Albert Pujols’ running can be painful to watch; lately his batting average has been suffering too. (Associated Press photo)
A visiting beat writer at Sunday’s game watched one of Albert Pujols‘ three strikeouts and marveled at what he saw. The swing-and-miss at strike three, down and away, simply wasn’t the same Pujols. In fact, it looked a little like Josh Hamilton did earlier this month.
Hamilton seems to be coming around, as I wrote in my game story yesterday. Pujols, who is batting .198 since April 21, does not.
Writes Joe Posnanski: “After years of being the best player in baseball, Pujols is now sort of beside the point.”
Mike Scioscia said something interesting after the game. I asked him if the Angels’ patience at the plate (they walked twice with the bases loaded and Hamilton averaged five pitches per at-bat) was evidence of a team that isn’t pressing as much, something Scioscia reprimanded his team for a couple nights earlier. His answer:
“I think we’re seeing some guys maybe use the whole field. As you try to get simpler, get more comfortable in the game, the things you talk about show up — you see the guys get in deeper counts, get a pitch, take a walk, hit the ball the other way, get better pitches to hit. Those things start to go in a positive direction. Hopefully he’ll keep taking strides toward it.”
Wait, who’s “he”?
I didn’t ask that because I didn’t catch Scioscia’s choice of pronouns until I listened to my tape after the game. But it isn’t hard to figure out — it’s Hamilton, who was hitting line drives to the opposite field, taking a walk, and going deeper into counts as if he was Mike Trout. Pujols was not.
For Pujols’ legacy, sure, we’re witnessing a turning point. As a key to the Angels’ success, it remains to be seen how long they can survive Pujols’ slump.
Some bullet points for a Monday morning: