So far this postseason, Albert Pujols is 14-31 (.452) in eight games with eight extra-base hits. He has also already been intentionally walked three times as the St. Louis Cardinals have a two games-to-one lead in the National League Championship Series.
This comes after a season that was considered a bit of a down year for Pujols. His numbers were still better than most, hitting .299 with 37 home runs and an OPS of .906. But his batting average and OPS have fallen three straight years. And at age 31, his career may be in decline.
But we are now seeing in the postseason just how valuable Pujols still is to the Cardinals. But can they afford to keep him?
Pujols was reportedly seeking a 10-year, $230 million contract prior to the season. But with his huge postseason, and other suitors this off-season driving the price up, that number may no longer be in play. And for a team whose payroll was $109 million this season, the Cardinals are now going to have to spend nearly one-fourth of their 2012 payroll on one player.
That is a huge commitment for just one player, even one as good as Pujols. But if the Cards want to compete again in 2012, they may have to do it.