Monday, May 23, 2011

Albert Pujols' Slow Start

So far he as an OPS of .750 while the league OPS is .702. So that is a good year but not the kind of great season he has always had. He has never finished out of the top 10 in OPS. This year he is only 45th among NL players with 120+ PAs. He generally is not a slow starter. Here are his OPS numbers for each month, April to September, for all of his career:


Maybe he slips just a bit in May, but it looks he usually starts well. If he had had alot of bad starts, these numbers would look different.

But OPS+ from Baseball Reference is even better since it is adjusted to the league average and for park effentcts. 100 is average. The table below shows his OPS+ in each month for every year of his career:

April includes March and Sept includes Oct. All the months he has had an OPS+ under 120 are in red. He only played 10 games in June 2006 and must have been hurt. He has never had two straight months under 120. It looks like he has only had under 150 in back-to-back months once. He finished pretty strong last year, so it is not like he was starting to tail off then.

He has only been intentionally walked once this season. Here are his IBB totals for each season through 2010:


Maybe pitchers are not as afraid of him as they used to be or maybe having Holliday and Berkman behind him having good years keeps Pujols from being intentionally walked. This should mean he is seeing good pitches so he should be performing well (of course, the research on protection shows it does not have much effect).

He has also grounded into 14 double plays already this year. His average is 20 or so per season. But we are not even at the one-third mark. His rate is 26%. That is, he grounds into DPs 26% of the time there is an opportunity. That is twice his career average and the next highest is 16%. Maybe he has just been a little unlucky so far and things will even out. The league average is 10% this year and since Pujols came into the league it has been 10-11%.

The numbers below show how much better Pujols was than the league average for his career from 2001-2010:

AVG: 27%
OBP: 30%
SLG: 50%
ISO: 89%
SO/AB: 44% (less)
BB/PA: 54%

But what about this year?

AVG: 8%
OBP: 6.9%
SLG: 6.8%
ISO: 4.5%
SO/AB: 53% (less)
BB/PA: 10%

No doubt his being only 10% better than the league average in walks is partly due to not being intentionally walked. If I account for IBBs, he falls from being 32% better to only 14% better. Notice that he has improved his relative strikeout rate. The big drop is isolated power. He has been 89% better but now is only 4.5% better.

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