Can Albert Do It?

As the Cardinals playoff hopes wane, fans have cast about for other things to talk about. Most of them center around what the Cardinals will do with their pending free agents. Recently it’s been whether or not Nyjer Morgan is certifiably crazy. There is one remaining on-field area of intrigue, and that’s if Albert Pujols can hit .300 for the season.

APujols

Pujols is the only man to start his career with 10 consecutive .300 AVG, 30 HR, 100 RBI seasons. Regardless of your perspective on these traditional statistics, if it can be said ‘Player X is the only player in MLB history to do Y’ that’s pretty special. Several people have tweeted today that Pujols must hit .337 over the remaining 19 games to make .300. Can he do that?

Albert has certainly hit .337 or better for ninteeen-game stretches in his career. For example – in 2001 he hit .337 or better during 75 different 19-game intervals. Yes I did manually count. If it seems like a high number, let me explain. Games 1 through 19 would be one 19-game interval. Games 2-20 would be the second 19-game interval, even though only one game has been replaced by a new game. I kept looking at the games in that way (games 3-21 is interval #3, 4-22 interval #4, and so on) until I ran out of 19-game samples. I did not carry over 19-game intervals from season to season.

Basically Albert hit .337 or better for the first 2 months of 2001, then did it again from July 21 2001 until the end of the season.

This season has been Albert’s most difficult at the plate, and the 19-game intervals I looked at bear that out. Over all the intervals reviewed (it should be 110 unless my math is off), Pujols has only hit .337 or better in eleven. The first inteval ended with the game during which he broke his arm (Interval 56). He did not reach the .337 plateau again until the July 26 – August 14 period (Interval 89).

However, the late surge is why there remains some hope he can do it. Ten of the 11 periods observed occurred after that 26 July game. His most recent hot intervals started with the 10 August game against Milwaukee and ended with the Cincinnati series last weekend. In fact, his best hitting all season has been in progress since the July 24 game at Pittsburgh. Over that 42-game stretch he’s hit .323/.397/.605, with 12 HR and 25 RBI.

The most recent 19-game interval, starting with Game #110 (17 August, again at Pittsburgh) and ending Wednesday night, has seen Pujols hit .328.

Bottom line. He’s hot right now, he’s in a sustained period of good hitting at the moment, and he’s hit .337 or better in ten 19-game intervals since the 24th of July. There’s good reason to think he can get to .300 before the last out of the season.

4 thoughts on “Can Albert Do It?

  1. I remember when he scored “only” his 99th run on the last day of the season in 2007, failing to reach 100 for the first time in his career. As accomplished as he is, and I’ll admit it *does* lose some luster, but it’s still impressive to say “only player in MLB history to hit .295 or higher with 30 HR, 95+ RBI, 99+ runs…etc”. Sure, .300/30/100 looks (and sounds) more impressive, but slightly lower standards are still rather stout. Look back on other historic players, and we see much less simple/clean numbers than what we’re all hoping for with Albert. It’s not terribly uncommon to read something like this about a pitcher, for example: “From 1958-1972, he was one of only three pitchers to walk fewer than 60 batters in a season more than ten times, and had two years of 5 or more in a row during that stretch.” It’d just be easier to say “He never walked more than 60 batters over his 15-year career, and was the only man to do so.” Great read, as usual, Michael!

    1. Thanks for the comment Dathan! And you’re right – no matter where the line gets drawn (.300/30/100 or .295/30/95), he’s still put together the greatest run to start a career in the history of MLB.

    1. Getting 7 RBI in the 13 remaining games is definitely do-able. Getting to .300 will be a little tougher. I think he’s got a great shot to do both. And the team will need him to stay hot if they harbor any hope of catching Atlanta.

      Thanks for the comment!

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