Albert Pujols Released by the Los Angeles Angels is the headline we saw emerge on Twitter earlier today. His time with the organization and his 10-year 253-million-dollar contract has now ended. In his final season with the club, Pujols had speculated to start the season that this may be his last campaign. We wrote about this last year prior to the start of the 2020 season that was shortened due to the pandemic.
Why Was Albert Pujols Released?
As Jeff Passan’s tweet indicates, Pujols had been struggling this season at the plate and had declined really over the past few years from the player that he was when he first signed with Los Angeles in 2011. Read any of the Angels fan Facebook groups and you will see that Pujols has in many ways become a laughing stock with his bloated contract and seemingly limited abilities at the plate and on the base paths.
His recent numbers from prior to 2021 would suggest it too that he hadn’t really ever been able to regain his form from his time with the St. Louis Cardinals from 2001 through 2011 which is likely why Albert Pujols was released.
When Did Albert Pujols Start to Decline?
In his first season with Los Angeles in 2012, he batted .285 (at the time, a career low) with 173 hits, 50 doubles 30 home runs, 105 RBIs (7th in AL), and 85 runs scored.
2013 saw his time limited due to injury with foot problems and he was done by mid August for the season. He didn’t even tally 100 games in the field as he played in career low 99 games.
2014 saw him appear in 159 contests and he would maintain a consistent number of games over the next five years never dropping below 130. His numbers however were not much better though and he continued to show signs of decline in 2015 he he batted .244/.307/.480 with the lowest batting average on balls in play (.217) of all major league players.
Pujols also continued to show slowing foot speed which meant that he was grounding into more double plays per season. He batted 268 in 2016 and a career-low .241 in 2017 but tied for 2nd in the AL in double plays grounded into, with 24 in 2016 and 26 in the 2017 season. He had the second-slowest baserunning sprint speed of all major league players, at 22.6 feet/second. That dropped to 21.7 in 2017.
Despite the continuing decline in foot speed and on the basepaths, Pujols continued to accumulate career numbers and accolades that show why he will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
2019 saw him become the fourth player in major league history to record 2,000 RBIs. He became only the 6th player in MLB history to hit 200 home runs with two different teams. He followed that up by becoming the first player in MLB history to record 650 home runs and 650 doubles in his career on July 28th, 2019.
2020 was also another season of milestones for Albert when he hit his 661st career home run to pass Willie Mays for fifth place all-time. He hit his 662nd homer later in the same game.
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