Most of the talk surrounding Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols in recent years concerns his struggles to live up to his mammoth contract. It’s true that Pujols isn’t the same hitter that he was during his prime years in St. Louis, but he’s still shown pop in his bat in Los Angeles, hitting 23 homers or more in every season except for one (17 in 2013). And when looking at his career totals, it’s hard to deny that he’s one of the best hitters the game has seen.
Those career numbers continued to get better over the weekend as Pujols notched hit number 3,000 against the Seattle Mariners, becoming the 32nd hitter to reach that milestone. Of the 31 other players in that club, only six aren’t in the Hall of Fame. Two (Pete Rose and Rafael Palmeiro) for off-field issues and the rest (Jeter, Ichiro, Beltre, A-Rod) haven’t come up for election yet. So Pujols is in rarefied air.
When you dive further into those 3,000 hits, things get even more amazing. Nearly a full half (42%) of his 3,002 hits, as of this writing have been for extra bases. Pujols has racked up 626 doubles, 620 homers and 16 triples in his time in the majors, and he’s walked more than he’s struck out (1,256 to 1,164). In today’s day and age of swing-for-the-fences or strike-out hitters, Pujols is a shining light of a former era of high contact, patient, powerful hitters.
With three years left on his deal, if he’s able to churn out the 140 hits or so he has the past three seasons, he could conceivably add another 500 hits to his resume, pushing him all the way up to the sixth spot all-time ahead of Derek Jeter. Pujols’ sustained excellence should be appreciated, and it probably will be for years to come when Cooperstown likely comes calling in retirement.
Pujols wasn’t the only player to reach a career milestone this weekend, to see who else did and get more big stories from the week of baseball, check out the video above.