First off, it’s shocking even to consider Albert Pujols not playing for the St. Louis Cardinals. But after losing out on so many big-time free agents in recent years, the Los Angeles Angels finally landed the biggest one. (And for $250 million. Mercy.)
So now what? Perhaps the greatest hitter of this generation now moves to a league that’s more hitter-friendly. From a home park standpoint, Busch Stadium in St. Louis and Angel Stadium in Anaheim play almost identically, but Pujols will get more opportunities to hit and more chances to drive in runs by playing in the American League.
It’s a great move for Pujols and his fantasy value. Injuries, age and a slight decline in his amazingly consistent numbers were three reasons why Pujols isn’t my No. 1 overall fantasy player for 2012. That may need some revision in light of his move to the AL.
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons the Angels were willing to take the risk of signing Pujols for ten years (through his age 41 season) is that when his
Gold Glove defensive skills begin to decline, he can slide over to the designated hitter spot.
Of course, the Angels are happy to make room for him in their everyday lineup, but that means first baseman Mark Trumbo (.254, 29 HR, 87 RBI) will need to
find a new position. There was speculation the Angels could try him at third base, but a stress fracture in his right foot hasn’t fully healed. And speaking
of foot injuries, there’s still the curious case of Kendrys Morales and when he’ll be healthy enough to play this season.
As with the Marlins’ signing of Jose Reyes, Pujols will have an impact on everyone else in the Angels lineup, especially youngsters Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout.
The Pujols signing is also a major coup for the Angels pitching staff. Jered Weaver and Dan Haren are already two of the league’s top starters (and maybe
C.J. Wilson too), but they should pick up some extra wins thanks to the additional offense Pujols will provide.
A possible Angels batting order:
SS Erick Aybar
2B Howie Kendrick
DH Bobby Abreu
RF Torii Hunter
LF Mike Trout
3B Alberto Callaspo
CF Peter Bourjos
Depending on Trout’s development, the best-case lineup would have him hitting in one of the top three spots — ahead of Pujols — and driving opposing pitchers crazy. To start the season, look for Abreu and his high OBP to get the enviable spot ahead of Pujols. Also look for a bounce in Hunter’s numbers hitting behind Pujols.