Pujols’s push to 700 HR is over

The Hall of Fame career of Pujols is still going as he makes his bid for being the G.O.A.T

Grady Gore, Staff Writer

The legend of Albert Pujols began on April 6, 2001, when he crushed his first career home run off pitcher Armando Reynoso. The rise of Albert Pujols began during an era of baseball where many offensive talents competed against each other, accomplishing incredible feats. In 2001 Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs breaking the all-time single-season home run record. Ichiro Suzuki led the league in total hits, coming in just under 250 hits. In 2001 generational talents were breaking unbelievable records and having groundbreaking seasons. 

Among all of these astonishing players, one man never failed to lose the attention of baseball fans:  Albert Pujols. Pujols began his rookie season in 2001 in a “storybook” fashion by hitting a home run at his first career home at-bat in St. Louis. Pujols put up 37 home runs that year, an OPS of over 1.000, a .329 batting average, 112 runs scored, and a rookie record of 130 RBI. He unanimously won the 2001 Rookie of the Year with all 32 votes (2 total votes from each city). In addition to NL ROTY, Albert won the Silver Slugger award for his position at third base. Overall he finished 4th in MVP voting. 

Pujols would remain with the Cardinals for another 10 years. Those 10 years Albert spent with the Cardinals would go down as some of the best years any player has ever had. He put up All-Star stats and franchise records in the first half of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals. Pujols totaled 2,073 hits, 445 home runs, 1,329 RBIs, an OBP of .420, an OPS of 1.037, and a batting average well above .300. Of the 11 seasons he spent with the Cardinals, he was a nine-time All-Star, never finishing below top 10 on the overall MVP voting. He finished in the top three MVP voting eight times, winning the award a total of three times. Pujols would lose the MVP vote to players who used performance-enhancing steroids at the time, causing many to believe that Pujols was cheated out of three oadditional MVP awards. He had an incredible record of 100+ RBI in 10 straight seasons. Unfortunately, he fell short of 11 straight seasons of 100+ RBIs by one RBI in 2011. Albert won the Gold Glove award in 2006 and 2010. In addition to this feat, he won the Silver Slugger award 6 times, including the Roberto Clemente Award in 2008. He led the Cardinals to the World Series in 2006 and 2011, winning both. Fans of baseball labeled Pujols as “The Machine” to signify his productive career as a hitter. 

In 2011 Albert was traded from St. Louis to teh Los Angeles Dodgers. Although his numbers dipped significantly from his career in St. Louis, he was still able to earn his 3,000th hit and his 600th home run. Only 4 other players ever got the chance of accomplishing these numbers:  Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez.  However, The Machine was not done yet. 

In 2022 Pujols returned to the Cardinals. Sitting at 679 home runs before the 2022 season, many doubted his chances at the legendary 700 home run mark. His 2022 season started out slowly. Before the All-Star game, Pujols had a low batting average and fewer than 10 home runs. Hope for 700 home runs was rapidly dwindling. After the July All-Star Break Albert began his final push. Standing among crowds chanting “We want Albert!” he crushed his 693 career home run. The attention of every baseball fan and player was directed at Albert as he entered into his final month of the regular season. Albert would go on to hit 5 more home runs in only 18 days. Finally, on September 23, 2022, Albert Pujols hit back-to-back home runs against his former coach and teammates on the Los Angeles Dodgers, totaling 700 career home runs. 

The race to 700 career home runs and the astonishing push that followed the All-Star break by Albert Pujols will go down as one of the most important and influential moments in Major League Baseball.  He is a lock for enshrinement at Cooperstown.  Pujols became number four on the all-time home run leaderboard and one of only two players to ever hit 700 home runs and 3,000 hits. The legend of Albert Pujols seems to have ended just as it had begun: in a stunning fashion of persistence and determination.