Share 0BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE Staff Writer
Albert Pujols’ 18 homers this season are impressive, but no greater than what the slugger has done in Los Angeles’ four seasons playing on the Major League Baseball club.
In the last six seasons, Pujols is baseball’s highest-paid player. And his numbers are even more impressive when considering his strikeout rate, home runs and RBIs per game.
Of Pujols’ 98 home runs this season, the slugger currently leads the league with 40. He is doing it at a .354 pace per game, the best among qualified home run hitters, and is sixth in batting average.
Pujols has 10 HRs in his last four games and is 3-for-3 with a walk, which is equal to two walks per game, and is out on the disabled list a few weeks.
But there are fears that the aging slugger might lose his mojo sometime in the future. The concern is that a recurring postseason slump might be physically impossible to overcome.
“I don’t feel that stress in the batting cage,” Pujols said. “I just have to keep my energy level up through the course of the game, and I think that’s what we really need to do here.I believe I’ve got a lot left.”
While Pujols is sitting back and waiting for the season to end, he is a fan of the city. He can recognize pitchers in the area that are past their prime or whose teams are no longer a contender, a name he has already mentioned numerous times in all his fun little stories.“That’s a huge compliment,” he said. “I know people with our teams have gone through a good run.”
One person he is not familiar with is former catcher and captain, Dusty Baker. Pujols believes that it is in his best interest to stay friends with Baker after their four-year duel ended this year and that they can help each other succeed on the field.“Dusty is very good friends with my brother,” Pujols said. “And he’s going to help me all the way through.”
He also referenced the upbringing his father has given him. His father was a professional baseball player for five seasons and the patriarch is the manager of their family’s successful indoor hitting and fitness gym in Long Island City.“It’s just part of me,” Pujols said. “I grew up in Queens, and I know people around there. I saw guys who went to New York University and loved playing here.” And while his father has a great deal of respect for many men and has advice for both young and old, the only advice his father said he ever gives him is “Just trust what your body tells you.”
That’s a mind-set Pujols is trying to bring to life on the field. But it’s not up to him. It’s up to those around him, he said.“Trust the guys that you know to be tough,” he said. “I really think that’s the greatest talent that you can have is what your body tells you. Keep coming out, even in the most tough times.”
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @JNStrawbridge.