Albert Pujols may have had his best season as an Anaheim Angel in 2014.
But, in the end, the man with the $240 million contract wasn't enough of a force to come close to his St. Louis Cardinals years -- or to help the Halos to win even a single post season game.
Pujols, who hit 28 homers and drove in 105 runs in 2014, managed only a .272 batting average -- 55 points less than he averaged in St. Louis -- and a .324 on-base percentage -- 96 points less than his glory days in what has been spun as a bounce back year. In the Angels' three-game sweep at the hands of his hometown Kansas City Royals, Pujols hit .167 with one homer and two RBIs.
That must be sobering for the Angels' ownership. Pujols' salary, $23 million in 2014, will escalate to $24 million next year and to $25 milllion in 2016, his age 35 and 36 seasons. This year was likely the best performance the Halos are likely to get from the aging and increasingly brittle slugger.
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Not only will Anaheim get less from Pujols, he'll become more costly, preventing the club from filling other needs. And they're not going to be able to fill them from within, losing draft picks to other clubs -- including the Redbirds -- as compensation for inking free agents to lucrative deals.
For perspective, the guy the Cardinals chose with their Pujols compensatory pick, Michael Wacha, has been a part of nine post season victories and a World Series team since Albert fled St. Louis for Southern California. Pujols hasn't been a part of one playoff win since he left. Nevermind that Wacha has only been in the big leagues for a year and a half. So much for it not being about the money but about going somewhere where you have to win a World Series every year, eh, Albert?
While the 2014 post season remains up in the air for the Cardinals, the future looks bright with a host of young, promising players either on the roster or knocking on the door of the major leagues. But Anaheim is saddled with big contracts and an empty farm system. Pujols' best chance to bring a trophy to the Angels may have just walked out the door.
It's going to be pretty embarrassing during the term of Pujols' personal services contract with the Halos to show up at opening day -- or a Hall of Fame induction ceremony -- wearing two St. Louis Cardinals World Series rings.