- Albert Pujols has six home runs with 16 RBI and a .263 batting average since joining the Dodgers.
- The Angels released Pujols in May after a poor start to 2021, but are still paying him $30 million.
- The Dodgers signed Pujols to a $420,000 deal, and he’s come up with several game-winning hits.
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Albert Pujols hit his sixth home run for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, making the difference in a 9-8 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
But the Dodgers only paid for about 4% of the future hall-of-famer’s big hit, while the cross-town rival Los Angeles Angels, Pujols’ former team, picked up the remaining 96% of the tab.
Even though the Angels released Pujols on May 13, they agreed to pay him the remaining $30 million on his contract. Meanwhile, the Dodgers swooped in sign Pujols to a $420,000 deal, which is the lowest salary on their active roster’s payroll for this year.
Since joining the Dodgers, Pujols’ batting average has jumped from .198 to .263, with one more home run and four more RBI in 12 fewer plate appearances than what he accumulated for the Angels. His current .888 OPS is also better than any OPS he had during his 10-year run with the Angels.
Pujols’ hits haven’t just been for the stat sheet either, as he’s been a key difference-maker off the Dodgers’ bench. Three of his home runs have come in games decided by two runs or less, while 11 of his 16 RBI have come in games decided by three runs or less.
The Dodgers were just 22-18 before Pujols arrived but have gone on a 22-9 run since signing him. His presence made an impact right away as the Dodgers won each of the first seven games he played in, all but one of which were starts.
Pujols even came within a few feet of delivering the Dodgers a signature walk-off win against the San Francisco Giants on May 29. He hit a ball that would have gone over the left-field fence for a game-winning home run if Giants outfielder Mike Tauchman hadn’t made a leaping catch to rob Pujols of a signature moment for the Dodgers.
-Ben Verlander (@Verly32) May 29, 2021
Meanwhile, the Angels are still paying Pujols more money than any player on their roster except for Mike Trout.
The Angels were 16-20 when they released Pujols, who was in the midst of a 7-for-43 slump in the final year of his 10-year $240 million contract.
Pujols’ resurgence for the Dodgers at the Angels’ expense has been the exclamation mark on a historically lopsided contract. The Angels signed Pujols to the 10-year deal back in December 2011, after he’d established himself as a nine-time All-Star and three-time MVP with the St. Louis Cardinals.
But in nine seasons with the Angels, Pujols only made the All-Star game once in 2015 and has put up drastically reduced production compared to what he did in St. Louis.
The Angels’ reluctance to even keep Pujols on the roster for the remainder of 2021, which is highly uncommon for a player of his stature, might have motivated him to finish his career on a high note for the cross-town rivals.
Essentially, the Angels were left in a lose-lose situation, but somehow the Dodgers found a way to win it.