April 17, 2013
The Week In Albert Pujols Playing Through Pain
In case you missed Albert Pujols getting thrown out at first to end the game last night, don't worry, it's not too late to catch him running the final few yards.
Haha. That was a joke. Hahaha. A joke about time, and how small differences in time can seem much bigger relative to the situation. In fact, Pujols reached first base long, long ago, just a second or so later than Mike Trout would have finished had he hit the same ball at the same time. But seriously, Albert Pujols is in a lot of pain right now because of plantar faciitis, and his recovery from knee surgery, and what his manager refers to collectively as "some stuff in his lower body." Because of that, he's having a hard time running to first base. It's hard to watch, because you can imagine how much pain he's in, and yet it bears watching closely because you have to wonder how long he can hold this together, and whether he'll play more than a dozen more games at first base this year, and what either situation might mean for the Angels.
So this is The Week In Albert Pujols Playing Through Pain, the first part in a series that is unlikely to have a second part. For reference, as of two years ago Albert Pujols could run from home to first in a time somewhere between 4.5 and 4.7 seconds. (See him trying to beat out double plays here and here to see where I got those times.) In the past week, Pujols hit 11 groundballs in the infield. He did not have any times to first between 4.5 and 4.7 seconds.
Fastest time: 5.11 seconds.
That's the last play of last night's game, when Pujols was up with two outs in the ninth representing the tying run. He hit the ball to the third baseman and was thrown out by the shortstop, so you have an idea of how that went. Here's the visual:
and the down-the-line shot:
5.11 seconds is very slow. About a half-second slower than David Ortiz, for instance (though Ortiz bats left-handed). He takes a long time to get going; and, once he does, you can see, or at least imagine, his legs starting to stiffen up and break down toward the end. This is not happy watching, unless you think the world has gotten too fast and you wish we could all just slow down.
Slowest time: All of the time until the earth burns up
You can see Pujols standing at home plate while Matt Dominguez fields it; he never got out of the box. It's not immediately clear what's happening -- the ball wasn't as close to being foul as it might look in this GIF, so it's not that he was fooled on fair/foul. He turned to the home-plate umpire afterward as though he was arguing that it hit off his foot. But Mike Scioscia said it wasn't that, but that Pujols felt his knee catch on the swing. And if you watch his front leg, it does wobble awkwardly. The crowd booed.
Average time (excluding the infinite time on the grounder above): 5.89 seconds
And here's a log of each, including a shot of how close he got to first base on each play.
First inning, 5-3 putout, 6.34 seconds
Fourth inning, 6-3 putout, 6.03 seconds
First inning, 5-3 putout, infinite minutes and infinite seconds
Fourth inning, 4-3 putout, 5.89 seconds
Sixth inning, 6-4-3 double play, 5.25 seconds
First inning, 4-3 putout, 6.59 seconds
Third inning, 5-3 putout, 5.72 seconds
Third inning, 5-3 putout, 6.59 seconds
Fifth inning, 6-3 putout, 5.22 seconds
Eighth inning, 5-3 putout, 6.19 seconds
Ninth inning, 5-6-2 putout, 5.11 seconds
This article, incidentally, has the headline "Albert Pujols won't let sore foot slow him down."
So maybe it'll go.
*note: all times are based on my unprofessional measurements.