Albert Pujols has struggled to regain relevance after a pair of lost seasons following his move to the Anaheim Angels from the St. Louis Cardinals.
He's hitting .287 with 10 homers. His consistency isn't what it was when he was in St. Louis. He strikes out more than he walks these days and, his on base percentage is about 100 points lower than his Redbirds heyday and, even with his recent power outburst, his slugging percentage over the first month of the season is lower than it was over the entirety of his stay in St. Louis.
Still Pujols has apparently put himself back on the radar. At least with the opposition.
On Sunday night he was the designated target in an on-going feud between the Angels and the Texas Rangers. With Texas up 9-2 in the fifth inning, Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish threw a purpose pitch in Albert's general direction. It glanced off Pujols' helmet and sent the 34-year-old slugger to the dirt, flat on his back.
Darvish claimed he wasn't going for the head, a claim Pujols said he believed as evidenced by the fact he didn't charge the mound. But there was no doubt Darvish's pitch was high and tight with a purpose.
That's significant because no one bothers to go after a nobody. Old school baseball rules dictate that if you have a beef you go after the other team's star. Besides, when he struggled the past couple of years, opposing pitchers seemed to believe they had a book on Pujols and would prefer to get him out instead of giving him a free pass.
Mike Trout leads the Angels regulars in batting average. But Pujols has him the other triple crown categories with four more homers and six more runs batted in.
He's certainly doing much better than his teammate David Freese. The former Cardinals third baseman, who had a finger broken when he was hit by a pitch, was batting .202 with two homers at the time of his injury.
It's been three plus years since Pujols batted .300. But if he can keep up the way he's been hitting so far this year, he can at least reverse the six-year slide in his baseball card statistics.
Just don't let that go to your head, Albert.