May 1, 2012

A family affair

I have a theory about the possible cause of Albert’s struggles at the plate thus far. I don’t know much about hitting mechanics or how to break down a player’s swing, but that didn’t stop me from coming to my own conclusion about Albert’s poor offensive start.

 I don’t know Albert personally, but I get the impression that he’s quite the family man. What does this have to do with anything? I learned today that his family isn’t moving to California and that they’re staying in St. Louis. Dee Dee Pujols (Albert’s wife) was interviewed by a television station in St. Louis about their foundation (Pujols Family Foundation).

Dee Dee was talking about the foundation’s plans to remain in St. Louis and also expand to Kansas City, Nashville and Southern California. In the course of the interview it was revealed that Dee Dee plans to stay in St. Louis and raise the couple's children while continuing to focus on growing the foundation.

There it is.

Albert is in a new city with a new team and his family is still back in St. Louis. That has to have an impact on a man like Albert. To top it off, Dee Dee is four months pregnant with the couple’s fifth child.

Despite his nickname (The Machine), Albert is anything but that. I’m betting that being apart from his family is taking its toll. Think about it. This is a man who met the love of his life at an early age, married young and lived and worked in St. Louis with his wife and family by his side for many years. He slept in a home where his children were close by and his wife by his side. He had home cooked meals. He had someone to talk to, confide in, etc. after every game.

Not only has Albert had to adapt to new surroundings, new teammates, new pitchers in a different league; he’s had to adjust to life without his family by his side. That can’t be easy, I don’t care who you are.

Some people like Jon Heyman of CBS Sports might even think he’s a little crankier. Heyman called out Albert for calling out Mickey Hatcher.

Apparently, Hatcher told some Angel beat writers what Albert said in a team meeting and Albert took exception to it. Personally, I think Heyman is making a bigger deal out of Albert’s reaction than necessary. Given the circumstances - I'd cut Albert a little slack and I'm guessing Mickey Hatcher isn't all that upset with Albert's comments anyway.  It's not like Albert was blaming Hatcher for his struggles.

Look, Albert doesn’t have his support system around him and again, that has to be tough. Just saying – maybe, just maybe – that’s the root of his struggles thus far.

Albert has said many times that the Angels are his "new family."  I guess that's more true than even he realized.  There has to be an extra added strain to being away from his real family; especially with a daughter who has special needs and a wife who is four months pregnant.  There's the distance, the time difference and so much more.

And consider this - Albert is a man who thrives on routine and process and his whole routine is different now.

Maybe I'm off base, but I'm guessing I'm not and this more than anything else can explain his struggles.

Late addition: Mike Ferrin of SiriusXM's MLB Network radio gave me a link to a piece by Jon Morosi who interviewed Albert about his struggles and touched on the subject of being away from his family. Good stuff (relevant material near the end of the article).


  1. Albert Pujols, April 2011: .245/.305/.453. So I do not think it is his family's absence (though that can't be helping). He's not what he was, though the Angels are paying otherwise.

  2. I think you're definitely on to something, True Gritch. I know how non-functional I would be if my husband and I lived apart for months at a time, and we don't have children. I imagine not going home to his wife and children more days than not is extra taxing, especially when things aren't going well. Fortunately, if this is the case, new routines are easily built, it just takes time.

    - Kristen

  3. AnonymousMay 04, 2012

    If this is the case, then his Family needs to move out here at least during the season.