Coming into the season, Angels first baseman had an Average Draft Position of 14 according to Mock Draft Central. I have written here several times about how down I was on Pujols coming into the season. Without looking back, I am pretty sure I was the low man on the totem pole on Pujols in our consensus first base rankings last offseason. My reasoning for being down on him has been the steady decline in his power and on base percentage.
This season, Pujols is playing injured, dealing with a very bad case of plantar fascitis, and some think he should be on the disabled list right now. I understand that has affected his play this year, but he has played with injuries for several years now. I just think age has caught up to him, and as the injuries mount, the less productive he will be at the plate.
Let's take a look at his career stats, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:
If you focus on the period from 2009 - 2013, you can see that his power, specifically his home runs totals and slugging percentage, have declined in each of the past four years, including this season.
Here is a snapshot of the decline in his power from 2009-2013:
Not only has his power declined, but so has his batting average and on base percentage, with his batting average dropping 80 points, his on base percentage dropping 123 points, and his slugging percentage dropping 243 points over the last four seasons.
Injuries or not, Pujols is in the decline phase of his career, and should no longer be considered a first or second round pick. In fact, I am in the middle of my Midseason Position Rankings which will publish next week, and there is a good chance he falls out of my top 5 and end up closer to the 9-10 range among fantasy first baseman.
Most great hitters go through a decline phase, some hit it earlier than others, and Pujols is definitely in the decline phase of his Hall of Fame career. His name value still carries plenty of weight, but his production at the plate is steadily dropping.