Albert Pujols is no stranger to sluggish starts.
Statistically speaking, April and May are the two worst months of his career by OPS. He's not quite Mark Teixeira, but in recent seasons he's looked like a shadow of himself during the spring. For the third year in a row, he slumped so badly out of the gate that many questioned whether we've seen the end of Albert Pujols as we know him--an elite offensive force and one of the best hitters of all time.
Once again, Pujols has proved such talk to be premature. Since June 4th he's belted five home runs, driven home 15 runs, and batted a Pujolsian .338/.400/.631 in 16 games.
He's back, which is hardly surprising. We've seen this movie before, so we know how it ends:
Pujols slumped at the beginning of his walk year after his contract negotiations with the St. Louis Cardinals fell through. The slugger went a month between home runs (April 23rd to May 23rd). Through May 29th was batting just .257/.326/.395 and had already grounded into 16 double plays
Rest of the way .322/.388/.623
Many players struggle immediately after signing a big contract (Carl Crawford, Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre), and Pujols was no exception. After signing the third largest deal in baseball history behind Alex Rodriguez's two megadeals, he didn't make a good impression with his new team. Pujols went homerless in April and didn't launch his first big fly of the season until May 6th. Through May 14th he was batting just .197/.235/.275, reminiscent of the brutal cold spells endured by David Ortiz in 2009 and '10.
Rest of the way .312/.374/.589
After hitting well--albeit without much power--in the first few weeks of April, Pujols went into an extended funk that saw his batting line plummet to .243/.315/.408 through June 3rd. There's no denying that age and injuries have diminished the three-time MVP, but he's raked since then, and will probably continue to rake throughout the rest of the summer. His rate stats aren't going to climb back up to his career marks, but he's a good bet to reach 30 home runs (something he's done every season) and 100 RBI (every year except 2011).