Like most of the greats, Albert Pujols isn’t ready for the end of his big league career. A simple look at his statistics — some advanced and others more basic — suggest he won’t have a choice in the matter.
Pujols’ Angels contract will be viewed as a letdown from the ballclub’s point of view, as they signed the then 32-year-old first baseman to a 10-year, $240 million deal. Over the accumulation of said contract, Pujols averaged a WAR of approximately .7 per year, made only one All-Star team and failed to take his team to the postseason on a consistent basis.
By the end of Pujols’ Angels career, he was an anchor holding down the aspirations of the best player in baseball, and perhaps best in his era, Mike Trout. At 41 years old, does Pujols have any hope of receiving consistent playing time with a Major League team?
Albert Pujols could be signed for ceremonial reasons
Pujols is below MLB average in just about every statistical category. It’s rare that such an accomplished player would be viewed as a downgrade across the board, but a simple look at his FanGraphs page suggests that’s the case. In fact, he’s been hurting the Angels at the plate for quite some time.
His on-base percentage and walk percentage are below the league average, while he strikeout rate is up from his career averages. When Pujols does put the ball in play, it doesn’t work out to his advantage frequently enough. His batting average on balls in play, frequently a good barometer of barrel rate and, quite honestly, bad luck, is far below the league average at .176.
Per Bob Nightengale, the White Sox want nothing to do with Pujols despite his connection with Tony La Russa. The idea that Pujols could contribute to a winning ball-club is fading by the minute. His old stomping grounds in St. Louis have little use for him as the designated hitter is still not employed in the National League.
For a losing team in the American League, signing Pujols to a cheap one-year deal to draw fans in the DH spot might make some sense. He’s a baseball legend, and if he wants to go out on his own terms, should not be forced to do so waiting around in free agency.