There’s nobody on Earth hotter than Albert Pujols proper now. In his final 10 video games, Pujols is slugging 1.258. That is 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 12 months: 1.259. Basically, at 42 years previous. The Machine is having arguably the very best hitting stretch of his profession. Since the beginning of August, Pujols leads all large leaguers with a minimum of 40 plate appearances in slugging percentage… 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 house 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 with the intention to turn into the fourth member of the 700 membership. What are the percentages he will get there?
Well, at his present tempo, he ought to get there earlier than the top of September, however that’s not reasonable. In order to appropriately decide the place Pujols will finish the season on the all-time house run leaderboards, we have to have a look at a pair elements.
- The probability 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. Against southpaws, Pujols is slugging 1.242, which is 232 factors larger than Aaron Judge is slugging in opposition to lefties. So, if Pujols goes to achieve 700 dongs, a hefty quantity of lefties on the beginning docket ought to be the very first thing we have a look at. Sure, Pujols can nonetheless pinch-hit in opposition to 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 strive to have a look at each risk of his prominence within the lineup in these ultimate 41 video games, however the details of emphasis might be how quickly the Cardinals safe a playoff spot and division title. If 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. If they don’t safe a playoff spot quickly, they’d probably push Pujols’ house run chase apart in favor of taking part in the individuals that may assist them win.
- Home run regression. Sure, at his present tempo, Pujols would attain 700 even when he solely acquired 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 stated, 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 house run mark regresses.
Today, the Cardinals continued their 5-game collection in opposition to the Chicago Cubs with a double-header. According to 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 might be given the nod. Given Pujols’ scorching bat, the Cards most likely gained’t fear about his righty-lefty splits except the workforce begins dropping. After all, Pujols acquired the beginning at DH for the primary recreation of the doubleheader right now. That stated, I doubt he’ll begin all 4 video games. He might get extra alternatives late in video games he isn’t beginning if lefty relievers are introduced in, however I don’t suppose we are able to assume Pujols will hit any house runs this collection. At most, one.
Even throughout his unimaginable 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 workforce’s nearer lately. However, 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 is going to be the Braves. They have an incredible bullpen and might be trotting out three righties for his or her upcoming collection (Spencer Strider, Charlie Morton, and Jake Odorizzi). In 33 career at-bats against Morton, Pujols has simply eight hits and 0 house 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 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 way of the rest of the season for St. Louis, and he’s added zero to his identify. 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 gained’t have many alternatives in opposition to lefties when going through the Cubs.
Against the Reds, he’ll probably get to face Mike Minor and Nick Lodolo a number of instances. That could be Pujols’ greatest alternative to realize floor. Minor is giving up an astonishingly excessive 2.2 house runs per 9 innings on the season and Lodolo, though a lot much less susceptible to the house run this 12 months, is extra susceptible to the stroll. If some Cards can get on base in entrance of Pujols in these video games, Lodolo must problem Pujols. You don’t need to do this.
The Pirates don’t have a single lefty on their beginning rotation at present. 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. Maybe Dillon Peters will return from the IL and pitch a bit in opposition to the Cardinals, however on condition 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 number of the youthful guys as an alternative, all of whom occur to be righties. That stated, if Pujols manages to get an at-bat in opposition to somebody like Cam Vieaux, a couple of house runs might very properly occur.
The NL Central is among the tightest division races in baseball. Only the NL East and AL Central are tighter. At the time of scripting this although, the Cardinals had gained eight in a row and 9 of their final ten, whereas the Brewers had gone 5-5 in that very same span. In my opinion, the Cardinals are the higher workforce and will win the division. Given 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 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. Obviously, the sooner the higher for Pujols’ sake.
Let’s assume the very best 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 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 house runs this 12 months have come in opposition to these 4 groups. In truth, 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 achieve 700, the ultimate ten video games of the season would most likely be the very best time to take action. Both 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 house runs), who should be back 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 in opposition to guys like Milwaukee’s Taylor Rogers in addition to Los Angeles’s David Price, Tyler Anderson, Clayton Kershaw, though Pujols has by no means homered off Kershaw or Anderson. Sadly, it is likely to be too little too late at that time for Pujols.
It’s not going Pujols reaches 700 house 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, their first since 2019, and in the event that they need to safe that title, they’ll have to comprehend that as scorching as Pujols is correct now, that DH spot could be greatest served with somebody aside from Pujols filling that position. Keep Pujols on the bench in case the opposition brings in a lefty reliever, however that might imply just one or two at-bats for Pujols for a number of video games within the instant future. Pujols must proceed his unimaginable 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 p.c likelihood of reaching 700 by the top of the season.
Even after his house 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 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 is likely to be simply out of attain. Who is aware of? If he’s simply quick, possibly he’ll determine to come back again subsequent 12 months. That’s all the time a risk.