To piggyback on Red Baron's post from this morning, which I found to be insightful and thought-provoking, I thought I'd do a quick analysis of the post-Pujols batting order production. The normal early season caveat of *small sample size* applies. We aren't even to game #10, but it is still indicative of there being little consequence to teams who decided to pitch around Pujols in this very, very young 2008 season.
The overall production for the No. 4 Hole is not very good:
27 AB / .222 BA / .333 OBP / .296 SLG / .630 OPS / 2 2B / 0 HR / 3 RBI
While placing us in the middle of the pack relative to other clubs, it is reminiscent of 2007, when we had the worst cleanup production (last in Slugging Percentage, last in Batting Average, fifth-to-last in HR, 20th in RBI) in all of Major League Baseball:
627 AB / .246 BA / .320 OBP / .386 SLG / .706 OPS / 24 2B / 20 HR / 103 RBI
However, the No. 5 Hole has been abusing the baseball in early going of this season:
31 AB / .323. BA / .364 OBP / .613 SLG / .977 OPS / 4 2B / 1 HR / 6 RBI
This is hopefully an indicator of the rest of this season as it is markedly better than the anemic production the No. 5 Hole gave us in 2007, when Cardinal No. 5 hitters ranked last in MLB in Batting Average, seventh to last in OBP, last in MLB in Slugging Percentage, last in HR (with 10), and fifth to last in RBI.
621 AB / .246 BA / .317 OBP / .357 SLG / .675 OPS / 35 2B / 10 HR / 81 RBI
Finding a viable power threat in the cleanup hole is imperative for the Cards leveraging Albert Pujols' offensive skills to a maximum this season. Whether it be Ankiel or Duncan or a player-to-be-named later.