The surprisingly slow start of Albert Pujols has been one of the bigger baseball stories so far this season, but perhaps it shouldn’t be so shocking. Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch recently took a look at some numbers dating back to 2009, and it’s possible we’re just seeing the continued decline of an aging hitter. Yes, as of today, Pujols still remains homer-free. On the bright side, there are only nine years remaining on his current deal.
For starters, over the last three seasons, his on-base percentage has seen a drop — .443, .414, .366 — along with decreasing slugging percentages of .658, .596, and .541. His walk rate has also seen a dip, a rather large one, dropping nearly in half since 2009 when it was at 16.4%. It has since fallen to 14.7% in 2010, and 9.4% last year. The list goes on, his chase rate has increased significantly, and he’s uncharacteristically pulling nearly everything. He’s a confused mess.
So while his output has been stunningly awful thus far — 0 home runs, 5 RBI, .547 OPS — what we’re seeing might just be more of the same downward trend that’s been taking place over the last handful of years. Sure, his numbers likely won’t remain so pedestrian, but don’t be surprised to see dips across the board when compared to his 2011 season. Glass half-empty? He went 0-for-4 last night. Glass half-full? He had an RBI!
Having said that, all of this will become moot when Pujols goes on a 28-game hitting streak that includes 16 home runs, countless RBIs, and his OPS jumps up 350 points. For now, we point and keep on pointing until things change.