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Will Pujols hit No. 700?


Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols
Picture: 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 share between August 6 and August 21 of this 12 months: 1.259. Principally, at 42 years previous. The Machine is having arguably the perfect hitting stretch of his profession. Because the begin of August, Pujols leads all huge leaguers with at the very least 40 plate appearances in slugging share… by greater than 300 factors — 1.083 for Pujols; .779 for second-place Paul Goldschmidt. He additionally leads MLB in on-base share, 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 a very powerful. With simply 41 video games left within the common season, Pujols wants seven extra dingers to be able to grow to be the fourth member of the 700 membership. What are the percentages he will get there?

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

  1. The chance that the Cardinals will face left-handed pitching down the stretch. This 12 months, in opposition to right-handed pitchers, Pujols is slugging simply .600. That’s terrible. Towards southpaws, Pujols is slugging 1.242, which is 232 factors greater than Aaron Choose is slugging in opposition to lefties. So, if Pujols goes to succeed in 700 dongs, a hefty quantity of lefties on the beginning docket needs to be the very first thing we take a look at. Positive, Pujols can nonetheless pinch-hit in opposition to lefties late in video games, however these at-bats could be too far and few between.
  2. Pujols has solely performed in about 60 % of Cardinals’ video games this season. I’ll strive to take a look at each risk of his prominence within the lineup in these remaining 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 likelihood they may supply 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 individuals that can assist them win.
  3. House run regression. Positive, at his present tempo, Pujols would attain 700 even when he solely received one plate look per recreation. The extra probably situation 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 this time, the Cardinals continued their 5-game collection in opposition to the Chicago Cubs with a doubleheader. In line with 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, nevertheless it looks as if righty Luke Farrell will probably be given the nod. Given Pujols’ sizzling bat, the Playing cards most likely received’t fear about his righty-lefty splits except the workforce begins shedding. In spite of everything, Pujols received the beginning at DH for the primary recreation of the doubleheader right now. That mentioned, I doubt he’ll begin all 4 video games. He could get extra alternatives late in video games he isn’t beginning if lefty relievers are introduced in, however I don’t suppose we will assume Pujols will hit any dwelling runs this collection. At most, one.

Even throughout his unbelievable 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 presently — Brandon Hughes, Sean Newcomb, and Steven Brault — and Hughes has even labored because the workforce’s nearer just lately. Nevertheless, it’s too unlikely that Pujols will face a lefty a number of instances in any recreation all through this collection.

After the Cubs, it will be the Braves. They have a great bullpen and will be trotting out three righties for their upcoming series (Spencer Strider, Charlie Morton, and Jake Odorizzi). In 33 profession at-bats in opposition to Morton, Pujols has simply eight hits and nil dwelling runs. Can’t depend on something popping out of that recreation. He’s had 11 plate appearances in opposition to Odorizzi. Pujols is 0-for-10. Can’t anticipate something there. He’s by no means confronted Spencer Strider.

At that time, we’re already a sixth of the way in which by means of 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 in opposition to the Pirates, eight in opposition to the Reds, and 7 in opposition to the Cubs. I’ve already mentioned how Pujols received’t have many alternatives in opposition to lefties when dealing with the Cubs.

Towards the Reds, he’ll probably get to face Mike Minor and Nick Lodolo a number of instances. That will 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 vulnerable to the house run this 12 months, is extra vulnerable 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 presently. The workforce 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 in opposition to the Cardinals, however provided 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 few of the youthful guys as a substitute, all of whom occur to be righties. That mentioned, if Pujols manages to get an at-bat in opposition to somebody like Cam Vieaux, a couple of dwelling runs might very properly occur.

The NL Central is likely one of 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. For my part, the Cardinals are the higher workforce and will win the division. Provided that the Cardinals have a reasonably straightforward schedule down the stretch — simply 13 video games in opposition to groups over .500 — and solely 4 video games in opposition to Milwaukee (St. Louis is presently 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 the perfect and say that the Cardinals clinch their division on the twenty first, in the midst of their collection with the San Diego Padres. That would depart two video games in opposition to the Padres, three in opposition to the Dodgers, two in opposition to the Brewers, and 6 in opposition to the Pirates. Six of Pujols’ fourteen dwelling runs this 12 months have come in opposition to these 4 groups. In reality, two of Pujols’ three multi-homer video games this 12 months have come in opposition to the Brewers and Pirates — a kind 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 most likely be the perfect time to take action. Each the Brewers and Dodgers have a plethora of southpaws on their staffs. Pujols did nice in his final recreation in opposition to Brewers’ starter Aaron Ashby (two dwelling runs), who needs to be again from the IL earlier than that collection — though it’s unknown when he’ll be scheduled to start out when he returns. Pujols has additionally been nice in his profession in opposition to guys like Milwaukee’s Taylor Rogers in addition to Los Angeles’s David Value, 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 unlikely Pujols reaches 700 dwelling runs. If Pujols had higher numbers in opposition to 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 sizzling as Pujols is correct now, that DH spot could be greatest served with somebody aside from Pujols filling that position. Maintain Pujols on the bench in case the opposition brings in a lefty reliever, however that will imply just one or two at-bats for Pujols for a number of video games within the instant future. Pujols must proceed his unbelievable 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 % likelihood of reaching 700 by the top of the season.

Even after his dwelling run that night time, these odds nonetheless maintain true. Frankly, there simply aren’t sufficient lefties on the plate and the Cardinals will probably go for somebody higher in opposition to righties till the workforce 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 brief, perhaps he’ll resolve to return again subsequent 12 months. That’s all the time a risk.

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