Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Los Angeles Angels [Print without images]

Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Has Albert finally turned the corner?

By Mark Saxon

Albert Pujols told reporters Tuesday that his struggles this season largely have been the result of being overaggressive, of swinging at too many pitches out of the strike zone.

"Forty thousand people watching at the stadium could see that. People watching on TV could see that," he said. "I'm not doing that right now. I'm just putting good swings on it. Whenever it clicks, it clicks. Sometimes it takes awhile."

What appears to be happening -- even if it's in slow motion -- is that Pujols is easing back into a comfort zone, or at least the first stages of a comfort zone. In his first 27 games as an Angel, he batted .194 with zero home runs and five RBIs. In his last 16 games, he has batted .242 with four home runs and 15 RBIs. The batting average tells us he's still not the old Pujols, but the rest of his numbers suggest he's at least learning how to imitate him.

To his point, interestingly, we haven't seen his emphasis on patience translate into walks. He has just four of those in this 16-game stretch, about half his typical walk rate.

But here's how we know he still has plenty of time to obscure those memories of an ugly April and early May. If Pujols does what he did last year from this point forward, he will bat .282 with 34 home runs and 94 RBIs. Those numbers may not touch his MVP years, but they might be good enough to steer this season back where the Angels once thought it was headed.