The clock is about to strike midnight on the career of Albert Pujols, a man whose earned his place among the greatest hitters in history. Back in the cardinal red and powder blue of the St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols is nearing a milestone as he writes the final paragraphs of his epic baseball story.
Pujols is only six homers away from 700 as I write this column. If he gets the six he needs, he will become just the fourth man in Major League Baseball history to do so. The round number is nice, but it’s not why #700 would be special. No, there’s more to Phat Albert getting to the milestone.
It’s about integrity.
Probably the only thing Albert Pujols has ever been dishonest about in baseball is his age. We suspect, most people suspect, that Albert is at least a couple years older than he told the Cardinals when they scouted and signed him.
But fibbing about your age (especially when you’re a Latin-born player trying to secure a contract as a professional athlete) is one thing. But, using banned substances to hit the baseball a long way is something different.
One of the three players to reach 700, Barry Bonds, was a cheater. And another scoundrel slugger, Alex Rodriguez, nearly did it: Alex Rodriguez ended his disgraceful career with 696.
If Albert gets to 700, he’ll be the first honest player to do it in nearly 50 years. It was in 1973 when Hank Aaron doubled the number of members in The 700 Club (not that club). The following April, Aaron broke Babe Ruth‘s career mark, eclipsing 714, one of sport’s most sacred numbers.
When Bonds used his lab connections to soar past Aaron and Ruth, most of baseball was embarrassed by the feat. By that time, the only people who thought Bonds was legit were people who shared the surname Bonds or had Giants season tickets. It’s easy to make excuses when it’s your guy doing the steroids.
No one can accuse Pujols of cheating. He’s been an exemplary citizen of the game since he debuted in Mark McGwire‘s last season. Yes, for several months in 2001, Pujols and McGwire were in the same clubhouse: the at-that-time revered Big Mac and the young phenom. Now, more than two decades later, with Pujols more than 100 homers ahead of McGwire, the Cardinals seem to have almost erased the Great Home Run Chase of 1998 from memory. In its place are dozens of wonderful moments from Pujols as arguably the greatest player in Cardinals history.
If Pujols adds his name to the 700 homer club, he adds his credibility to that of Aaron and Ruth, who was only ever guilty of eating too many hot dogs, drinking too much beer, and chasing lots of women.
The Cardinals regular season ends on October 5, which will be the 18th anniversary of Pujols home run in Game One of the 2004 NL Division Series, a game (and series) won by St. Louis. But, the 2022 Cardinals will most likely play on, with Albert having another chance for postseason heroics.
Every baseball fan should enjoy the final at-bats of his career, and let them serve as a reminder that some people still do things the right way.
Albert Pujols Home Run Facts
Most Victimized Pitchers by Albert Pujols
- Ryan Dempster … 8
- Wade Miller … 6
- Aaron Harang … 5
- Randy Johnson … 5
- Roy Oswalt … 5
- Ian Snell … 5
- Chris Capuano … 5
- Carlos Zambrano … 5
- Derek Holland … 5
- Odalis Perez … 5
Pujols is also nearing 500 home run off right-handed pitchers:
vs RHP 496
vs LHP 198
Home Runs by Pujols by Team:
St. Louis Cardinals … 460
Los Angeles Angels … 222
Los Angeles Dodgers … 12
Pujols, Most Homers by Opponent
- Astros … 62
- Chicago Cubs … 58
- Pirates … 52
- Reds … 47
- Brewers … 45
- Mariners … 31
- Rangers … 30
Pujols Home Runs by Location:
Left Field … 347
Left-Center … 163
Center Field … 98
Right-Center … 38
Right Field … 48
These numbers are current through games played August 29, 2022.
Thanks so much for this HONEST evaluation of the Homerun records. I think it’s time for Baseball to do something about the FRAUDS in the record book. Hank Aaron is and always will be the TRUE Homerun King. The Steroid Enhanced records should be VOIDED and removed from the record book.These so called records destroy the integrity of our game.
I would love to see you continue with this train orof thought in further articles
Best of luck in the future.