Is Albert Healthy?

Two different random people have asked me this question over the last week.

A cursory search of the internet revealed no recent stories documenting a current injury for Pujols.  We all know about his elbow and the recent procedure he had to reposition his tendon, but that is old off-season news at this point.  No, there’s no indication he’s hurt.

However, starting the season 2 for 16 is unusual.  In fact, any stretch where he hit .125 for a period of games is unusual.

I did a couple of searches on Baseball Reference.  The first was to see how many consecutive games he’d gone with at least 4 at bats and no more than one hit.  The longest such streak is 6 games, most recently from July 21-27 in 2009.  During that six-game stretch (@HOU, @PHI, vs LA) he went 5 for 25, no XBH, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1K.  Before that, go back to May 3-8 2004 (vs CHC, @PHI, @MON) where he went 6 for 26, but had 3 doubles and a HR.

The second again looked at consecutive games, but this time using at least 3 AB and no more than 1 hit.  Pujols had an 11-game streak like that last season (Aug 27 to Sep 7) where he hit .158 (6 for 38), 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 6 BB (2 intentional), and 8K’s.  The games were @WSH, @HOU, vs CIN, and @MIL.  The next longest covered the July 2009 time period again, but was 10 games, adding 3 to the front and 1 to the back of that streak (he hit .211).

I don’t remember AP being hurt in 2010.  I do remember he had nagging elbow issues in 2009.  Either way, the lack of production being correlate-able to an injury doesn’t seem to be there.  Still, this kind of mini-slump to start the year is odd.  After the Padres series it was reported Pujols had only been held hitless in 2 of the first 3 games of a season twice before – 2001, and 2007.  In Game 4 of the 2001 season (@AZ) he went 3-5 with a double, HR, and 3 RBI.  That game started a 13-game hitting streak for Albert.

In 2007, he went hitless in Games 4 and 5 and started the season 1 for 17.  Then he broke out with 2 hits and a HR against the Astros.  He finished that season with a .327/.429/.568 season (OPS .997), which is a tremendous year for most everyone else, but the second lowest OPS of his career.  2007 is also the only season he did not finish among the top 5 in NL MVP voting.

So to answer the question posed by this post’s subject:  yes, I believe Albert Pujols is healthy.  I don’t believe this is anything more than an a slow start to the season.  Yes I would feel better about it if he had gone 2-16 against Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, and Lincecum, but whatever.  Let’s see how he hits the rest of this month before we start lining up to jump off the Eads Bridge.



Filed under analysis, NL Central, St Louis Cardinals

2 responses to “Is Albert Healthy?

  1. While he’s never started off THIS slow, seems like last year or the year before he had a fairly quiet start as well and turned out to be fine. Heck, wasn’t there one year recently where he was hitting under .250 after April or something? He’ll be fine, I’m sure. ‘Course, I’d like to be proven right pretty quickly….

    • One thing I neglected to include: I thought he looked uncomfortable swinging the bat during the lone Cardinal spring training game we attended. Now since none of the regular writers have brought this up, and because I only saw one game I decided it was my imagination. Now I wonder.

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