Look, I like seeing Albert Pujols home runs as much as anyone does. It is a true thing of beauty to watch one of the most talented hitters ever to play the game as he drives the ball onto the roofs of buildings or into fast food restaurants signs. I can certainly understand the appeal of seeing a one-man highlight reel in action.
Pujols didn't disappoint once again on a hot afternoon at Busch Stadium. The slugger drilled two home runs, driving in four runs, and he gave the St. Louis Cardinals all of the ammunition they needed to dispose of the Twins, 5-3.
Even with the terrible Todd Wellemeyer pitching, the Cardinals couldn't be stopped, thanks almost exclusively to the powerful bat of Pujols.
So far this season, Pujols has driven in 74 runs. All of the other Cardinals combined have 231 RBI. That means that Pujols alone has almost 1/3 of this team's offensive production.
That is an amazing feat for him as a player, but it doesn't say very much for the collective talents of the rest of the team or for their prospects in effectively navigating through the postseason.
So, here's what I don't understand. As far as effective baseball strategy goes, why do any teams pitch to this guy? What if every other team in the league just decided to start intentionally walking Pujols every time he stepped up on the plate?
I realize that such a notion wouldn't do much for ticket sales, pitcher machismo, or the baseball highlights on SportsCenter. This proposition simply isn't very sporting.
But it is certainly within the rules, and I think it would be a very effective technique that could be used to defeat the team that currently heads the National League Central.
Think about it; if the Twins had just walked Pujols every at bat, they would have pretty easily won today's game. Runs scored by the Cardinals in general would be reduced by at least 1/3. Even a crappy team like the Kansas City Royals could presumably defeat the Cardinals by just not giving Pujols anything to hit.
Maybe if teams adopted this strategy, other Cardinals would start stepping up and learning to hit in the clutch. Either that, or the Cardinals management would be forced to make some moves that could surround Pujols with a decent offensive lineup.
Maybe LaRussa would have to stop putting ineffective fillers like Rick Ankiel and Chris Duncan in the daily lineup instead of on the bench—where they belong.
Don't get me wrong. The game today was a good one. Skip Schumaker is doing a great job as a leadoff hitter. The Cardinals' fielding was better in this game than it's been in a while. Even the Cardinals' bullpen had a good game, which is a nice rarity.
I'm just saying that I enjoy seeing Pujols use his effectiveness with the bat to drive in runs. I just wish I could see him do so on a team where, seemingly, other hitters could do that, too.
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