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Welcome to the 600 Club Albert Pujols

Posted on June 04, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Albert Pujols became the 9th player in MLB history to reach 600 career home runs with a blast against the Twins on June 3rd.

Albert Pujols became the 9th player in MLB history to reach 600 career home runs with a blast against the Twins on June 3rd.

While reaching a milestone home run number is not as earthshaking news in the world of Major League Baseball as it once was, that does little to negate the impressive achievement of longtime slugger Albert Pujols. With a grand slam home run Saturday night, he became just the ninth player in major league history to reach 600 career home runs.

When Pujols first joined the St. Louis Cardinals in 2001, Major League Baseball’s 600 home run club consisted of three members in Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714) and Willie Mays (660) and had not added a new member in 30 years.

For multiple reasons that have been well chronicled, home run production has escalated in the last two decades and thus the number of players accumulating large career totals has also risen.

Beginning with Barry Bonds in 2002 and now including Pujols, six players have reached 600 home runs in the last 15 years. Bonds, who hit 509 home runs after turning 30 years old and 340 after turning 35, finished with a modern era record of 762. Alex Rodriguez completed his career with 696, Ken Griffey with 630, Jim Thome with 612 and Sammy Sosa with 609.

What is somewhat different for Pujols than the other five recent players is that he has reached the total through a long period of consistent numbers, without having one or two huge (50+) home run seasons.

During his 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, which included two World Series titles, Pujols finished in the top five in the MVP voting 10 times (three MVP Awards and ninth the other year) and hit at least 32 home runs every year with six seasons above 40 and a high of 49. He also had a .328 batting average for the Cardinals and drove home more than 100 runs 10 times.

Since moving to the Los Angeles Angels in 2012, Pujols has continued to post consistent power numbers, though his batting average has declined. With the exception of the 2013 season when injuries limited him to 99 games, Pujols has hit at least 28 home runs every season. He blasted 40 home runs in 2015 and last year added 31 homers with 119 RBI.

Though Pujols has not been linked to performance enhancement drugs in the same manner as some of the other recent sluggers, all modern sluggers are somewhat tainted by the meteoric increase in home runs.

That is one of the primary reasons that the recent pursuit of 600 homers by Pujols has received comparably little national coverage compared to past home run chases.

Undoubtedly, since Pujols is the only member of the 600 Club to hit all his homers in the 21st Century, when his career finally ends, Pujols will be remembered as the greatest slugger of his time.

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