2009 MLB National League Central Notebook
Nothing has really changed with St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols. Baseball’s arguably best hitter continues to show great power with a great eye.
Pujols is batting .341 through his first 11 games with four home runs. But he continues to demonstrate how much he will swing at what he believes is a strike. He has drawn nine walks and struck out only once his first 41 at bats.
For his career, Pujols has shown a great penchant for making pitchers work until he gets something he can drive. He has walked 703 times and struck out only 507. Those are the types of numbers that Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Stan Musial put up in their day.
Today’s power hitters have such an imbalanced number of strikeouts and walks.
And keep this in mind about Pujols. He is the only player in baseball history to have managed to hit .300 with 30 home runs, 100 RBIs and score at least 99 runs in his first eight seasons.
That’s why it wasn’t surprising that he won the 2008 National Most Valuable Player award because he rarely gave away at bats. Of course, early season projections are the least reliable indicators. But at this rate, Pujols would walk 133 times and strike out only 15 times for the 2009 season.
Bringing Milton Bradley on over was thought to have bolstered the Cubs’ offense this year. So far, it’s been a disappointment. Bradley did not start for three straight games last week because of problems with a groin.
Before the injury, Bradley had not been delivering. He was hitting .056 through his first 18 at bats. That one hit was a home run April 10 at Milwaukee. Bradley’s famous temper also is still running hot. He was thrown out of the April 16 game against St. Louis after arguing balls and strikes following his pinch hit appearance.
The all-or-nothing Brewers are really that. Through the first nine games, they have belted 12 home runs. But they have also struck out 73 times. That’s an average of eight times per game.
Milwaukee’s team batting average is also .223, one of the lowest in baseball. Not surprisingly, the Brewers have been slow starting the season at 3-6. What’s kind of scary is that Cory Hart and Prince Fielder have already struck out 10 times this season.
It’s probably a low risk move. But the Pirates decided to try and find some life in star-crossed outfielder Delwyn Young to their lineup.
On April 15, they traded two young players or cash to Los Angeles for the switch hitting outfielder. Young will likely start on manager John Russell’s bench. Young has been known as an offensive player, but he has battled through injuries. In just 110 games over three seasons, he has only three home runs with 10 RBIs.
Right-hander David Weathers is one of those relievers who has found a way to make a living but sticking around because he’s been good enough.
On April 14, Weathers became the 20 th pitcher Major League history to make his 900 th appearance. Weathers pitched the eighth inning against Milwaukee. The 39-year-old, who started in 1991 with Toronto, doesn’t plan on stopping either.
Figure that he will likely get up to about 960 appearances this season, Weathers will definitely make it a point to try and get to 1,000 in 2010. He is second among all active pitchers in appearances. Trevor Hoffman has 930.
If there were questions surrounding manager Cecil Cooper’s job security, some of the talk fell silent earlier in the week when the Astros won the last two games of their series in Pittsburgh.
It really hasn’t been a good start for the 3-6 Astros. They are hitting .236 as a team, teammates Hunter Pence and Lance Berkman lead the team with four RBIs each. Meanwhile, the pitching staff has a 5.74 ERA and had only one stolen base through the first eight games.
By Kevin Lonnquist
> View all of the 2008 MLB team previews from Pro Baseball Fans