchup. That's a whole new routine-is it on the bottom shelf or top? Left side or right? It's such a small thing, but it changes the entire process. Or one of your co-workers asks you to hand her the stapler. "Here you go", you say as you grab it without looking. Could you do that if you were sitting at someone else's desk?
What does this have to do with baseball or the Angels? My tasks are mindless; anyone can do them with little effort and can maintain an acceptable level of performance. Make a little change and eventually things return to normal. Can you imagine if my tasks were difficult? How much do minor changes have on tasks that require world-class skill?
This is why I feel Albert Pujols will return to the player he was in St. Louis. He has had changes in the normal, daily routine that he does. And I'm not talking about the change of league and having to face new pitchers, but rather the little things that he does every day. Where's does his batting helmet go? It's now 35 steps to his locker instead of 20. What time is batting practice? The batting cages are now to his left instead of to his right. Where's the ketchup?