The Houston Astros used a unique shift against Albert Pujols on Sunday night against the Los Angeles Angels, with three infielders on the left side, including shortstop Carlos Correa in essentially mid-left field.
Pujols superficially is having a decent year, with 23 home runs and 98 RBI, but outside of the occasional extra-base hit it’s been a rough year for the 37-year-old future Hall of Famer.
He entered Sunday hitting just .242/.288/.391, and by some measures is having a historically bad season. Age and injuries have taken their toll on Pujols, most notably his speed. Hence the shift by the Astros, with almost any ball on the ground an easy out.
The numbers bear it out, with Pujols hitting just .189/.189/.204 this season on ground balls. And he’s only hit a ball to the right side in just 14 percent of his plate appearances, so the Astros’ gamble of having only first baseman Yuli Gurriel on that side of the infield doesn’t figure to hurt.
In his second at-bat Sunday night, Pujols grounded out to second baseman Jose Altuve, who was positioned more like a shortstop. Even with the long throw needed, Pujols was retired at first base.
It's his second longest of the year; he had a 128 ft throw on a very similar play against Jose Bautista.— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) September 25, 2017