The list, and the wait, grow longer

Dee Gordon hit the first home run of his career Tuesday. Gordon isn’t know for his power; he’s known for his speed. One day he’ll probably tag up from second and score on a pop-up to shortstop.

Dee Gordon has more homers this year than Albert Pujols.

Jose Tabata homered for the first time this year Tuesday. With nine career long balls in 812 at-bats, that’s about one home runs every 90 at-bats.

Jose Tabata has more homers this year than Albert Pujols.

Rafael Furcal went deep Tuesday for the initial time this season. He actually has more than 100 career home runs, maxing out at 15 in a single season twice, but he’s always been known as a speedy (and oft-injured) leadoff hitter.

Rafael Furcal has more homers this year than Albert Pujols.

Cory Snyder, Gordon Beckham and Mark Kotsay all did something Tuesday they hadn’t done before in the 2012 regular season. Care to guess what it was? Care to guess what it means?

Thus far, 252 players have hit at least one home run this season. Albert Pujols is not one of those players.

This is not a vengeful rambling of a Cardinals fan rejoicing in the pain of a former hero (though I am a Cardinals fan). No, this is an inquiry into when one of the great hitters in the game’s long history will start performing as we all expect him to.

Sure, the signs of decline have been evident the last few years, with Pujols’ triple-slash line steadily declining from .357/.462/.653 (1.114 OPS) in 2008 to .299/.366/.541 (906 OPS) in 2011. But last year’s OPS+ was still a healthy 148; it’s not like Pujols was Adam Dunn bad, where we weren’t sure he’d ever bounce back. He still had 37 home runs in 2011, an identical number to his 2008 total.

Knocking the ball over the fence has never been a problem for Pujols, who “bottomed out” in 2007 with a mere 32 long balls. But for some reason—the pressure of his new contract, moving to a new league, having to spend too much time in perfect SoCal weather—that first home run has yet to clear the fence.

Now, we all know it will come, and when it does, it’s likely Pujols will pull out of his funk and start shredding the ball as he typically does. But for now, it gives us a chance to speculate.

So, when will Pujols finally join the gaggle of players who have knocked a ball over the fence? Make your guess in the comments section, and we’ll see who comes closest to predicting the date Albert Pujols’ homerless drought died.

I’m going with Saturday, May 5, against Toronto’s Kyle Drabek (though tonight’s match-up against Liam Hendricks—WHO?—is enticing).

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Comments

  1. Shane Tourtellotte said...

    I’m going to avoid the inevitable cluster of guesses in the next few games, and go long.  Pujols’s first home run will be on Friday, May 11th, at Arlington.  In his second plate appearance.  Yes, the agony will stretch out for more than another week.  Savor it.

    A point related to my recent Holland posts:  several days ago he and I were watching part of an Angels game.  There was a lingering close-up of a brooding Albert Pujols after his latest failure at the plate, while the announcers talked in very concerned tones.  Holland’s comment:  “Why are they zooming in on his nose?”

    Yes, things are getting a bit obsessive.  But really, you have to expect it.

  2. Chris Lund said...

    As the resident Jays fan, I’m betting on Pujols’ first being a walkoff against Toronto in the next four games. CoCo has been an absolute mess late in games and I expect that trend to continue.

    I’ll go Friday, after Henderson Alvarez throws another great game, Pujols wins it for the Angels off of another Cordero beach ball.

    Also, Jeff Mathis has two more homers than Albert. Think about that.

  3. Paul G. said...

    My guess is in interleague play.  Pencil me in for May 19th against the Padres.  Expect sports reporters to note that he finally hit his first homer in a very difficult home run park.

    Though at this point it would not surprise me if he got hurt, missed the rest of the season, and the answer is “2013.”

  4. David Wade said...

    Just traded for Pujols in one of my fantasy leagues.  He will hit his first in his first game as a Blue Turd, which will be Monday.

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