This past weekend Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals crushed a home run into center field of Busch Stadium. While the Cardinals ended up losing the game to the Chicago Cubs, the home run was significant in other ways.
Pujols’ home run on Sunday gives him 30 for the season, making him the first player in history to hit 30 home runs in each of his first ten seasons, an incredible feat to say the least.
Pujols’ accomplishment has never been done before, but that has been the case with this very same statistic for years. The only player to come close would have been Mark McGwire, ironically Pujols’ batting coach in St. Louis. McGwire ran off four straight seasons (not counting a short call up in 1986 which didn’t even qualify him as a rookie) at the start of his career from 1987 to 1990.
Like Barry Bonds, Pujols finds himself batting comfortably in the number three spot in the batting order. With fellow Cardinals slugger With Matt Holliday agreeing to a seven-year deal to keep him with the Cardinals, Pujols is likely going to see his numbers continue to improve. Opposing pitchers will have no choice but to pitch to Pujols in the number three spot, especially with Holliday’s power batting right behind him in the cleanup spot.
Another cleanup spot hitter that has been stealing the spotlight with home runs this season is Alex Rodriguez, who earlier this season became the youngest player to reach the 600 home run mark.
However, Pujols seems to be quietly overshadowing the Yankees’ slugger. Pujols’ reserved demeanor combined with the smaller market of St. Louis doesn’t get the same attention that the glamor and glitz of A-Rod in New York receives. Pujols’s tenth consecutive season with 30 home runs is no fluke. In fact, it is backed up with over 100 Runs Batted In and a batting average well over .300 in each and every season.
At 30 years old, Pujols is already one of the best hitters the game of baseball has ever seen. If he were to play 20 years, and his current totals of 1854 Hits, 396 Home Runs, and 1198 Runs Batted In doubled, Pujols could be pushing the record books skyward in all three categories.
For most players, slumps seem to come and go, but for Pujols his performance seems to be as consistent as his demeanor. That consistency hasn’t been marred by controversy and accusations like many other players in the league over the last 20 years. It seems the spotlight might not be as important to him as leaving his mark on the game, a quality that Major League Baseball needs most in its era of controversy, which makes Albert’s future destiny in Cooperstown almost guaranteed.
image via yahoo
Just like when he reached number 500, Alex Rodriguez left baseball fans hanging like a curve ball waiting for number 600 to be hit. It may have taken 46 at-bats for A-Rod to hit 600, but on the anniversary of number 500 in 2007, Rodriguez couldn’t have picked a better time or place.
It seems appropriate that Rodriguez, who just turned 35 on July 27th, would pass New York Yankees legend Babe Ruth, who was the previous youngest to reach the 600 home run milestone at home in the Bronx at Yankee Stadium. Rodriguez hit 500 in the old Yankee Stadium, so it seemed like destiny for 600 to come in the new Yankee Stadium.
Number 600 came with two outs on a 2-0 pitch from Shaun Marcum of the Toronto Blue Jays. A-Rod blasted it into center field, driving in superstar teammate Derek Jeter, who was on first base, to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the first inning. The home run also ended a 17 at-bat hitless streak for Rodriguez.
At 35, Rodriguez adds his name to the list of baseball elite that have shared the milestone. Only six other players have accomplished the milestone: Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr. and Sammy Sosa. Rodriguez will only climb the list, and many anticipate he will break Bonds’ all-time record of 762 in the next four or five seasons.
Alex Rodriguez watches home run number 600 fly over the center field fence at Yankee Stadium.
Baseball’s home run records have been a thing of much controversy in the last decade. Currently at seventh on the all-time home run list behind Sammy Sosa, Ken Griffey Jr., Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds, A-Rod will undoubtedly add his name to the elusive 600 home run club any day now.
At just 34 years of age, Rodriguez has the best shot of current players to catch all-time home run leader, and good friend, Barry Bonds. Bonds finished his career with 762 after 22 seasons in the league. If Rodriguez continues to play another six years, which would match the 22 years that Bonds played, he’d need to average about 30 home runs a season to catch Bonds. Thursday’s blast was his 16th of the season, and A-Rod seems to be more patient at the plate this year than ever before.
With the Yankees just three full games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays, New York will need A-Rod to contribute in more ways than just hitting home runs, and with his new found patience, his home run production may take a back seat in order to win back-to-back World Series titles. Rodriguez was met with mixed reactions from fans last night in his final at bat, of course the fans were hoping for 600, but A-Rod’s RBI double added some extra insurance for the Yankees. It seems fans were just reminiscing of Alex’s last monumental home run achievement. When A-Rod found himself looking for number 500 he went into a terrible 10 game hitting slump.
This year is different though, A-Rod won’t keep the fans waiting long. He’s picked up the pace in the second half of July, and has always fared well against the Kansas City Royals. In fact, against tonight’s starting pitcher Brian Bannister, Rodriguez has 3 home runs in only 7 at bats.
image via yahoo