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May 6, 2013
The Week In Albert Pujols Playing Through Pain, April 29-May 5
On Sunday, Albert Pujols sat out. The Angels are off Monday, so he'll get the two-day rest, after which, Mike Scioscia says, the Angels will "see where he is Tuesday." Which might just mean "we'll see if he feels better Tuesday." Or if might mean "we'll see where he is Tuesday, as we decide what to do about this." The team "stepped up" his treatment Saturday. Poor guy keeps trying, keeps being hard to watch, keeps being in a lot of pain.
Pujols did a better job getting the ball in the air this week, so there were fewer grounders to run out. Yay!
Fastest time: 5.63 seconds
This is the fastest time. He went a week without ever having to really run out a grounder. He had six hits this week, three of them home runs, so those are three slow trots and three times he had to run the bases. In one of them, he tagged up on a flyball to left field and moved up to second base when the throw went all the way home over the cutoff man. On that play, he moved from first base to second base in around five seconds. So that was the one time this week that Albert Pujols was able to/incentivized to run at something like full speed. The rest of the time, six-second jogs to first and 23-second trots around the bases.
(Actually, I just asked Larry Granillo about Pujols' trot, and it turns out that he really has been slower on homers this year, by about a second.
Small sample, of course, and probably irrelevant data point to boot!)
What's interesting to me at this point is that opposing defenses haven't really adjusted in a dramatic way to the fact that Pujols can't run and won't run most balls out. Pujols can run faster than 5.63 seconds to first, but not much faster; so far, in three weeks, he hasn't done better than 5.1 seconds, which is almost a half-second slower than Jose Molina on a good day. Most of the time he doesn't even try to do that. You'd think defenses would play him way, way, way, way back in the infield. Comically deep. Here's where the Orioles were playing him against a right-handed pitcher this weekend:
Deep, for sure. Here's where the same team played him a year ago:
Third baseman is probably a step or two deeper this year, shortstop is in the same spot, and second baseman is slightly deeper but also not shifted as far over. (The further to the left side he shifts, the less time he has to field and throw.) I would think the third baseman and shortstop could probably play three, maybe five steps deeper and still have time to get Pujols on just about every grounder, though maybe it's not worth the awkwardness of fielding and throwing from unfamiliar positions.
Slowest time: ~7.3 seconds.
There were two grounders this week in which the camera cut away before Pujols finished his run to first, including this one, so 7.3 seconds is an estimate. Two weeks ago, Pujols hit a ball to third base and never left the batter's box. There's a moment where he looks like he is considering doing that here, too,
but he runs it out. That time when he didn't run it out, Scioscia said Pujols sort of tweaked his knee on the swing. This was a similar swing: lots of leans and turn on the front leg for a pitch low and in.
Average time on six grounders: 6.28 seconds