When it’s all said and done, Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols will go down in history as one of the best hitters in MLB history.
Though he’s not the player he once was, the 38-year-old has reached some important milestones over the past few years.
The most recent, of course, came Friday night in the fifth inning of a game against the Seattle Mariners. On a 1-0 pitch, Pujols hit a flare out to right field field that dropped in for a base hit, making him just the 32nd player in major league history to accumulate 3,000 hits.
It was a fantastic moment, but it didn’t really represent what made Pujols such a feared hitter. No, what made Pujols great was his ability to absolutely crush the ball, as evidenced by his 626 career doubles and 620 home runs.
In fact, Pujols is just the fourth player ever to amass at least 3,000 hits and 600 home runs in his career, according to ESPN. The only other players to do it are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez.
Pujols’ 620 home runs are good for seventh on the all-time list, and his 1,937 runs batted in are ninth. Pujols has little chance of surpassing Barry Bonds’ all-time record of 762 home runs, but with a contract that runs through 2021, it’s not inconceivable that he could get to 700 dingers, which only three other players have done.
But for now, Pujols, who was drafted in the 13th round of the 1999 MLB draft by the Cardinals, just wants to help the first-place Angels win ballgames.
“I’m aware of the legacy and the people that I tie and am on the same page right now,” Pujols said after the Angels 5-0 win on Friday, according to ESPN. “But at the end of the day, it’s about winning a championship. Nothing would be more special than in September and October and playing in the playoffs and bringing a championship back to the city of Anaheim.”
Even though he’s focused on winning, Pujols still recognized the magnitude of his accomplishment.
It’s an accomplishment not many people would have predicted, considering the fact that he fell all the way to the 13th round in 1999. But he quickly proved his abilities, winning the Rookie of the Year Award with the Cardinals in 2001.
From there, Pujols just kept on mashing. He won three MVP awards and two World Series with the Cardinals, smashing 445 home runs along the way.
Though he left St. Louis following the 2011 season, the city he came up in still appreciates him, as evidenced by a Cardinals Twitter post celebrating his 3,000-hit milestone.
One thing is certain: When Pujols retires, he’ll go down in history as one of the greatest ever.
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