Despite nicks, Pujols sustains prowess at plate

Despite nicks, Pujols sustains prowess at plate

ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols has enjoyed a productive year, but it's uncertain if the slugger will play this weekend against the Astros, the final series of the season for the Angels.

Pujols, fourth in the Majors with 119 RBIs, is dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, which has forced him to miss the last two games. He's played through pain for some time, and his return to the lineup is dependent on how the foot responds, according to manager Mike Scioscia.

"It's got to the point right now where we don't want to put him at risk," Scioscia said, adding that there's no anticipation of Pujols needing offseason surgery.

Pujols has battled foot issues in the past, but he's been able to play 152 games this season, hitting .268/.323/.457 with 19 doubles and 31 home runs. The Angels will take that production from the 36-year-old slugger.

"You couldn't have asked for more than he did this year for us," Scioscia said. "There's no doubt that the talent is there, and it's real. He had an incredible season for us."

As he finishes up his 16th season in the Majors, Pujols remains an elite hitter. In fact, his average exit velocity this season, as measured by Statcast™, is 92.48 mph, up a tick from his 91.68-mph average last year.

"I think if you look at his bat speed, his exit velocity, all the analytics, you look at his swing path, it's all there," Scioscia said.

Pujols' RBI total is his highest since 2010, when he led the National League with 118 as a member of the Cardinals. His previous high with the Angels was 105, set in 2012 and '14. Scioscia believes those numbers could increase next year, if the Angels improve their lineup depth over the offseason.

"I think you'll see the real impact that Albert will have on a team if our lineup gets deeper," Scioscia said. "This year, we definitely set the table better for him and [Mike Trout], and it had an impact on our offense and our run production. I would think that if we can set the table and he's going to stay healthy, we're going to see more of the same moving forward."

Pujols said he's been pleased with the offensive production around him this year, particularly from Trout, leadoff man Yunel Escobar, Kole Calhoun and C.J. Cron.

"I like our offense," said Pujols, who this year joined Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron as the only players in Major League history with 575 homers and 600 doubles. "We can match against anybody. When we're healthy, we can do things."

Without going into specifics, Pujols said there are some adjustments he can make in the offseason in regard to his nagging foot issues.

"I know what I need to do to get myself ready, and I've been doing it for 17 years as a professional," Pujols said. "I know what I need to figure out. I know the adjustments that I need to make, and that's it."

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.