Albert Pujols was recently released by the Los Angeles Angels where he spent nearly half his career after leaving the Saint Louis Cardinals. Albert is undoubtedly a Hall of Famer as he is only one of four players to attain the dual milestone of 3,000 hits and 600 home runs. Pujols will be joining the cross-town rivals Los Angeles Dodgers as he is signed until the end of the season.
Why The Dodgers And Not An Al Team?
At the age of 41, it was hard to see how Pujols fits in with the Dodgers because the NL has yet to implement the universal DH. On top of that, Pujols is only hitting .198/.250/.372 (72 OPS+) in 92 plate appearances this season, which is not great on paper. However, his 90.5 average exit velocity would be his highest since 2015, while his 112.9 mph max exit velocity would be his best since 2016.
There were probably a few teams interested in his services, not just because of depth but also for what he had accomplished for his career. Reuniting with Tony La Russa on the Chicago White Sox is what fans expected, but the White Sox simply had no need for his services as they had no room. Two other teams that I had in mind were the Cincinnati Reds as Joey Votto went on the IL due to a broken thumb, and the Miami Marlins as the organization could use an attendance boost.
The Dodgers did not make sense, but manager Dave Roberts as the move gives the team some flexibility as Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, and AJ Pollock are on the IL. Edwin Rios is expected to miss the entire season with a torn labrum.
Reppin’ Dodger blue. pic.twitter.com/KGWYeArVx1
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) May 17, 2021
How Will Manager Dave Roberts Incorporate Pujols Into The Lineup?
The former champs have not looked great during their recent stretch as players like Trevor Bauer expressed their frustrations as he stated that he hates losing and that the team is not playing at their potential. The Pujols signing happened before Corey Seager went down with a fractured hand. Manager Dave Roberts has cleared any speculation by stating that Max Muncy was the starting first baseman.
When facing left-handed pitching, the Los Angeles Dodgers hit around .230 as a unit. This transaction would give the team the flexibility to move Max Muncy to second base and let Pujols get some reps at first when playing against left-handed pitchers. Pujols could also be a spark to get a rally going as he is still a threat with the bat, even those he is hitting below the Mendoza Line.
The Dodgers will give Pujols the best chance to win a World Series ring as he already has two rings on his resume. This is also a no-risk high reward type of situation as the Angels are paying the majority of his $30 million dollars as the Dodgers are only obligated to pay the veteran minimum for his services. If Pujols does not perform or struggles, the Dodgers can cut ties with him easily.
Pujols is still far from getting 700 home runs as he is currently at 667 for his career. Although it is not impossible for him to reach that milestone; however, he will most likely have to play two more years for the bare minimum and retire at the age of 43. In order to do this, he will most likely have to join a team in the AL even though most fans want to see him play one last time for the Saint Louis Cardinals.