In the 2017 season, Albert Pujols had by far one of the worst seasons of his career. Not only was he one of the worst performing players on the Angels, but one of the worst players in the league. The man was signed to a historic contract after the 2011 season with the St. Louis Cardinals who he had been with all of his career. Based on his track record with the Cardinals, he deserved the money he got, but the Los Angeles Angels took a risk in signing a player going into his age 32 season to a long-term deal. It’s because of how poor Pujols has been since signing the deal that teams are very stringent when it comes to signing players from free agency to long-term contracts.

Pujols put up -2.2 fWAR last season which means he performed significantly worse than a replacement player. Do the Angels keep playing Pujols this season if he keeps on performing this drastically bad? Or does he continue to get playing time just because of how much money he is getting? Or does Pujols have a bounce-back year and become a, hopefully, average player? The Angels have a great chance to make a run and be competitive this year, and if Pujols is gonna bring them down, then why shouldn’t someone else who gives the team a better chance to win get the opportunity to start?

Pujols has been hit hard when it comes to aging. According to Statcast’s Sprint Speed metric, he was the slowest player in the league running 23 ft/sec. He was also eighth worst in the league in BsR with a -6.3, which basically means he costs his team a significantly larger amount of valuable runs because of his inefficiency on the basepaths. This stat also factors in how often a player grounds into double plays which Pujols was very good at in the worst way possible. Pujols actually has hit into more double plays than any player ever. He’s constantly costing his team runs. The reason why 2017 was so bad for him? He isn’t making contact like he used to and is walking less. Pujols saw significantly more strikes than balls this past season and had the lowest contact percentage in his entire career.

Pujols’ age is taking its toll on him. He’s lost his ability to defend like he used to as well. However, he is still projected to be the starting first baseman, because Shohei Ohtani will be at DH, and hit high up in the order because he is “Albert Pujols.” It would be smarter for the Angels to put him lower in the order if they really do feel the need to play him. Batting him fourth or fifth in the lineup is dangerous. It puts him into so many double play opportunities and he’s in no position to drive in runs like he used to. If Pujols, however, does have as bad of a season as he did last year, then it may be time for him to start riding the bench because almost anyone on the roster would be a better player than him. The Angels simply cannot have a player putting up a -2.2 fWAR season if they want a chance at getting Mike Trout a World Series ring. Pujols is a liability, some tough moves are gonna need to be made to ensure he doesn’t ruin the Angels’ chances to be something special.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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