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Thursday, July 29, 2021
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Los Angeles Angels’ Have Designated Slugger Albert Pujols For Assignment

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In a mid-week shock, the Los Angeles Angels have designated future Hall of Fame player Albert Pujols for assignment. It is highly unlikely any club will elect to sign Pujols, virtually ending his fabulous playing career.

Pujols was in the final year of a 10-year, $240M contract.

Pujols was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 First Year Player Draft. They chose him out of Maple Woods Community College in Kansas City.

Pujols made his major league debut with St. Louis on April 2, 2001, at the age of 21.

He was an All Star that year, and won the Rookie of the Year Award was based upon a season where he hit 37 home runs and drove in 130 runs. He had 197 hits, including 47 doubles and four triples, in addition to the homers. It was an amazing season. It was the beginning of a fabulous career.

Pujols earned free agency in 2011 after playing parts of 11 seasons with the Cardinals. He ultimately elected to sign that 10-year contract with the Angels.

Because he had a terrific on-base percentage, Pujols scored 137 runs in 2002. He followed that year by scoring 133 and 129 runs the next two seasons. 

Pujols hit 47 home runs in 2009, followed by 42 the next year.

In 2003, Pujols had a batting average of .359. And remarkably, Pujols never struck out more than 93 times in any season. That’s a statistic that has impact for someone like this old baseball scout.

Indeed, Albert Pujols piled up one statistic upon another to be a feared hitter. The ball jumped off his bat. He then used sufficient speed to move around the bases, often even stealing his share of bases early in his career.

Pujols has hit 667 big league home runs, has driven in 2,112 runs and has 3,253 hits in his outstanding 21-year career. He amassed 12,486 plate appearances. It is this writer’s opinion that Pujols is worthy of a first-ballot election to the Hall of Fame. 

Mr. Pujols is 5th in career home runs. He is second only to Henry Aaron in lifetime RBIs.

At the time of his departure from the Angels, Pujols was hitting .198/.250/372/622. He hit five home runs and drove in 12 runs. Yes, his skills were waning. Some might argue he was still a threat with a bat in his hand.

In all likelihood, Albert Pujols was consulted on the decision by the Angels. It is unlikely the decision came as a total surprise. But for this writer, it doesn’t make the decision correct.

To this scout and writer, Pujols was one of the most dangerous, consequential and impactful hitters in the game. Few players have had the consistent offensive presence and game-changing impact for such a long time.

Pujols was a member of ten All Star teams. As stated earlier, he won the Rookie of the Year Award with the Cardinals in 2001. He was the National League Most Valuable Player in 2005 and 2008, a year he also won the Major League Player of the Year Award. He came back and won the MVP Award in 2009 as well.

Not only was Pujols an offensive presence, he won two Gold Gloves, in 2006 and 2010, while playing for the Cardinals.

Among other countless awards, Pujols was named a Silver Slugger six times.

To this old scout, something is very wrong when a major league team releases a future Hall of Fame player in the last year of his contract. Couldn’t the Angels have been more understanding and allow Pujols to walk away quietly at the end of one of the most dynamic careers in recent history?

What was the rush? Why did this have to happen in this manner?

Frankly, Albert Pujols being released with only five months remaining on a 10-year contract seems like a black eye to baseball in general, and the Los Angeles Angels in particular.

Consequential hitters and pitchers should be celebrated. Game-changing players with a history like that of Albert Pujols deserve to be sent to retirement with fanfare and a profound amount of appreciation from the current team and the baseball industry.

In Albert Pujols, baseball fans in general, and fans of the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Angels in particular watched a tremendously gifted performer for 21 major league seasons.

Now, with no ceremony and no fanfare, Mr. Pujols enters retirement and waits. He waits for the celebration he deserves. He waits for the praise he is due.

It didn’t have to happen this way. 

From this writer and baseball scout who had the honor and privilege to watch Albert Pujols for every year of his career, thank you. Thank you for sharing your great ability.

In all likelihood, Albert Pujols will get his day in the spotlight when he is inducted to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

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