When the Dodgers signed Albert Pujols back in May, I had to double-check to make sure there wasn’t an error in the report. After spending the previous decade with the Angels, the future Hall-of-Famer was released and signed with the Dodgers to be a bat off the bench.
Turns out, it was a match made in heaven.
Pujols exceeded expectations while with the Dodgers. In addition to mashing left-handed pitching, his presence and leadership in the clubhouse certainly left an impact. After every Dodgers home run, Pujols would welcome the player back to the dugout with a big hug.
When he was released by the Angels, Pujols was looking for a chance to start every day with another team. Though he didn’t find that, he found a team who would be willing to give him a shot at competing for another World Series ring.
“I told them I’m here to do whatever,” Pujols said back in May. “Pinch-hit, first base, whatever they want. I think, at the end of the day, I’m just excited for this opportunity to wear this uniform and, you know, glad to be here.”
Pujols played more than expected, largely due to the number of Dodgers injuries. He appeared in 85 games and ended up making 37 starts at first base. Overall, he hit .254/.299/.460/.759 with 12 home runs and 38 RBI. Pretty good numbers for a 41-year-old if you ask me.
The real damage though came when Pujols faced left-handed pitching. At the young age of 41, Pujols was one of the better right-handed bats in baseball against southpaws. With the Dodgers, Pujols posted a .953 OPS and 149 wRC+ (!!!) against lefties. 10 of his homers came against lefties, hitting a home run against them every 11.8 plate appearances.
“We feel his body, his swing, the efficiency in his swing, is better than it has been in the past. He’s talked about how much healthier he feels right now,” said Andrew Friedman on May 17, when the Dodgers’ signing of Pujols was finalized.
After joining the Dodgers, here’s where Pujols ranked among all major-leaguers with at least 118 plate appearances against lefties.
- 10 home runs (T-7th)
- .606 SLG (9th)
- 28 RBI (12th)
- .953 OPS (15th)
- .392 wOBA (18th)
- 149 wRC+ (19th)
For a team that struggles against left-handed pitching, Pujols was certainly one of their more valuable assets. Pujols found himself frequently hitting cleanup in a lineup that featured the likes of Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Trea Turner, Chris Taylor and AJ Pollock.
In addition to being a threat against lefties, Pujols delivered in the clutch on numerous occasions. With runners in scoring position, Pujols was hitting .340 with an OPS of .931 and a wRC+ of 141. In high leverage situations, he was hitting .348. Whenever the Dodgers needed a big hit, Pujols delivered.
Stats: .254/.299/.460/.759, 12 HR, 38 RBI, 3 2B, 101 OPS+, 101 wRC+, .319 wOBA
Game of the year
This was one of the coolest moments of the season. Albert Pujols returned to St. Louis for only the second time since leaving the Cardinals a decade ago. He received a standing ovation and proceeded to hit a home run.
Pujols is currently a free agent.