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Will Pujols hit No. 700?


Albert Pujols
Photograph: Getty Pictures

There’s nobody on Earth hotter than Albert Pujols proper now. In his final 10 video games, Pujols is slugging 1.258. That’s the second-highest mark of his profession over any 10-game stretch, overwhelmed solely by his slugging proportion between August 6 and August 21 of this 12 months: 1.259. Mainly, at 42 years previous. The Machine is having arguably one of the best hitting stretch of his profession. For the reason that begin of August, Pujols leads all huge leaguers with at the least 40 plate appearances in slugging proportion… by greater than 300 factors — 1.083 for Pujols; .779 for second-place Paul Goldschmidt. He additionally leads MLB in on-base proportion, batting common, weighted runs created-plus, remoted energy, and he’s tied for the league lead in dwelling runs in that span. That final quantity is an important. With simply 41 video games left within the common season, Pujols wants seven extra dingers with a purpose to change into the fourth member of the 700 membership. What are the chances he will get there?

Nicely, at his present tempo, he ought to get there earlier than the top of September, however that’s not sensible. With the intention to appropriately decide the place Pujols will finish the season on the all-time dwelling run leaderboards, we have to have a look at a few components.

  1. The chance that the Cardinals will face left-handed pitching down the stretch. This 12 months, towards right-handed pitchers, Pujols is slugging simply .600. That’s terrible. Towards southpaws, Pujols is slugging 1.242, which is 232 factors increased than Aaron Decide is slugging towards lefties. So, if Pujols goes to succeed in 700 dongs, a hefty quantity of lefties on the beginning docket ought to be the very first thing we have a look at. Positive, Pujols can nonetheless pinch-hit towards lefties late in video games, however these at-bats can be too far and few between.
  2. Pujols has solely performed in about 60 p.c of Cardinals’ video games this season. I’ll attempt to take a look at each chance of his prominence within the lineup in these ultimate 41 video games, however the details of emphasis will probably be how quickly the Cardinals safe a playoff spot and division title. In the event that they don’t have anything to play for aside from playoff seeding, I’d think about the Cardinals would give Pujols each probability they might provide for him to succeed in his milestone. In the event that they don’t safe a playoff spot quickly, they’d probably push Pujols’ dwelling run chase apart in favor of enjoying the folks that may assist them win.
  3. House run regression. Positive, at his present tempo, Pujols would attain 700 even when he solely obtained one plate look per recreation. The extra probably state of affairs is that Pujols begins falling again to Earth extra in line to the place he was earlier within the season. That mentioned, if Pujols will get a bunch of lefties lined up and is given a hefty quantity of alternatives on the plate, he might nonetheless attain 700 even when his at-bats per dwelling run mark regresses.

At the moment, the Cardinals continued their 5-game sequence towards the Chicago Cubs with a doubleheader. Based on mlb.com, three of the 4 Cubs’ possible pitchers are righties (Javier Assad, Adrian Sampson, and Marcus Stroman). Tomorrow’s starter remains to be but to be decided, however it looks as if righty Luke Farrell will probably be given the nod. Given Pujols’ scorching bat, the Playing cards in all probability received’t fear about his righty-lefty splits except the staff begins shedding. In spite of everything, Pujols obtained the beginning at DH for the primary recreation of the doubleheader at the moment. That mentioned, I doubt he’ll begin all 4 video games. He might get extra alternatives late in video games he isn’t beginning if lefty relievers are introduced in, however I don’t assume we are able to assume Pujols will hit any dwelling runs this sequence. At most, one.

Even throughout his unimaginable month of August, he’s but to hit a single dinger off a right-handed pitcher. The Cubs do have three lefties of their bullpen at the moment — Brandon Hughes, Sean Newcomb, and Steven Brault — and Hughes has even labored because the staff’s nearer just lately. Nonetheless, it’s too unlikely that Pujols will face a lefty a number of occasions in any recreation all through this sequence.

After the Cubs, it will likely be the Braves. They’ve an incredible bullpen and will probably be trotting out three righties for his or her upcoming sequence (Spencer Strider, Charlie Morton, and Jake Odorizzi). In 33 profession at-bats towards Morton, Pujols has simply eight hits and nil dwelling runs. Can’t rely on something popping out of that recreation. He’s had 11 plate appearances towards Odorizzi. Pujols is 0-for-10. Can’t count on something there. He’s by no means confronted Spencer Strider.

At that time, we’re already a sixth of the way in which via the rest of the season for St. Louis, and he’s added zero to his title. The Cardinals have 9 video games left this season towards the Pirates, eight towards the Reds, and 7 towards the Cubs. I’ve already mentioned how Pujols received’t have many alternatives towards lefties when dealing with the Cubs.

Towards the Reds, he’ll probably get to face Mike Minor and Nick Lodolo a number of occasions. That might be Pujols’ greatest alternative to realize floor. Minor is giving up an astonishingly excessive 2.2 dwelling runs per 9 innings on the season and Lodolo, though a lot much less liable to the house run this 12 months, is extra liable to the stroll. If some Playing cards can get on base in entrance of Pujols in these video games, Lodolo must problem Pujols. You don’t need to try this.

The Pirates don’t have a single lefty on their beginning rotation at the moment. The staff traded away their solely constant left-handed starter, José Quintana, on the deadline and now solely have righties in JT Brubaker, Mitch Keller, Zach Thompson, Bryse Wilson, and Roansy Contreras. The Pirates do have three left-handed relievers, however they’ve solely pitched a mixed 21.2 innings all season lengthy. Perhaps Dillon Peters will return from the IL and pitch a bit towards the Cardinals, however on condition that the Pirates are in no place to make a run for the playoffs, it’s probably they wouldn’t put Peters out on the mound fairly often down the ultimate stretch, choosing a number of the youthful guys as an alternative, all of whom occur to be righties. That mentioned, if Pujols manages to get an at-bat towards somebody like Cam Vieaux, a number of dwelling runs might very properly occur.

The NL Central is among the tightest division races in baseball. Solely the NL East and AL Central are tighter. On the time of scripting this although, the Cardinals had received eight in a row and 9 of their final 10, whereas the Brewers had gone 5-5 in that very same span. In my view, the Cardinals are the higher staff and will win the division. On condition that the Cardinals have a reasonably straightforward schedule down the stretch — simply 13 video games towards groups over .500 — and solely 4 video games towards Milwaukee (St. Louis is at the moment 5 video games forward), I’d think about that the Cardinals will wrap up the division title someday between September 21 and 28. Clearly, the sooner the higher for Pujols’ sake.

Let’s assume one of the best and say that the Cardinals clinch their division on the twenty first, in the course of their sequence with the San Diego Padres. That would depart two video games towards the Padres, three towards the Dodgers, two towards the Brewers, and 6 towards the Pirates. Six of Pujols’ fourteen dwelling runs this 12 months have come towards these 4 groups. In reality, two of Pujols’ three multi-homer video games this 12 months have come towards the Brewers and Pirates — a type of homers within the Pirates was off utility man Josh VanMeter although; I doubt he’ll be pitching once more.

If Pujols is to succeed in 700, the ultimate ten video games of the season would in all probability be one of the best time to take action. Each the Brewers and Dodgers have a plethora of southpaws on their staffs. Pujols did nice in his final recreation towards Brewers’ starter Aaron Ashby (two dwelling runs), who ought to be again from the IL earlier than that sequence — though it’s unknown when he’ll be scheduled to start out when he returns. Pujols has additionally been nice in his profession towards guys like Milwaukee’s Taylor Rogers in addition to Los Angeles’s David Worth, Tyler Anderson, Clayton Kershaw, though Pujols has by no means homered off Kershaw or Anderson. Sadly, it is perhaps too little too late at that time for Pujols.

It’s not going Pujols reaches 700 dwelling runs. If Pujols had higher numbers towards right-handed pitchers this season, I’d really feel extra assured in saying the opposite, however because it stands, there’s a line of righties ready for the Cardinals that I can’t see Pujols penetrating. The Cardinals are vying for a division title, which might be their first since 2019, and in the event that they need to safe that title, they’ll have to appreciate that as scorching as Pujols is correct now, that DH spot can be greatest served with somebody aside from Pujols filling that position. Preserve Pujols on the bench in case the opposition brings in a lefty reliever, however that may imply just one or two at-bats for Pujols for a number of video games within the speedy future. Pujols must proceed his unimaginable tear, and at age 42, I don’t see it lasting for much longer.

As of Monday morning, Baseball Reference gave Pujols a 7.1 p.c probability of reaching 700 by the top of the season.

Even after his dwelling run that evening, these odds nonetheless maintain true. Frankly, there simply aren’t sufficient lefties on the plate and the Cardinals will probably go for somebody higher towards righties till the staff clinches the NL Central, and that may not be for a very long time. I wouldn’t be shocked if Pujols passes Álex Rodríguez for fourth all-time, however 700 is perhaps simply out of attain. Who is aware of? If he’s simply quick, possibly he’ll resolve to come back again subsequent 12 months. That’s all the time a chance.


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