This past Saturday, history was made in Anaheim when Albert Pujols came to the plate. He hit 9th home run of the year and his 600th of his career. By doing that, Pujols became the 9th player in the history of baseball to reach that mark. He joins the likes of Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), Alex Rodriguez (696), Willie Mays (660), Ken Griffey Jr. (630), Jim Thome (612), and Sammy Sosa (609). It’s truly been a remarkable career for Albert and after this accomplishment, it’s time to look back at his career and legacy.
Albert Pujols was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals all the way back 1999. Being a relative unknown prospect from the Dominican Republic, Pujols was not drafted until the 402nd pick overall in the 13th round. After making an impression in the 2001 spring training, slugger Mark McGwire (entering his final season) told manager Tony La Russa that “it might be one of the worst moves you make in your career.” Pujols made the opening day roster and the rest was history. He ran away with the NL Rookie of the Year award as he hit .320 with 37 home runs and an NL rookie record a 130 RBIs. Not bad for a 21 year old rookie. Pujols began to become the face of baseball over the next few years including leading the 105 win Cardinals to the 2004 World Series. He went on to win his 1st of 3 MVPs in 2005 and his 1st of 2 titles in 2006. After spending 11 seasons in St. Louis, Pujols moved on and signed a 10 year 254 million dollar deal with the Los Angeles Angels in 2012.
One thing that has defined Albert Pujols for me has been durability and his consistency. Other than 2013, he has played at least 143 games every single season. He’s had 12 seasons of at least 150 games and is on pace to do that again this season. Other than that 2013 season again, Pujols has had an All-Star caliber year every single year he’s played. In my opinion, his worst season was 2015 where he hit .244 with 40 home runs and drove in 95 runs. I’d say that most players today would be lucky to do that in one year. While Pujols is nowhere near the player he used to be, he still one of the better hitters in the game at age 37. 600 is an amazing accomplishment and considering 3 members of the 600 club (Bonds, Rodriguez, and Sosa) have heavy PED connections, it makes it that more special. Pujols has never been connected to steroids, in fact he has been very forward with taking tests on multiple occasions. So hitting your 600th home run in this age and doing to clean is something truly special. So take a moment and appreciate the career of Albert Pujols. He one of the 10 greatest hitters of all-time and he won’t be around for long.
Written By: Steven Santoro (SVS_1993)