How Albert Pujols regained his ancient form to hit 700 times on his land, and what does that mean for cardinals in October

St. Louis Cardinals Legend Albert Pujols became the fourth member of MLB’s 700-player club on Friday night when he fired the numbers 699 and 700 against an MLB team. Los Angeles Dodgers. Pujols can now be mentioned at the same time as Barry Bonds, Henry Aaron and Babe Ruth, the most prolific baseball players in Major League Baseball history.

The odds of Pujols reaching that summit seemed slim in the spring, when he signed a one-year contract to finish his career where it began. He was, after all, 42 years old, and his recent statistical record indicates he is best suited for short platoon work. Pujols didn’t improve his chances during the first three months of the season either. He hit a couple of races in April and May, but failed to make his paycheck even once in June. His three-man home put him back on track, but left him 14 times at home under 700 with only two months left in his season and career.

It has been said that life finds a way, and so did Pujols. From August onwards, he performed like…well, his young self. Over his last 43 games, he’s hit 306/.372/.694 with 14 home runs in 137 trips to the plate. Pujols went on to do most of his damage against the left pitcher, but the introduction of the world designated hitter in conjunction with the Cardinals’ relaxed advance into the National Central League gave him a steady stream of opportunities.

To honor Pujols’ accomplishments and nod at his transformation, let’s break down his play this season and what it means for the Cardinals’ playoff hopes.

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How Pujols Prospered

Again, this sounds like a sentence ripped from an article from 2008, but Pujols’ success this year can be attributed to a combination of disconnection and his power.

For intelligence, Pujols entered Saturday with a touchdown rate in the area of ​​89 percent, ranking 37th out of 346 hitters with at least 200 trips to the plate. Meanwhile, Pujols’ average exit speed of 91.2 mph was better than all of the hitters in front of him except for the two hitters who were ahead of him in average contact within the zone: Yandy Diaz and Vinny Pasquantino – and for his part, Pujols hits the ball in the “sweet” launch angle window more than either of them.


88.3 mph


90.9 mph


90.0 mph


90.7 mph


93.0 mph


92.3 mph

Pujols’ higher performance, as expected, coincided with growth in the exit velocity division. As the graph above shows, it has gone from consistently posting average exit speeds in the 90-91 mph range to gaining more traction over the past two months. This development can be linked, in part, to a philosophical shift. Take a look below and notice how he became more likely to hit the ball in the air and left field:



20.3 degrees



19.4 degrees



1.7 degrees



13.1 degrees



18.0 degrees



21.9 degrees

The lasting memory of Pujols will be an all-round hitter. This has not been the case lately. Instead, the Pujols’ drag rate this season has been within two percentage points of Joey Gallo, whose extreme drag tendencies made him the perfect example of someone who could benefit from going the other way to balance the shift.

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Pujols have also seen their share of redundancies, but they are less prevalent as a proper mixture. They are less effective when he puts the ball in the seats.

What does that mean for the Cardinals in the playoffs?

This is where we usually talk about sustainability and the like and caution against betting on a 42-year-old maintaining the MVP-caliber MVP pace for too long. The beauty of Pujols’ impending retirement is that none of these things matter. He has 10 regular season games however many post-season competitions remain. Anything and everything can happen across this small sample, regardless of the process.

If you are the Cardinals, the return of the Pujols should give them renewed hope on the grounds that he can positively impact the post-season. That’s a welcome outcome because the Cardinals are dealing with a compromised lineup and exit: Dylan Carlson just got off the injured list, and Tyler O’Neal is in it with a hamstring injury. The Cardinal should be thrilled with Lars Knottbar’s appearance, but it’s fair to write that they might be in a better position with their lineup and exit if they can confirm that Carlson and O’Neill were scrumptious before October.

Logically speaking, it would seem silly to view Pujols as a potential counterweight, let alone a reasonable difference maker. But there is still room for magic in this ancient sport, and he’s done a good job showing off a lot of time and again over the past couple of months.

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