Just last week, Albert Pujols reached a major milestone in his career, becoming just the 4th player ever to reach 6000 total bases. When the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Pujols, many people were confused as to why such a star-studded lineup would sign the aging star who had not batted over .250 since 2016. Especially since he had moved into a DH role with the crosstown LA Angels, it would have made more sense for an American League team to sign him.
Pujols drowned out all of the criticism and has embraced his role as a pinch hitter and first baseman.
Where is Albert Pujols’ Success Coming From?
This is a man who has not appeared in the playoffs since 2014. Pujols just joined the reigning world champs and is playing for a purpose.
He has players succeeding around him, and he is not a “star” of the team anymore. I think Pujols likes the role he has slid into. He lives for big moments, and being able to pinch-hit in important spots is what is driving his success.
Since joining the Dodgers, Pujols is batting .275 with 8 home runs in just 109 at-bats. That equates to a home run every 13.6 at-bats, which is his lowest since 2009. Pujols has found success in this lineup in a big way.
He also has a .310 on-base percentage which he also has not topped since 2016.
Will It Continue?
I am going to say Pujols’ success will continue. In such a long season, limiting a guy like Pujols, who is still driven to situational at-bats and limited starts it will keep him focused during each and every chance he gets at the plate.
For such a superstar like Pujols completing his quest for another ring is going to keep him grinding away. His swing looks much smoother, and he sees pitches much better. He is also improving his directional hitting. 18 percent of his batted balls have been hit to the opposite field. He has not had a higher percentage since 2003.
Why Pujols Fits With The Dodgers
When this move was first made, I heard nothing but complaints and confusion. Many people said Pujols only was signed to boost ticket and jersey sales as if the Dodgers needed help with that. I did not mind the move, but at first, I did think it would have made more sense for Albert to play in the AL for DH purposes.
Pujols and the Dodgers have proven all the doubters wrong. If the Dodgers were to make it to the World Series, Pujols is the perfect guy to DH. Throughout the playoffs, when pinch-hitting is needed, Pujols is your guy.
Los Angeles now has so many versatile players like Max Muncy who can move over to second base. The Dodgers have the luxury of being able to ride the hot hand. It is certainly not a bad problem to have with the endless amounts of talent on this roster.
The Dodgers wowed everybody by making this move, and so far, it has worked out well. Pujols is hitting like he is in his prime, and the Dodgers are poised to make a run at the title again.