May 13, 2013
The Week In Albert Pujols Playing Through Pain, May 6-May 12
All in all, a very good week for Albert Pujols playing through pain. Not necessarily for Pujols, who appears to be in pain, and playing. But he was able to do things (presumably through pain) this week that he wasn’t able to do, because of pain, in previous weeks. Maybe he’s not in pain anymore, but probably he’s still in pain. Here’s pained he pained pain.
Fastest time: 4.75 seconds
Whoahohohohoo. That’s not just Pujols’ fastest time during the month that we’ve been doing this, but it’s comparable to some of the times I got for him running hard two years ago, when he was still in St. Louis. The swing, on a pitch away, which gave Pujols a little momentum coming out of the box, helped. But there are major leaguers currently running who are slower than this. That probably wasn’t true of any of his times to first previously.
His reward: A slow struggle back to his dugout. “That’s a body in a lot of pain,” Orel Hershiser said, or something like that.
Slowest time: 6.60 seconds
No visual confirmation of the moment his foot touches the bag, but 6.6 seems a fair estimate. There were no instances of Pujols not running to first; there were no instances where Pujols looked like he considered not running to first. So that’s progress on both ends of this list.
Besides home to first times, it was a busy week on the bases for Pujols. He got a double on a hard line drive off the wall in left field; it looked clear that he would stop at first base, but Chris Carter was slow to get it so, after slowing down at first, Pujols fired back up and went to second. (It took 9.44 seconds for him to go home to second.) He scored on a sacrifice fly, my favorite part of which was the batter, Alberto Callaspo, beating him back to the third-base dugout. He hit a pop-up to first base and, when Adam Dunn flat out dropped it, Pujols was thrown out because he had rounded the bag too far. He hadn’t rounded the bag very far at all, but that’s how it goes.
And, most impressively, he scored a crucial run on a passed ball. This is an important one, because we’re always looking for two sorts of examples of Pujols running: instances where he has to run hard, as hard as possible, with the slimmest margins, so we can see what he is currently capable of; and instances where he has a choice, where he gets to decide how much pressure he wants to put on his legs, so we can see what he is comfortable with. This was a rare event that met both of those standards. And Pujols was surprisingly fit by both measures:
He was also pumped up, super emotional. It was an important run, but (armchair psychologizing here) more than that it was something he did with his legs, despite his legs, that I don’t know he was capable of a week ago. That impression is backed up by his teammates reactions, which are much more “LOL see that guy?” than “Woohoo a run in a baseball game!”
Average time on seven grounders this week: 5.81 seconds
Fastest time: 4.75 seconds