Much can be said about the start Albert Pujols has had to the 2014 season as he is among the league leaders in many offensive categories.
For most Los Angeles Angels fans, it has been a long time coming. It has taken Pujols three seasons to produce like the player the team thought they were getting when he signed in December of 2011. Looking back on the deal, it is hard to believe that any player can live up to that type of monstrous contract, especially someone who was 32 and who had shown some signs of decline.
Although Pujols struggled to meet expectations through his first two seasons, it has been a redeeming 2014 season, where the 13-year veteran has shown that he can still be one of the league’s most feared hitters.
Yes, his batting average continues to remain below .300, but he is fourth in the majors in home runs (14), 11th in RBIs (31), sixth in slugging percentage (.540), seventh in runs scored (33), fourth in total bases (109) and second in extra-base hits (27). He has also managed to keep his strikeouts down for the most part as he has just 26 in 202 plate appearances.
Pujols is having a remarkable year in terms of power as he is on pace to hit 44 home runs with 98 RBIs for the entire season, and has knocked one out of the ballpark every 14.4 at-bats, which is his highest average since the 2010 season where he hit a homer every 14.0 at-bats. This quite a difference from last year, where had 17 home runs through 99 games prior to suffering his foot injury.
This type of production from the three-time NL MVP is what the Angels’ offense needs, especially given the absence of Josh Hamilton, who has been out since April 9 due to a torn ligament in his left thumb. Pujols has also helped fill the gap opened due to the lack of production David Freese, who is batting .211 with three home runs to along with 14 RBIs and 32 strikeouts in 30 games played. Raul Ibanez, who is batting a meager .156 with three home runs, has struggled as well.
With Pujols and Mike Trout at the forefront, the Angels’ offense has ranked among the top 10 in several offensive categories. Pujols has not only proven this season that he is still one of the league’s best hitters, but also that he can still be relied upon to lead his team in his 14th year in the league.