Photo Credit: Jason O. Watson – Getty Images
The Los Angeles Angels have begun the year with a 32-31 record, and most of their success has come on the offensive side, most notably the revival of former All-Star first baseman Albert Pujols.
Pujols seemed to have fallen off due to a combination of injury and age, failing to be named to the All-Star team over the past four years. It once was the norm for him, as he made the team in nine of his first 10 years in the bigs. In that downhill span, Pujols’ power dropped – going from 37 home runs in 2011 to 17 in 2013, before rising to 28 the following year.
However, since his rebirth at the end of May, the 35-year-old first baseman has not looked back.
In the past 16 games, Pujols is batting .387 with 10 home runs and 17 RBI. Since the beginning of May, Pujols has lifted his average from an abysmal .208 to a respectable .276. He currently leads the American League with 18 home runs – tied with Seattle’s Nelson Cruz, who has cooled down since his 10 home run April.
Though the Angels sit at third in the American League West, the team has found success with the hot streak from their first baseman – with the exception of being swept by the first place New York Yankees.
Pujols has stepped up in more than one way, however. His veteran presence in the clubhouse has impacted his team, most evident through the Josh Hamilton trade. Morale was low through the toll of Hamilton – due to possible suspension and injury lurking – leaving Pujols with the task to step up and take hold of the team in his absence. After he was traded, Pujols certainly stepped up in a big way.
The Angels open up a series at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night, looking to lessen the gap between themselves and the AL West crown, currently held by the Houston Astros.
It will be interesting to see if Pujols is back to his old form, or if it is a June fluke. However, all signs point to a revival, as he is officially 100 percent healthy and finally tearing the seams off the ball.