With over one-quarter of the 2011 MLB season in the books, St. Louis Cardinals fans, baseball fans and scores of good old-fashioned Albert Pujols-ologists are puzzled: What is wrong with No. 5?
The consensus best hitter, and best player, in the game is putting up rather pedestrian numbers in his first 44 games—numbers not befitting the greatest hitter that many of us have ever watched ply the fickle trade of hitting a baseball.
Certainly, other players—including established stars such as Carl Crawford, Dan Uggla, Vernon Wells and Jorge Posada—are doing battle with injuries, the Mendoza Line and other controversies, but Albert Pujols hitting .269 with meager (for him) production sends greater shock waves through the baseball world that he has so dominated.
It was probably unfair for sports wags (I'm not referring to the WAGs that populate this site) to have labeled Pujols "The Machine," as he is subject to the same thoughts and emotions as mere mortals. We think.
But how else does one go about trying to comprehend the production of somebody who entered MLB (with no prior big league at-bats) in 2001 at the age of 21 and proceeded to average .330 with 41 homers, 123 RBI and 119 runs?
Prior to this season, Albert's average season was unreachable for almost every other baseball superstar, and even his worst year would be a career year for a majority of All-Star players.
This unabashed Pujols fan would love to see El Hombre start tearing it up again; it would restore order to his world and to the universe of other baseball fans.
Indeed, this lifelong Phillies fan would also love to see him finish his career as a Cardinal and continue to put up once-in-a-generation numbers.
Having said all this in truth, here are five statistics—compared to his usual, amazingly consistent numbers—that tell the tale of Albert Pujols' puzzling 2011.