Albert Pujols is the best hitter in baseball. Swallow the bile, and admit it with me. You’ll be better for it.
But even Pujols is not immune to struggles. Of course, his struggles are the kind of struggles most players would love to have as their regular performance. Still, when Pujols struggles even just a little bit, it is magnified because of his excellence – and he gets a little snippy.
May has not been a good month for the three-time NL MVP, who has one homer and 10 RBIs to go with a pedestrian .267 average.
On Friday, when Ryan Ludwick was caught stealing for the last out of the eighth inning with Pujols at the plate and the St, Louis Cardinals ahead by four runs, Pujols slammed his bat to the turf. He carried a mini-tantrum to the dugout where he and manager Tony La Russa had a brief exchange.
“It’s no big thing,” La Russa said Monday. “I’m upset it got reported, because those things happen in the dugout once or twice a week.”
Pujols admits he might be trying too hard to ignite an offense that’s been spotty all season whether he’s hitting ahead of or behind Matt Holliday, the other Cardinals’ star who’s had an even tougher time.
Pujols was 0 for 10 with two walks in a three-game interleague series against the Angels, and committed his first two errors of the season at first base. His contribution was in a supporting role, pulling off a double steal with Colby Rasmus to set up David Freese’s game-tying, two-run single in the eighth.
Pujols’ walks to strikeouts ratio is usually around 2-1, but not this year so far with 31 walks and 24 strikeouts, although he’s adamant he hasn’t expanded his strike zone. Instead, he believes it’s because at times he hasn’t seen the ball as well as in the past.
“I guess because I’m not hitting .350, that’s why you ask that question,” he said to a reporter. “I don’t think it’s fair to say I’m struggling when a guy’s hitting over .300.
“Obviously, I spoil you guys too much hitting .350 every month and hitting a bunch of home runs with a bunch of RBIs. Obviously it’s not where you want it 100 percent, but when you do feel 100 percent in this game ever?” ESPN.
Snap. Of course, this is a guy who’s still hitting over .300 with a .940 OPS, so I’m sure he’ll be ok. And if Pujols is going to go on a game-changing slump (a la Aramis Ramirez), maybe it would be better if he holds off until April 1, 2012 – after he’s been re-signed by the Cardinals to a record-shattering 10 year, $300 million deal.
Let’s just hope this mini “slump” carries forward for one more week – the Cubs face the Cardinals for the first time this weekend.
And let me just say for the record: I am shocked to learn that new hitting coach Mark McGwire has not instantaneously transformed the Cardinals into the greatest hitting team of all time.