Pujols finally homers; Angels — and their checkbooks — breathe a sigh of relief

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

AP Photo/Chris Carlson

The Los Angeles Angels are paying Albert Pujols a lot of money to hit home runs.

In the first year of a $240 million contract, the Angels’ new slugger was expected to add a massive power presence in the middle of the lineup. But for more than a month, Pujols was still without a single home run.

Not really an ideal situation for a team that won just 11 of their first 28 games and found themselves 7.5 games out of first place in the AL West on May 5, dead-last in the division.

By my math, Pujols stands to make $74,074 every single time he plays a game this season, so he had already banked $2,148,148 before he left the yard for the first time on Sunday afternoon.

Now, those four season tickets, hotel suite on every road trip and every other perk he is contractually obligated to receive are finally starting to pay themselves off.

“Just be patient — he’ll get it going,” the entire sports world said.

It isn’t just home runs that have been faltering. Pujols is batting just .196 so far, and he’s reaching base less than 24 percent of the time. Those are both shells of his career averages; Pujols is a lifetime .326 hitter, and his on-base percentage in the majors is .418.

Sounds to me like ol’ Albert is allergic to the American League.

Or maybe it’s the Angels’ presence that makes him hyperventilate — in the three years before coming to town, Pujols was 0-for-10 against the Angels, making them the only team he played against in the last three years that he went hitless against. But since none of those at-bats came in Angel Stadium, I think we can rule that out as a reason.

LA needs Pujols to get it together and stay hot for the rest of the summer because they’re chasing a really good Texas Rangers team. They also need him to start producing because that gigantic contract they gave their new star only gets bigger until it peaks at $30 million for the 2021 season.

If Albert can’t find his rhythm, there’s no way he’ll make that $500,000 bonus for winning the American League MVP award. And there’s definitely no chance in you-know-where he’ll make his $100,000 extra for being the World Series MVP.

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