It has been over a week since Pujols mania hit Orange County, and off the field, it is proving to be a huge hit.
Merchandise is flying off the shelves, and fans are suddenly stir crazy about purchasing tickets. The man known as "the machine" has caused a pandemic despite having yet to play a game with an Angels uniform on.
On the field, is Pujols enough to transcend an Angels lineup that has been fairly punch-less in recent years? Yes and no.
Yes, because anytime a team adds one of the greatest hitters of all time, the lineup instantly becomes far more potent. Pujols is a home-run threat every time he comes up to bat, something that has been sorely missing in the Angels lineup ever since Kendrys Morales injured his ankle.
On the other hand, Pujols alone cannot hide a couple deficiencies in the batting order. Vernon Wells is still overpaid and not very good, and Bobby Abreu is just a shell of the great player he used to be. The bright side is that the young Mike Trout is just waiting in the wings whenever management tires of trotting out the veterans.
Pujols’ presence does add an extremely important feature that the Angels have never really possessed, a high on-base percentage player. Abreu’s 2009 campaign in which he put up a slash line of .293/.390/.435 would be the exception.
While Mark Trumbo did an admirable job filling in for Morales at first base, his on-base percentage on the year was a dreadful .291. Pujols for his career features a .420 OBP%, something desperately needed on a team known for their free swinging ways.
So the Angels lineup still is not anything to write home about, but to be honest, the Angels do not need to be an offensive juggernaut to win games. With a four-headed monster of Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, CJ Wilson and Ervin Santana, the Angels boast one of the best rotations in Major League Baseball. In the scenario that they make the playoffs, not many teams in the American League can match up with them pitching wise.
There are also a couple of wild cards beyond the Pujols addition that could increase the Angels chances of winning a World Series title.
The first would be Morales, who is still rehabbing the ankle he injured while celebrating at home plate in 2009. If he actually plays this season and resembles some form of his old self, the offense becomes far more impressive with the addition of another power hitter batting behind Pujols.
The next would be catcher Chris Iannetta, who was acquired from the Colorado Rockies for Tyler Chatwood. Suffice to say, Iannetta is easily an upgrade over Mathis offensively, featuring superior on-base skills and power potential. With Mathis no longer on the team, Mike Scioscia cannot possibly come up with a lineup that has a player being an easy out.
Albert Pujols may not solve every little issue with the Angels offensively, but he definitely helps a great deal. The Angels were shutout 11 times in 2011, but in 2012, there is no excuse to not score enough runs to support a phenomenal pitching staff that does not need much to begin with.