I hope I am not stepping on Robert's toes here by linking to Rob's article, but I felt that Rob Neyer's article on why Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols isn't performing up to expectations this season needed some attention here at Fake Teams.
In the article, Rob quotes Baseball America's Ben Badler who thinks that Pujols is more injured than he is letting on. Badler provides Pujols stats before April 24th, and how he has hit since. Why April 24th? That is the day Pujols injured his hamstring.
Pujols came down with some "mild tightness" in his left hamstring on April 24. His pre- and
post-hamstring injury numbers are telling.
Through April 24: .250/.306/.500, 7 HR in 98 PAs
Since April 24: .286/.372/.327, 0 HR, 113 PAs
Pujols stats since April 24th cover just 113 at bats, but the key stat is that he hasn't homered in those at bats, and has an extremely low .327 slugging percentage.
For the season, Pujols is hitting just .269-.341-.409 with 7 HRs, 25 RBIs and 29 runs scored. Of his 50 hits, he has 7 HRs and just 5 doubles in 186 at bats. To put that into perspective, last year, in 587 at bats, he had 42 HRs and 39 doubles. So, last year, 45% of his hits went for extra bases. This year, just 24% are going for extra bases.
Another telling stat is the drop in his flyball rate from 45% in 2010 to 35% this year, the lowest of his career. As a result, his ground ball rate has increased from 38% to almost 51% this year, the highest of his career.
Now I don't know whether the hamstring injury has affected his power, or if the combination of all his injuries are catching up to him. Or, you can just look at the drop in runs scored and home runs this season, well except for Jose Bautista, and the large number of hitters hitting below .250 this season. I also heard recently, and am not sure where to verify this, but strikeouts per nine are up this year as well.
Should fantasy owners deal Pujols at the first hint of a hot streak, or hold onto the best hitter over the past decade?