The goal of Albert Pujols’s career, which is to hit 700 home runs, is not exactly a well guarded secret. Even as his career was going downhill with the Angels, and any hope of surpassing Barry Bonds for the career record was extinguished entirely, the possibility of doing what Alex Rodriguez did not and becoming the fourth player to join baseball’s 700-homer club loomed as a distant, but not impossible, coda to a fantastic career for him. Even though his career was going downhill with the Angels, and any hope of surpassing Barry Bonds for the career record was extinguished entirely,
Pujols seemed to be enjoying life in baseball for the first time in many years after spending some time with the Dodgers at the close of the previous season. This was the first time in many years that Pujols had spent time with another team. Those positive feelings continued over into this season thanks, in part, to the fact that the player went back to St. Louis for one more run with the Cardinals.
Recently, Pujols was quoted as saying, “I’m the grandfather in this clubhouse.” “This is one heck of a good moment for me.”
However, as of July 4, it seemed like all chance of reaching 700 had been lost. That day’s performance against Atlanta, in which he went 0-for-2, contributed to a drop in his batting average for the season to.189. Only four of his team’s home runs counted toward his career total, which stood at 683 at the time of his retirement.
For a player who already has a lengthy resume that includes 14 seasons with at least 30 home runs, the target of 17 home runs in 80 games may not have seemed to be an impossible obstacle. But the fact that he was only playing part-time and that he had a terrible performance at the bat gave the impression that Pujols’ farewell trip was almost completely ceremonial. Both he and catcher Yadier Molina are being honoured in their last game in practically every road city.
Then, though, a shift took place. Since his 0-fer on July 4, Albert Pujols has regained his old Cardinals form, and it will be up to the biographers to determine whether or whether this was because he felt healthier, his chances became better, or because some type of desperation stepped in. Up until Sunday, he had a batting average of.408 with an on-base percentage of.459 and a slugging percentage of.829 during a run of 28 games. It was announced on Monday that he and Paul Goldschmidt, another player on the Cardinals, had been selected as co-players of the week in the National League.
Pujols’s batting average since July 5 (minimum 80 plate appearances) was the highest among all players until Sunday, but more importantly, he had hit nine home runs, bringing his total number of career home runs to 692. The next time he reached base, it was in the seventh inning of Monday’s game against the Cubs in Chicago. This time, it was hit number 693.
During the hot streak, Albert Pujols moved up to second place on the all-time record for total bases, moving over Stan Musial to do so; he is now second only to Hank Aaron, and also collected a pair of games in which he hit two home runs. Pujols now has three of the twelve multiple-homer games that have ever been recorded by a player age 42 or older. He added another two-homer game in May, bringing his total to three.
It has gotten to the point where it looks as if Albert Pujols is ascending some kind of career or age-based leaderboard in almost every game. Just from Saturday’s game, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recorded eight different instances of this happening.
With all of this in mind, Pujols is now just four home runs away from moving above Rodriguez (696) for fourth place on the all-time record of home runs and seven home runs away from hitting 700 for his career. The Cardinals still have 39 games left on their schedule for this season.
Just so there is no misunderstanding, the chances are still stacked against him. Due to the fact that he is most successful when batting against left-handed pitchers — the home run he hit on Monday was off a left-handed pitcher named Drew Smyly — as well as the fact that his age and various ailments limit his playing time even further than that, he cannot afford to go through anything that resembles a slump.
The only thing that could possibly surpass the hot streak or Pujols’s finding a way to go to 700 hits would be one more lengthy playoff run for the slugger and his original squad. This would be the only thing that could possibly happen. After all, Albert Pujols was the driving force behind the St. Louis Cardinals’ two victories in the World Series back when it seemed certain that he would eventually eclipse Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Barry Bonds on the all-time home run record.