Well, I had to work during yesterday's game, and I can't say that I feel too horrible about having missed that. This is Izzy's second appearance in a losing game this season. I forgot the feeling of having your closer pitch in an uncontested game, just needing to get his work in. Can't say that I missed that particular feeling. We all are quite aware that the pitching is holding up more than was expected--the Cardinals forty six runs thus far is enough for their pitching staff to rank in seventh place amongst major league squads, and second in the NL (Mets, Dodgers). Also clear is the fact that the offense is simply struggling mightily. Every single player on the roster, with the exception of Chris Duncan, seems to slumping and pressing and struggling mightily. Zubin was kind enough to assemble a side by side video of Albert's first home run on Sunday, interspersed aside one from his destruction of the Reds on Easter 2006. The latter is on the left, the former on the right. Video appears below the fold.
These two homers are against two different pitchers, and the pitches delivered are two different pitches. But there are a few things that are starkly different in the two videos. Zubin notes that the swing is slower and more compact now versus last year, and that the follow through is different. The main difference I see, however, is that Albert doesn't seem to really be using his legs in the 2007 shot--the 2006 blast has him turning on his legs, allowing him to use the full power of his body in his swing. The 2007 shot shows none of this--he seems to be hitting the ball with nothing but his upper body. The footwork just looks so severely different in the two shots that I can't help but think that this might be a primary source of the problem. I do remember a similar flaw developing in Mark McGwire during his decline phase--he lost the ability to drive from his leges, and just became increasingly dependent on lofting balls over the fence. The enheartening thing is that McGwire was an older player on the decline by the time that flaws in his swing began to develop. Pujols, however, is young, and there is every indication that he enventually will be able to bust out of this slump. Or else, I don't want to think about the ramifications for this team.