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Angelsjunky

Pujols' Historic Decline Revisited

65 posts in this topic

I agree his decline is strongly related to his plate approach.  And I also suspect we're going to see a change there, interestingly enough.  Course it's not like he'll go back to being the old Pujols or anything but I do think he will have a better than (an Angels) average season this year.

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he got off to a very slow/ terrible start with us that first season in Anaheim and did not get turned  around until almost the second half of the season - by that time the Halos were pretty much out of the race playing meaningless games. He picked it up enough over the second half to have respectable stats on paper.

have not looked lately but his first five years stats looked OK (not great) on paper.  But once again, he didn't seem to have much offense when it mattered.

Now his biggest threat at the plate seems to be as a GIDP rally killer. 

And, yes, he'll be on our roster for 2019, 2020, 2021.  But hopefully not in the line up every day.

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15 hours ago, disarcina said:

he got off to a very slow/ terrible start with us that first season in Anaheim and did not get turned  around until almost the second half of the season - by that time the Halos were pretty much out of the race playing meaningless games. He picked it up enough over the second half to have respectable stats on paper.

have not looked lately but his first five years stats looked OK (not great) on paper.  But once again, he didn't seem to have much offense when it mattered.

Now his biggest threat at the plate seems to be as a GIDP rally killer. 

And, yes, he'll be on our roster for 2019, 2020, 2021.  But hopefully not in the line up every day.

He actually kicked butt from mid-May on in 2012, OPS of around .950 after mid-May.   That was the last that we saw of vintage Pujols. 

The Halos did stick around until the last week or so of the 2012 season, finishing just 4 games out of the 2nd WC spot with 89 wins.

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On 3/12/2019 at 11:06 AM, GrittyVeterans said:

I do wonder if his decline in taking walks is simply a result of his approach or a decline in his reaction times and ability to see/recognize balls and strikes

Youd think hed forget trying to hit for power, and focus on contact now. But hes so broke and slow now, he could hit singles to left field now and get thrown out at 1B.

His career spirit animal has basically been marlon brando.

 

373174cea9a5ce0655dbb60590726a0e--stop-eating-the-godfather.jpg

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14 minutes ago, ten ocho recon scout said:

Youd think hed forget trying to hit for power, and focus on contact now. But hes so broke and slow now, he could hit singles to left field now and get thrown out at 1B.

His career spirit animal has basically been marlon brando.

 

373174cea9a5ce0655dbb60590726a0e--stop-eating-the-godfather.jpg

Pujols had sex with Richard Pryor?

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15 minutes ago, ten ocho recon scout said:

Youd think hed forget trying to hit for power, and focus on contact now. But hes so broke and slow now, he could hit singles to left field now and get thrown out at 1B.

His career spirit animal has basically been marlon brando.

 

373174cea9a5ce0655dbb60590726a0e--stop-eating-the-godfather.jpg

I call those BBJ and ABJ: Before Ben & Jerry's and After Ben & Jerry's. 

Ben & Jerry's was founded in 1978 and went national in the 80s. Brando got fat in the 80s. Take that, Snopes.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/12/2019 at 2:06 PM, GrittyVeterans said:

I do wonder if his decline in taking walks is simply a result of his approach or a decline in his reaction times and ability to see/recognize balls and strikes

Biggest reason for the decline in walks is the lack of intentional passes he gets -- he was never this super patient Tim Salmon batting eye guy.   You also don't have to pitch him smart with the shift on -- nobody has been impacted more by the shift than AP -- Conversely, he's one of the guys that would have likely seen the biggest benefit (improvement) had MLB decided to limit shifts...

 

Edited by Inside Pitch

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On 3/7/2019 at 3:11 PM, Angelsjunky said:

In another thread there was some conversation about Albert Pujols' decline, and whether or not (or to what degree) it is historic, with names like Miguel Cabrera and Mo Vaughn cited. While this has been discussed to death, I thought I'd actually check out the stats. I've done this before, but not for a year or two, so consider this a bit of an update.

There are several ways to do this. Albert is a first baseman, which means his primary value is as a hitter - moreso than, say, a shortstop or centerfielder (as a general rule). So it may be that an offense-only stat like wRC+ is more meaningful than WAR.

So let's take a look at wRC+. First of all, here is a list of the top 30 hitters through age 31 via wRC+. Why age 31? That was Pujols' last year (2011) as a Cardinal, and also represents the down-turn in his career. 2010 was his last truly great year but at the time, 2011 looked like an off year rather than what it turned out to be: the beginning of his decline (technically 2010 was down from 2009, but he was so good in both years that it is hard to see it as decline).

As you can hopefully see (assuming the link works), Pujols has a wRC+ of 167 through age 31 which is good for #10, right between Johnny Mize and Frank Thomas (interestingly enough, neither Mize nor Thomas aged well). In other words, through age 31, Pujols was the 10th best hitter in major league history (Trout at 172 is 8th).

We all know he's been comparatively bad since then, but how bad? Well, from age 32 on, Pujols has a wRC+ of 110 - which is above average. In major league history  that is 380th all time. Similar players from 32 on include Yunel Escobar, Adam LaRoche, and Cecil Cooper.

To put that another way:

Through age 31: Pujols was one of the best hitters ever, comparable to Hall of Famers Johnny Mize and Frank Thomas through the same age.

From age 32 on: Pujols was an above average hitter, comparable to solid hitters like Yunel Escobar, Adam LaRoche, and Cecil Cooper.

OK, not so good but at least he's been above average as a hitter, right? What about other greats?

Going back to the original top 30 in wRC+ through age 31, here is that same list but from age 32 on. You might notice that there are only 27 players; this is because three of the original list either never (Joe Jackson) or has not yet (Mike Trout, Aaron Judge) played at age 32 and older.

If you either refuse to look at the link or it isn't working, the main takeway is that Albert Pujols is #27 of 27. In other words, of the 30 best hitters through age 31, Albert has been the worst from age 32 on. And it isn't super close. #26 is Mike Piazza at 120. 

So what about Mo Vaughn and Miguel Cabrera? Well, of the two only Miggy is truly comparable to Pujols. He didn't quite make that top 30 hitters through age 31, but wasn't far behind at #33 with a 152 wRC+. Vaughn, while a very good hitter, is in another category: his 134 wRC+ through age 31 is 163rd all-time.

But for comparison's sake, where Pujols had a 167 wRC+, Cabrera 152 and Vaughn 134 through age 31, from age 32 they were at 110, 137, and 112, respectively. In other words, Cabrera has been a lot better (so far, at least), while Vaughn was similar or a hair better. So Vaughn is a good comp...for how they both hit from age 32, but obviously Albert was far, far greater earlier on.

Looking at WAR instead of wRC+, the results are very similar, with a slightly different group of players. No need to make this longer than it needs to be.

Conclusion

Albert Pujols' decline is historical. It is the worst decline among the 27 best hitters in major league history through age 31 - and significantly worse than everyone else. Through age 31, he was similar to Frank Thomas, who early in his career Bill James put in a trio with Babe Ruth and Ted Williams as the "three greatest hitters God ever made" (to paraphrase from memory of one of his publications from the mid-90s). Thomas didn't age all that well, but much better than Pujols: his wRC+ from age 32 on was 136.

Part of the problem is longevity: Albert is continuing to play as a below average player, years after he would have normally retired. In each of the last two years he was arguably the worst player in baseball, or at least second worst after Chris Davis. Davis and Pujols share long guaranteed contracts, which is the only reason they still have major league jobs.

 

This is awesome research, analysis and a really good read. However, I was left with the thought that we are judging Pujols unfairly because of the amazing start of his career. He was better earlier than most like a Ken Griffey or a Robin Yount. I mean I wonder how he would fare if you compared him to the top 400 players through age 31 instead of the top 27. It seems there may be a skewing of the results with the limited sample you used. 

Regardless, as an Angels fan I’m dissapointed how it’s worked out but I still think Pujols can have a big year in 2019. He looked good today - a nice dinger in his second at bat and he just got under on another two swings. 

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23 minutes ago, RBM said:

This is awesome research, analysis and a really good read. However, I was left with the thought that we are judging Pujols unfairly because of the amazing start of his career. He was better earlier than most like a Ken Griffey or a Robin Yount. I mean I wonder how he would fare if you compared him to the top 400 players through age 31 instead of the top 27. It seems there may be a skewing of the results with the limited sample you used. 

Regardless, as an Angels fan I’m dissapointed how it’s worked out but I still think Pujols can have a big year in 2019. He looked good today - a nice dinger in his second at bat and he just got under on another two swings. 

Thanks. 

I did touch upon players as a whole, if only in brief. For instance, Albert's 110 wRC+ being 380th among all players age 32 and over. 

The bottom line is that while Albert was akin to Johnny Mize and Frank Thomas in their primes, he aged like a Cecil Cooper or Adam LaRoche. He went from being one of the greatest all-time to a fairly pedestrian player. This has been exacerbated by his huge contract which has extended his starting job artificially. 

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7 minutes ago, Angelsjunky said:

Thanks. 

I did touch upon players as a whole, if only in brief. For instance, Albert's 110 wRC+ being 380th among all players age 32 and over. 

The bottom line is that while Albert was akin to Johnny Mize and Frank Thomas in their primes, he aged like a Cecil Cooper or Adam LaRoche. He went from being one of the greatest all-time to a fairly pedestrian player. This has been exacerbated by his huge contract which has extended his starting job artificially. 

True. 

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