When future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was released by the Los Angeles Angels earlier this season, many fans thought the 41-year-old was going to call it quits.
But instead, the Los Angeles Dodgers kept him in the league by inking him to a deal for the remainder of the 2021 season.
The move was largely written off as inconsequential, but Pujols has been able to contribute in a big way for the Dodgers.
The #Dodgers have gone 30-13 since signing Albert Pujols.
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) July 4, 2021
He still brings value to the table in a variety of ways.
We ranked them.
3. He Has Been A Pinch-Hitting Specialist
Pujols hasn’t started many games for the Dodgers, but he has entered countless games as a substitute.
Most of the time, the team turns to him in late-inning spots against left-handed pitchers.
The 10-time All-Star crushes lefties.
In 2021, he is batting .325 with a 1.020 OPS against them.
He has come through in some major spots, too.
Most recently, he clubbed a go-ahead, pinch-hit RBI single in the seventh inning of the Dodgers’ win on Sunday.
If you look up clutch in the dictionary, you’ll see a photo of him pic.twitter.com/6za7HTDRNV
— Blake Harris (@BlakeHarrisTBLA) July 4, 2021
2. There’s No Need For Splits—His Overall Numbers With The Dodgers Are Fine, Too
Relative to expectations, Pujols’ overall numbers with the Dodgers are great.
Sure, they look even better when you divvy them up like we did in the above section, but his overall production has been just fine.
He is batting .247 with a .745 OPS and a 105 OPS+ with his new club.
For reference, he hasn’t finished a season with an OPS+ above 100 since 2016.
He has found new life in Dodger Blue, and he is going to get a chance to win his third World Series ring along the way.
1. His Veteran Leadership Is Irreplaceable
Very few players have been around the block like Pujols has.
The MLB legend is in his 21st season and has been through his fair share of ups and downs.
At his best, Pujols was arguably the best hitter in baseball.
He won three MVP awards, six Silver Slugger awards, and took home a batting title.
Over the first 11 years of his career (all of which came with the St. Louis Cardinals), he batted .328 with a 1.037 OPS and a 170 OPS+.
That means that, over an 11-year sample size, he managed to post an OPS+ that was 70 percent better than league-average.
But as mentioned, he knows what it’s like to go through a rut, too.
Since that 11-year span ended after the 2011 season, he has managed a batting average of just .256 and an OPS of .758 over his past 10 campaigns.
And since 2017, he has an OPS of just .696.
He is a shell of his best self, and there is no doubt that his downfall has been frustrating for him.
All of these experiences allow him to relate to almost any player in the Majors.
The Dodgers have their fair share of inexperienced players in guys like Gavin Lux, Will Smith and Zach McKinstry, and if the going ever gets tough for any of the young studs, Pujols is the perfect guy to guide them through it.
But his leadership doesn’t stop with the team’s youth.
He is a glue guy in every sense.
Pujols is still finding ways to be productive.