While we knew Jose Pujols had plenty of power while he was in short-season ball, he struggled to show it in game. While he flashed it, the keyword there is flash. However, he is starting to show more power in his start at Class-A Lakewood.
Considering he spent three seasons in short-season ball, it only made sense he debuted in full-season Lakewood this year. His seven home runs through 28 games already is more than any of his past seasons. While this torrid pace is most likely unsustainable, it shows that Pujols’s power is still there even as he continues through the minor league system.
What has helped the power spike is the fact his increased contact rate. His average is up from .238 in 2015 to .281 so far this year in Lakewood. Contact has been one of the major hurdles in Pujols’s development, and any improvement in the area would be great news.
However, upon some more inspection, we can see that all of Pujols’s home runs are to left field. Pujols hasn’t shown this strong of a pull tendency since 2013 when he was in the GCL. He has pushed some hits to the opposite field, but they haven’t been as frequent or as deeply hit. While the power has been there, it has been all to the pull side so far. That could change as Pujols adapts to the new competition level, but for now it’s something to keep an eye on.
Pujols’s contact is gilded as well. His strikeout rate has maintained its normally high percentage; it’s at 32.8% on the year. In the same light, Pujols’s BABIP has always been high, but it is especially high this year at .368. This could be fueling his as-noted average spike. Along with the heavy pull power, it is important to keep track of whether or not Pujols’s contact is truly improving.
Spray chart courtesy MLBFarm.com