July 02, 2017

The end for Albert Pujols? He's now approached the Kozma Line (with possible correction)

Albert Pujols: the end of
the baseball road?
Has Albert Pujols, one of the half-dozen (or fewer) greatest ballplayers of the last 20-30 years, finally hit the end of the road?

Even for me, who touted the possible career milestones in front of him, it seems it may be that way.

And, that leads to the header of this post.

For those who are wondering, the Kozma Line is named for former St. Louis Cardinals, and current Texas Rangers, non-standout Pete Kozma. I invented the Kozma Line, the sabermetric version of the Mendoza Line named after Mario Mendoza, in his "honor."

It's similar to the Mendoza Line's .200 batting average. But, as I noted, sabermetrically based.

It's a sub-.600 OPS, or on-base percentage plus slugging percentage.

It's bad enough when a banjo-hitter utility infielder who might have some glove falls below it.

But for a hit-first first baseman, or one who's now almost a full-time DH, this is the end of the road, if one is not making $25 million a year, and possibly still drawing fans to the park with his star power.

And, as of the Angels' Sunday, July 2, loss to the Mariners, El Hombre had an OPS of .599. (Maybe I reverse-jinxed him; three days later, he was up to almost .620!)

Possible correction; I may have been eyeballing his BA plus slugging, from the box score in that game, rather than checking B-Ref's actual OPS. That said, even with his walks added in, he was still below .635 or so. In light of that, I've changed "below" to "approached" in the header.

Contra the commenter, though, it still doesn't negate the measuring value of any "arbitrary" point. A .300 BA, or a 1.000 OPS, is still a magic cutoff line. As is a .600 OPS on the bad side.

Back to the post itself.


Did he roid during his peak years? I've always rejected that.

Did he shave a year or two from his age, first to get into a U.S. high school? I've long wondered. For that alone, he had incentive to do it. Classmates have claimed that he certainly acted like he was actually 16, but, really, how much difference is there between a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old?

Or, did he just peak early, and flame out early.

Anyway, back to his career track.

Will he stay around for all of these possibilities? I think nothing changes until the Haloes get Mike Trout back; more on that here. But, after that? Who knows?

He is still short of Sammy Sosa at 609 and Jim Thome at 612 on the career homers chase. Ken Griffey at 630 may have to wait until next year. If there is a next year.

Another milestone also lies ahead. Currently at 2,896, Pujols is eyeing 3,000 hits. That also will have to wait until next year, if not forever. He passed Pudge Rodriguez and Babe Ruth. He needs 30 to pass Barry Bonds, and has a good shot at moving into No. 35.

Career in that department? Even allowing for nagging injuries and continued decline, at the start of this year, I thought he should get at least 3,550 hits, which would put him past Tris Speaker into fifth all time. (That's on an allowance of 155 hits this year and an average of 145 per year over the four remaining contract years. Another 81 — which might be a tough challenge — would give him 3,631, and Cardinals fans know who that's about.)

But now? Even if he stays for the rest of this year, and Arte Moreno doesn't buy out his contract, that seems unlikely. Anything above 3,300 seems very unlikely.

So do all these other career records I thought he had a shoat at, in the start of the year

I didn't see him catching the big three of Bonds, Hank Aaron and Ruth, but thought he had a good shot for passing 700 with 20 a year for the rest of his contract, and 24 a year would push him past Ruth. At a minimum, after Junior Griffey, he'll catch Willie Mays, then should pass A-Rod.

Now? Passing Mays seems his best hope. And, speaking of A-Rod, remember the Yankees bought him out.

And, I earlier thought Albert still has a decent shot at one all-time career record. Right now, he's 480 short of The Hammer on the career RBIs mark. Throwing out his injury-plagued 2013, he's met or beaten that mark every year with the Haloes. Ruth is in second, just 398 ahead of Pujols. Barring serious injury, Albert catches him. Even with more injury problems, he's just 270 RBIs away from passing A-Rod into sole third place.

Aaron's mark for career extra-base hits also seemed a possibility. No longer.

I'm venturing Moreno won't even consider doing anything until the end of this year. But, Phat Albert will be looked at very carefully in spring training. See poll at right to state your guess.


SAZ said...

This entire article is based on a false premise. As bad as he's been, Pujols has never been below a .600 OPS this season, or even particularly close. The lowest he got was .646 on July 2. A-Rod actually was below a .600 OPS by the time he was put out to pasture. I have absolutely no idea what you were looking at when you decided Pujols had fallen below .600, but supposedly "sabermetric" versions of arbitrary cutoff lines like Mendoza's should be based on reality, don't you think?

Gadfly said...

You're wrong, SAZ as of the date noted when I wrote this piece. That's exactly what I was looking at, on B-Ref, when I said he had a .599 OPS.

Every statistical measurement in baseball is based on an arbitrary cutoff line, too, like .300 instead of .299 BA.

Yes, he's gotten better since then. And, I noted the start of his getting better in an update. Let's see how well it turns out to be, and how long it lasts.

Please don't try to comment again.