Even in a shortened season, Albert Pujols still couldn’t really get things going at the plate. Though he appeared in only 39 games, the veteran saw career-lows across the board.
His average (.224), on-base percentage (.270), OPS (.665) and OPS+ (80) were all the lowest they’ve ever been. He hit only six homers and drove in 25 runs, which would have been on pace to be around the worst of his career as well. In addition to that, his 15.3 strikeout percentage was the highest of his career and his 5.5 walk percentage was the lowest of his career.
Though he’s getting up there in age, Pujols still spent a solid amount of time at first base. He played 26 games at the position in 2020. With Jared Walsh emerging as a potential star in the making at first base, expect the percentage of games Pujols spends there to drop significantly in 2021.
Though you would think 20 years into his career, Pujols would have lost some passion for the game he once dominated more than anyone. Nope. Joe Maddon spoke of Pujols during the year, saying he still wants to be great.
“He and I have talked a lot. He’s constantly working. We have a strong line of communication. We’ll keep working on it. His desire is as great as it was 20 years ago. He hasn’t lost desire to do this. We’ll keep working with him.”
For Pujols, his first 15 games were truly rough. He was hitting below the mendoza line (.186) and his OPS was below .600. Though it still wasn’t the same production we’ve seen from him in years past, he was pretty decent to finish the season. He hit .247 with an OPS above .700 over his final 24 games of the season.
There was a three week stretch in which Pujols was heating up and looked to be turning his season around. From Aug. 30 through Sept. 18 he hit .286 with an OPS of just below .900. In just 12 starts, he hit three homers and drove in nine RBI.
For the future Hall of Famer, 2021 is the final year of his contract and very well could be his final year in an Angels uniform. Although he’s left a bit of a sour taste with this declining production, make sure to appreciate his greatness in 2021.
Stats: .224/.270/.395/.665, 6 HR, 25 RBI, 15 R, 80 OPS+
Game of the year
Pujols didn’t hit many home runs in 2020, but a few of them were pretty historic. On September 13, he hit this go-ahead home run in the eighth inning on the road. In addition to putting the Angels ahead, he also joined some pretty cool company. This homer was the 660th of his career, tying him with Hall of Famer Willie Mays.
Pujols has only one year remaining on his mega-contract. It’s almost over.