A bust. Worst contract ever signed. Washed up. These are just some of the whispers heard about Albert Pujols as the 2014 season began. Many questioned whether his storied career was over, but through the season’s first month Pujols has proved that he can still be a machine.
When Albert Pujols first hit free agency after the 2011 season, he was the most coveted player on the planet. As a Cardinal he had slugged 455 homeruns, and complied a .328 career batting average. He was a nine time all-star, six time Silver Slugger, a Gold Glove first-baseman, and a three time MVP. Nobody was better.
But, then quickly after signing his contract with the Angels, everything began to slide. Pujols began the 2012 season at a snail’s pace. He batted .217 through April, and did not hit a homerun until May 6th. Although he batted .285 with 30 homeruns by season’s end, it was a un-Pujols like season. These numbers were the lowest output of his career.
The next season, things got even worse for the Angels and Pujols. Pujols batted .258 with 17 homeruns in just 99 games before an injury ended his season early. The dream combo of Pujols and Hamilton seemed punch-less compared to Mike Trout. This dreadful year caused many to question whether the Pujols contract was a mistake.
But this season Pujols has shown that he has plenty left in the tank. Through his first 20 games, Pujols has homered a league leading eight times, and is also slugging a league leading .619. His sweet swing looks back and as good as ever.
After smashing his 500th homerun, Pujols can now take aim at catching some of the game’s greatest sluggers. If he can stay relatively healthy through the final seven years of his contract, he could go down. His 500th homerun made a statement that he his back and he has the rest of the season to prove he not just a past great, but that he remains one of the best in the game today.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference