Monday, April 5, 2010

Memo To All Pitchers: Stop Pitching To Pujols

Just in case you didn’t already know, Albert Pujols is good.

Year after year, Pujols enters his season with outrageous talks of obtaining the Triple Crown, and every year, he delivers with numbers that are almost comical.

This year’s Opening Day was no exception. The Triple Crown seems to be in play, and Pujols did nothing to make you think otherwise.

The big man went 4 for 5 with two home runs and three RBIs.

The consistent demolition of pitchers is starting to make me ask, “Why do these pitchers continue to pitch to him?!”

It hasn’t been that long since we have seen a player who has this much impact at the plate. Barry Bonds in the early 2000’s wreaked just as much havoc as Pujols does now. In fact, pitchers became so afraid of him that they actually developed something that became known as the “Barry Bonds Treatment.”

If you don’t remember what the “Barry Bonds Treatment” was, it was the ideology that you didn’t throw strikes to Bonds. It involved walking him even when the bases were loaded in fear of a grand slam. If the bases were empty, you still didn’t throw anything near the middle of the plate. This caused Bonds to rack up an absurd 232 walks in 2004.

While it seems crazy to walk a player that many times, Bonds’ production proved that it was the best option. Walking Bonds with the bases loaded is indeed conceding a run, but what were the odds he would do more damage?

Bonds is the only player in MLB history to warrant this treatment…until now.

Last season, Pujols came up to bat 17 times with the bases loaded. In those opportunities, Pujols had ten hits, including five grand slams and three doubles. With 35 RBIs, he averaged over 2 per at bat.

Despite that production, not a single pitcher thought about walking him. Every single time, the pitcher shook his head and told himself, “No, it isn’t going to happen to me.”

Isn’t ignorance beautiful?

Most people defend themselves by saying that Matt Holliday isn’t exactly an easy out to follow him. However, while Holliday is a great player, you are comparing a borderline All Star, with one of the top-five greatest players of all-time. It shouldn’t even be a decision worth thinking about. Throw four balls and focus on Holliday.

If I am facing Pujols, here is how I handle him:

  1. If first base is open, I walk him
  2. If the game isn’t tied and the bases are loaded, I walk him
  3. In fact, the only time I pitch to him is if the bases are empty or the bases are loaded in a tie ball game

You can call me crazy if you want, but I think Pujols is far less dangerous on first base than at the plate. If I’m playing him, I am going out of my way to make sure it is someone else who beats me.

Until people come to the same conclusion I do, I will enjoy watching pitchers look confused at how Pujols drilled yet another pitch over their heads.

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