I’m sorry, I just don’t buy this notion that the Padres should just throw up four fingers every time Albert Pujols comes to the plate. There is little doubt he is one of the — most would say the — most dangerous hitters in baseball, but that does not mean you should just give in.
Yet some were saying just that on Tuesday and Wednesday, after Pujols snapped a scoreless tie and sparked St. Louis to a 5-1 Game 1 win. Here’s why I think it would have been foolish to walk Pujols in that situation:
- It was the fourth inning. The Cardinals had a runner on first, there were no outs and Padres starter Jake Peavy had been razor-sharp.
- Pujols may be "not human," as Peavy said the day before, but he still made an out in more than 56 percent of his at-bats during the regular season. He makes it look easy sometimes, but hitting is actually really hard.
- The guy hitting behind him is no slug. Jim Edmonds is coming back from a head injury and has been dealing with a foot injury, but is the career NLDS slugging percentage leader. Scott Rolen is not terrible, either.
- Did I mention it was the FOURTH inning?
Are there stat guys out there who can back me up on this? Padres manager Bruce Bochy was tied for fifth in the NL with 63 intentional walks during the regular season and says he is going to let the game dictate the Padres’ approach to Pujols, and that’s the right way to go. Seventh inning, runner on second, two outs, go ahead and walk him. But playing scared and walking the guy every time he steps to the plate doesn’t make much sense to me.
Pujols is 3-for-9 lifetime against Padres Game 2 starter David Wells. That’s definitely a match-up to watch on Thursday afternoon. — Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
Edit: Props to 1rebinva for pointing out that I am horrible at math…