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, crushed solely by his slugging proportion between August 6 and August 21 of this yr: 1.259. Principally, at 42 years outdated. The Machine is having arguably the most effective hitting stretch of his profession. For the reason that begin of August, Pujols leads all massive leaguers with not less than 40 plate appearances in slugging proportion… by greater than 300 factors — 1.083 for Pujols; .779 for second-place Paul Goldschmidt. He additionally leads MLB in on-base proportion, 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 an important. With simply 41 video games left within the common season, Pujols wants seven extra dingers in an effort to turn into the fourth member of the 700 membership. What are the chances he will get there?
Nicely, at his present tempo, he ought to get there earlier than the top of September, however that’s not lifelike. In an effort to appropriately decide the place Pujols will finish the season on the all-time dwelling run leaderboards, we have to have a look at a few elements.
- The chance that the Cardinals will face left-handed pitching down the stretch. This yr, towards right-handed pitchers, Pujols is slugging simply .600. That’s terrible. In opposition to southpaws, Pujols is slugging 1.242, which is 232 factors greater than Aaron Choose is slugging towards lefties. So, if Pujols goes to achieve 700 dongs, a hefty quantity of lefties on the beginning docket must be the very first thing we have a look at. Positive, Pujols can nonetheless pinch-hit towards lefties late in video games, however these at-bats could be too far and few between.
- Pujols has solely performed in about 60 % of Cardinals’ video games this season. I’ll attempt to have a look at each risk of his prominence within the lineup in these remaining 41 video games, however the details of emphasis shall 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 achieve his milestone. In the event that they don’t safe a playoff spot quickly, they’d seemingly push Pujols’ dwelling run chase apart in favor of enjoying the individuals that can assist them win.
- House run regression. Positive, at his present tempo, Pujols would attain 700 even when he solely received one plate look per sport. The extra seemingly situation is that Pujols begins falling again to Earth extra in line to the place he was earlier within the season. That stated, if Pujols will get a bunch of lefties lined up and is given a hefty quantity of alternatives on the plate, he may nonetheless attain 700 even when his at-bats per dwelling run mark regresses.
In the present day, the Cardinals continued their 5-game collection towards the Chicago Cubs with a doubleheader. In response to mlb.com, three of the 4 Cubs’ possible pitchers are righties (Javier Assad, Adrian Sampson, and Marcus Stroman). Tomorrow’s starter continues to be but to be decided, but it surely looks like righty Luke Farrell shall be given the nod. Given Pujols’ sizzling bat, the Playing cards in all probability gained’t fear about his righty-lefty splits except the crew begins shedding. In spite of everything, Pujols received the beginning at DH for the primary sport of the doubleheader at this time. That stated, 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 assume we are able to 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 at present — Brandon Hughes, Sean Newcomb, and Steven Brault — and Hughes has even labored because the crew’s nearer just lately. Nevertheless, it’s too unlikely that Pujols will face a lefty a number of occasions in any sport 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 towards Morton, Pujols has simply eight hits and 0 dwelling runs. Can’t depend on something popping out of that sport. He’s had 11 plate appearances towards Odorizzi. Pujols is 0-for-10. Can’t count on 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 towards the Pirates, eight towards the Reds, and 7 towards the Cubs. I’ve already mentioned how Pujols gained’t have many alternatives towards lefties when going through the Cubs.
In opposition to the Reds, he’ll seemingly get to face Mike Minor and Nick Lodolo a number of occasions. That might be Pujols’ finest alternative to achieve 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 susceptible to the house run this yr, is extra susceptible 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 at present. The crew 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 towards the Cardinals, however provided that the Pirates are in no place to make a run for the playoffs, it’s seemingly they wouldn’t put Peters out on the mound fairly often down the ultimate stretch, choosing a few of the youthful guys as an alternative, all of whom occur to be righties. That stated, if Pujols manages to get an at-bat towards somebody like Cam Vieaux, a couple of dwelling runs may very nicely occur.
The NL Central is among the tightest division races in baseball. Solely the NL East and AL Central are tighter. On the time of penning this although, the Cardinals had gained 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 crew and may win the division. Provided that the Cardinals have a fairly simple schedule down the stretch — simply 13 video games towards groups over .500 — and solely 4 video games towards Milwaukee (St. Louis is at present 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 most effective and say that the Cardinals clinch their division on the twenty first, in the course of their collection with the San Diego Padres. That would go away two video games towards the Padres, three towards the Dodgers, two towards the Brewers, and 6 towards the Pirates. Six of Pujols’ fourteen dwelling runs this yr have come towards these 4 groups. The truth is, two of Pujols’ three multi-homer video games this yr have come towards 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 achieve 700, the ultimate ten video games of the season would in all probability be the most effective time to take action. Each the Brewers and Dodgers have a plethora of southpaws on their staffs. Pujols did nice in his final sport towards Brewers’ starter Aaron Ashby (two dwelling runs), who must be again from the IL earlier than that collection — though it’s unknown when he’ll be scheduled to begin when he returns. Pujols has additionally been nice in his profession towards guys like Milwaukee’s Taylor Rogers in addition to Los Angeles’s David Worth, Tyler Anderson, Clayton Kershaw, though Pujols has by no means homered off Kershaw or Anderson. Sadly, it could be too little too late at that time for Pujols.
It’s unlikely Pujols reaches 700 dwelling runs. If Pujols had higher numbers towards 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 understand that as sizzling as Pujols is true now, that DH spot could be finest 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 may imply just one or two at-bats for Pujols for a number of video games within the quick 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 evening, these odds nonetheless maintain true. Frankly, there simply aren’t sufficient lefties on the plate and the Cardinals will seemingly go for somebody higher towards righties till the crew clinches the NL Central, and which may not be for a very long time. I wouldn’t be shocked if Pujols passes Álex Rodríguez for fourth all-time, however 700 could be simply out of attain. Who is aware of? If he’s simply brief, perhaps he’ll resolve to return again subsequent yr. That’s at all times a risk.