Dave Fleming has a super readable post up at BJOL, in front of the paywall I'm pretty sure, that suggests the Angels should release Albert Pujols. In the article, Fleming points out that last season, Pujols had a 78 OPS+ and was therefore the 4th-worst player ever to collect 100 RBI.
In the comments, one of the readers points out that Pujols may be much older than 38. Last year, he had an OBP of .286 and a SLG of .386. Obviously, his "contributions" on base and defensively are less than nothing. Can you allow such a player 550 AB's at first base and DH?
It's always a shame when you have such a majestic player and you have to practically rip the jersey off his back. But it's a good conversation piece: would YOU DFA Albert Pujols before the season started?
Fleming's piece also gives us a quick-sum as to the Angels' intentions in 2018:
Let’s be realistic. The Angels have three years left with Mike Trout. They have three years of Andrelton Simmons, a legitimate MVP candidate last year. To fill out their team, they have added Justin Upton and Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart and Chris Young, all talented players on the wrong side of thirty. They have a few years to see what they’re going to get out of Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs and Parker Bridwell. And, of course, the Angels won baseball’s version of the lottery when Shohei Ohtani opted to sign with them.
This is the Angels window. This is their chance, and while the presence of the Astros juggernaut is reason enough to scare any AL West team away from investing too heavily in a period of contention, the Angels are in a tricky position where they need to be doing everything they can to maximize the number of wins they can etch on the ledger this year, and next year.
And the very obvious place where they can improve their team is by getting better production at first base and DH.
M's fans may comfort themselves that the Angels had a losing record :- ) last year at 80-82. Their offense was 93 and their pitching 101. Their #1 pitcher was probably Ricky Nolasco with an 86 ERA, although statistically J.C. Ramirez was better with 101. Parker Bridwell gave them a partial season at 116, but the rest of their staff gave them a bunch of 76's and 93's.
Shohei Ohtani may be in a position very similar to James Paxton in 2018.
Of course Arte Moreno pushed Albert Pujols down Jerry Dipoto's throat with two hands, whereupon Pujols followed his 170 OPS+ in St. Louis with a 115 OPS+ for the Angels. We're quite confident that with every Pujols ground-ball double play, Dipoto becomes more ossified in his position about helping his team via the free agent market. (Pujols is the all-time MLB leader in GIDP's.)
Of course Pujols' standing in other MLB stats is considerable also:
- 99 WAR is #1 among active players
- .561 SLG is #15 among all players, ever
- 619 doubles are #12 among all players
- 614 homers are #7 all time
One of the commenters also pointed out something strange: Pujols has always dragged the bat through the zone slowly, has always had below-average "bat speed" (if you mean throughspeed, Bruce). I'm not quite sure how that works, that you slug .650 dragging the bat through the zone like Ichiro on a LF single, but maybe Matty can help us out on that one.