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Albert Pujols in search of 700 home runs: Everything to learn as Cardinals legend moves in on milestone

The baseball gods have gifted us two thrilling home run chases in 2022. NY Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is creating a run at 61 homers, Roger Maris’ American League record. Over in the National League, St. Louis Cardinals legend and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols is approaching the hallowed 700 homers milestone.

Pujols swatted his 696th career home run on Sept. 10, tying him with Alex Rodriguez for fourth most in MLB history. The 42-year-old Pujols rejoined the Cardinals this year and it’s greater than a farewell tour. He’s been an extremely productive platoon bat, recently going deep seven times in a 10-game span to create 700 homers a genuine possibility. He hit No. 694 against lefty Ross Detwiler, the 450th different pitcher he took deep in his career. That topped Barry Bonds for the all-time record.

Needless to say, Pujols would probably have previously hit his 700th homer or even for the shortened pandemic season in 2020, but that has been beyond his control.

So, the question on everyone’s mind is can Pujols actually reach 700 career home runs prior to the end of the growing season? Here’s what you should know about Pujols attempting to end up being the fourth person in the 700-homer club.

All-time home run leaderboard

Pujols currently sits in a tie for fourth on the all-time home run leaderboard and, given his recent hot streak, he could transfer to sole possession of fourth place relatively soon. Only three sluggers ever sold have hit 700 home runs:

  1. Barry Bonds: 762
  2. Hank Aaron: 755
  3. Babe Ruth: 714
  4. Alex Rodriguez: 696,Albert Pujols: 696 and counting

For what it’s worth, Pujols has averaged one homer ever 16.3 at-bats in his career, that is a top-40 mark ever sold but does lag behind other premium power hitters. Mark McGwire may be the all-time leader with one homer every 10.61 at-bats. Giancarlo Stanton may be the leader among active players with 13.82 at-bats per homer.

Remember that, should Pujols pass A-Rod on the career home run leaderboard, he’ll take over because the all-time home run leader among infielders. Bonds, Aaron and Ruth were primarily outfielders. Pujols has spent almost all his career initially base. Jim Thome may be the only other primary infielder with 600 career home runs. He could be eighth on the all-time list with 612.

Historical relevance

The historical relevance of 700 homers is obvious. Only three players have ever done it, and there is a chance we might never see another player approach the milestone inside our lifetimes. Unless Miguel Cabrera finds the elixir of youth and hangs on another couple of years, the active player with the very best chance at 700 homers is … probably Juan Soto? He joined the 100-homer club at age 23 earlier this year and has an extremely, very long strategy to use. It’s not ordinarily a player approaches 700 homers.

As some fans and certain segments of the media are wont to accomplish, we are able to attach asterisks to just about anyone on the all-time home run list. Bonds was linked to performance-enhancing drugs. A-Rod admitted to with them in multiple seasons. Ruth played before integration. Aaron played when amphetamines, now a banned substance, were prevalent through the entire game. Any kind of on-field controversy involving Pujols lacks convincing evidence. It is possible to never be 100 percent sure, but Pujols and his reputation are as squeaky clean because they come.

How often should he play?

At this time in his career, Pujols is really a lefty masher and a lefty masher only. It’s been years since he was a viable hitter against righties. The Cardinals know about this, and Pujols is seeing an increased percentage of at-bats against lefties because the season has progressed.

Pujols has hit 12 of his 16 home runs against lefties this year, including nine of his last 10.

The Cardinals have among baseball’s best records because the trade deadline and they’ve separated themselves from the Brewers a little in the NL Central race. The division race isn’t over, but St. Louis is certainly in the driver’s seat at this time having an eight-game lead entering Saturday. In some recoverable format, the Cardinals have a good September schedule, so it is possible they’ll try to escape with the NL Central in a short time.

And, if the Cardinals do commence to try to escape with the division, would they provide Pujols more playing time against righties merely to give him more at-bats and maximize his chances at 700 homers? I believe it is a real possibility. You understand the fans would want to view it, and the universal DH allows Pujols to play each and every game minus the deterioration of playing the field. There is a box office element to the too. The chase will put butts in the seats and that equals more revenue for the team.

For the present time, the Cardinals are focused on using Pujols as a platoon bat against lefties only, and which should continue so long as the NL Central race remains a genuine race. The best goal is winning the planet Series — Pujols himself would let you know that — and the Cardinals must do whatever essential to enhance their World Series chances. Which means sitting Pujols against righties since it gives St. Louis the very best chance at a division title. If the Cardinals start a large lead, then yes, more at-bats against righties could possibly be in order, merely to give Pujols as much bites at the apple as you possibly can.

He’s still retiring

Back spring training Pujols said he could be likely to retire following this season, but imagine if he finishes the entire year with, say, 699 homers? Surely he’d keep coming back in 2023 to obtain the milestone, right? Nope. Pujols insists he could be retiring following this season. He reiterated just as much to USA Today:

“I’m still likely to retire, whether or not I find yourself hitting 693, 696, 700, whatever,” Pujols said. “I do not get swept up in numbers. In the event that you were likely to tell me 22 years back that I’d be this close, I’d have told you you are freakin’ crazy. My career has been amazing.”

“No, I’ve had enough,” he said. “I’m glad I made the announcement this is it when I signed. Really, I wouldn’t change something.”

If Pujols does finish the growing season with 699 homers, I’m sure failing woefully to end up being the fourth player ever going to 700 homers will be a tiny letdown, but there is no shame in being the fourth player ever with 699 homers. Pujols has accomplished everything a new player could ever desire to accomplish in this game. Addressing 700 homers will be the cherry at the top. If he gets there, great. Or even, then it really is still a lifetime career really worth celebrating. The chase is officially on.

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