Cleat Geeks

How Many Home Runs Will “The Machine” End Up With?

A milestone-filled season continued for Albert Pujols as the Los Angeles Angels slugger officially passed Jim Thome for seventh place on the all-time home run list. Pujols launched homer No. 613 of his Hall of Fame-worthy career in the bottom of the ninth last week in a loss to the Houston Astros. It came against Houston reliever Chris Devenski. In passing Thome, the 37-year-old Pujols is officially chasing Ken Griffey Jr., who ranks sixth all-time with 630 career homers. Barry Bonds (762 home runs), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), Alex Rodriguez (696) and Willie Mays (660) are the only other home-run hitters Pujols now trails. Pujols also padded his lead among active players. The next closest players on that list are Adrian Beltre and Miguel Cabrera, who each have 461 home runs. Coming into 9/15/2016, here are some “Geeky” numbers that I had the time to look up. According to baseball reference.com, Albert Pujols had homered off 395 different pitchers, homered in 37 different ballparks, has hit 458 off right-handed pitchers with 155 off left-handed pitchers, both Busch Stadiums and Minute Maid Park have been his favorite places to hit home runs. Pujols has been better on the road, hitting 324 home runs compared to hitting 289 at his home parks in both St. Louis and Anaheim. Pujols has hit more home runs on 1-1 counts (87) than any other counts and has homered with 1 out in the inning (222) compared to hitting home runs with 0 outs or 2 outs in the inning.

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Pujols started the season with 591 home runs. He became the ninth member of the 600 home run club on June 3 when he launched a dramatic grand slam against the Twins. Pujols has since passed Sammy Sosa, which made him the all-time home run leader among foreign born players. Pujols is far from the player he was in his prime. He’s certainly nowhere near the player the Angels hoped he could still be this deep into his 30s when they signed him to a 10-year, $240 million deal before the 2012 season. Still, he can hit enough that he Image result for albert pujolsremains a key contributor on an Angels team that’s in the thick of the postseason race. As long as he’s reasonably healthy, there’s hope he can heat up and perhaps get them to the finish line.

The big question is how far Pujols will be able to take this? Beyond this season, he has four years to go on his 10-year, $240 million contract. He’s 37. His feet are battered and beaten from plantar fasciitis, making him a designated hitter for the remainder of his career. Pujols has trouble running, but he still can rake with power. Are 700 homeruns inconceivable? Is the all-time leader, Barry Bonds at 762, unthinkable? Bonds had just turned 43 when he broke Hank Aaron’s record of 755 on Aug. 8, 2007, nearly 10 years ago. In 2021, Pujols will be 41. Pujols has a slew of milestones directly ahead of him. Perhaps the most significant is 3,000 hits. He’s 124 away, so early next season; he could conceivably become the 32nd player to reach that milestone. Aaron, Alex Rodriguez and Willie Mays are the only three players with at least 600 homers and 3,000 hits. I believe if Pujols can average 20-25 home runs and still play between 140-155 games a year by the time the contract expires, he will reach to 700 home runs at the most.

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