The Los Angeles Angels designated Albert Pujols for assignment on Thursday. Pujols was in the final season of his 10-year, $240 million contract that he signed ahead of the 2012 season. Although Pujols is considered a future Hall of Famer, his decade with the Angels didn't work out so well for the ball club.
At the time that then-Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto got the deal done to lure Pujols from St. Louis to Anaheim in free agency, Pujols had already led the Cardinals to two World Series championships. Along with the success in St. Louis, Pujols was coming to the Angels with plenty of personal achievements, having taken home the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year Award as well as three NL MVP Awards in 2005, 2008 and 2009. The Angels understood that Pujols would be moving further away from his prime during the contract, but the team still expected him to help lead them to postseason success.
While Pujols, 41, was able to remain productive during his nine-plus seasons with the Angels, he never regained MVP form. He struggled in his debut season and then was slowed down by a barrage of lower-body injuries, including plantar fasciitis which he underwent surgery for in 2016. In Anaheim, Pujols had just one All-Star season -- in 2015 when he hit 40 home runs. Since 2016, Pujols has not hit more than 23 homers in a season.
While retirement could very well be the imminent move for Pujols, it's still unclear what's next. Before the DFA, Pujols was the oldest active player in the league. Our Mike Axisa suggested five possible landing spots for the slugger, if he were to decide to continue playing. If Pujols does decide to call it a career, he will finish with 667 home runs (fifth all-time), 2,112 RBI (third all-time), 3,253 hits and 2,886 games played.
For now though, we're taking a look back at Pujols' time with the Angels, by the numbers.
Pujols signed a $240 million deal with the Angels before the 2012 season. At the time it was the third-largest contract signed by a free agent in MLB history (trailing only two deals signed by Alex Rodriguez). It's now tied for the eight-richest free-agent deal in baseball history.
In 2021, Pujols had appeared in 24 of 29 games for the last-place Angels. He hit .198/.250/.372 with five homers and 12 RBI. This year's slash line marks career lows for the veteran. Pujols has not hit above .250 since 2016 and his slugging percentage is a collective .405 since the start of the 2017 season. Pujols had a .256 average during his 10 seasons with the Angels and never had a .300 season -- something he did 10 consecutive times in St. Louis.
0 Postseason wins
This may seem harsh, but it's the most glaring low of the last decade for Pujols and the Angels. Obviously, the Angels didn't sign this deal expecting Pujols to maintain the level of production he had in St. Louis. But they certainly were hoping for, minimum, four or five quality seasons to help them have some success in October.
It's not like Pujols was a stranger to success in the postseason -- he had played a total of 74 games in October with the Cards -- but the same can't be said for his time in Anaheim. With the Angels, Pujols played just three postseason games. Those three games were part of a sweep by the Kansas City Royals in the 2014 AL Division Series (and are also still the only playoff games of Mike Trout's career). The Angels never came close to a World Series title during Pujols run with the Angels.
1 AL West title
Ok, so there wasn't postseason success, but at least there was one division title won during Pujols time with the Angels. In 2014 -- Pujols' third season with the club -- the Angels finished the season with a 98-64 record and AL West title. The Angels finally broke through and won the division for the first time since 2009 and for the first time since Pujols joined the club in 2012.
Pujols, per Baseball-Reference's calculations, has been worth 99.4 WAR for his career. During his 11 seasons with the Cardinals, he amassed 86.6 WAR. That means Pujols was worth just 12.8 wins above replacement during his time in Anaheim. Pujols has been worth -2.0 WAR since the start of the 2017 season.
For Pujols, there were still some very significant milestones reached while with the Angels. As far as home runs go, Pujols proved he had a bit of power left in the second-half of his career, reaching the mark of 500, 600 and 661 home runs, all with the Angels.
During last year's abbreviated 60-game season, Pujols passed Willie Mays on the all-time home run list to take sole possession of fifth place during the abbreviated season with his 661st career home run. The only players in Major League history with more home runs than Pujols (667) are Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714) and Alex Rodriguez (696).
For runs batted in, Pujols also passed Alex Rodriguez on MLB's all-time RBI list to move into sole possession of second place all-time during the shortened 2020 season. Only the legendary Hank Aaron, who recorded 2,297 RBI in 23 seasons, stands in front of Pujols, who has 2,112 RBI. Pujols hit 222 homers and drove in 783 runs with the Angels.