You may think Albert Pujols is old. You may think he’s a shadow of the hitter he once was. You may think he is way overpaid. I’m here to tell you that the Angels NEED him. And they need him bad. Pujols helps win games. He gives protection to Trout because when Trout is on base - Pujols is good. In fact, Pujols is great in general with runners in scoring position, and when it matters.
First, let’s look at what Pujols does with runners in scoring position (so far this year):
Albert Pujols RISP (2017)
Pujols is also REALLY good with RISP and there are 2 outs. This is the guy you want up in tough situations:
Albert Pujols, 2 out, RISP (2017)
Speaking of tough situations, Pujols gets BETTER as the situations get harder. Take a look at his low, medium, and high leverage stats. Can’t we just tell Pujols to pretend he’s always in a high leverage situations? It’s like when the pressure is turned up, this guy is cool. He knows what to do when it really matters but early in the game with a lead? He may not do so well.
Albert Pujols Leverage (2017)
Lest you think this is just a factor of a small sample size, keep in mind that in 2016, Pujols hit .325/.398/.565 in tie games and .298/.348/.476 in Late & Close games. He also had a RISP line in 2016 of .309/.389/.509.
Sure Pujols isn’t hitting .300+ anymore in general, but he is STILL a dangerous hitter that the Angels badly need in the lineup. Just take a look at home many times the Mets walked Mike Trout when Pujols wasn’t hitting behind him.
Pujols is earning his money but in a different way than when he did with the Cardinals. He’s mentoring young players, he’s a leadership presence in the clubhouse, and he’s a force to be reckoned with when it really matters
Next time Pujols strikes out or hits a weak grounder early in a game, just remember what this dude does when the team really needs him - because it’s pretty awesome.