Bounce Back or Bust: Will Albert Pujols Be A Viable Option In 2018?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

He’s going to be 38-years old at the start of the 2018 campaign and injuries have clearly played a role in his falloff.  He was a shell of his former self in 2017, putting up less than stellar numbers across the board:

593 At Bats
.241 Batting Average (143 Hits)
23 Home Runs
101 RBI
53 Runs
3 Stolen Bases
.286 On Base Percentage
.386 Slugging Percentage
.249 Batting Average on Balls in Play

He was still capable of driving in runs, but that’s due to maintaining his spot in the middle of the order as opposed to anything else.  There’s nothing in the production that would make us think he can come remotely close to that if the Angels opt to move him down in the batting order.

How likely that is will be determined by their offseason plans, but it’s an easy situation to imagine.  Pujols has now hit below .245 in two of the past three seasons as he’s consistently struggled to post an impressive line drive rate.  In fact his 18.5% mark in ’17 was his best since 2014 and he hasn’t topped 20% since 2008.  With little foot speed and a 10.9% popup rate, the formula for a strong average simply isn’t there even with a good strikeout rate.

There’s of course a chance that the strikeouts continue to rise as he could be losing a bit of his bat speed.  He posted a 14.6% strikeout rate in ’17, the worst mark of his career.  If that were to further regress his average could get downright ugly.

Pujols’ power has also been on the downturn over the past few seasons (HR/FB):

  • 2015 – 17.8%
  • 2016 – 15.0%
  • 2017 – 12.0%

That further hurts both his average and RBI potential, making a .230/20/75 line a realistic possibility.

Having only played 6 games at first base in ’17, it’s possible that he’s only “U” eligible in your league.  That makes it that much worse, as his upside is limited at best and there’s a good chance he posts a forgettable line.  Even with 1B eligibility he’d be a borderline option, at best, but without it he’s a complete hands-off option.  It’s been a great career for Pujols, but for most he’s going to be more name than actual value in 2018.

Source – Fangraphs

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  1. Milo says:

    Albert can barely run anymore. I can imagine Angels eating big portion of his contract someday.

  2. chris says:

    he is still owed 4/117. My hope is that he renegotiates and gets a massive buy out, as that contract is sucking the life from the best years of Trout. They get Hamilton’s contract off the books. Ditto with Escobar and Nolasco. That’s a good amount of $ they can invest in some high-upside position players looking for bounce backs (like Carlos Gomez or Carlos Gonzalez on a cheap 2 year deal) and a bunch of pitching (Chatwood, Hector Santiago and Lance Lynn). If Pujols came off the books, they’d be able to fully use some of those resources for other guys.

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