A look Into Albert Pujols Career by Ryan Kanne

 

 

News of 2021 being Albert Pujol’s final season was disputed as soon as it was reported. Despite claims of retirement from his wife on an Instagram post, Pujols is reportedly undecided on his future in baseball. Whether retirement is on the horizon or postponed another season or two, Pujols has plenty of career records he could surpass in 2020.

 

Career Home runs

Career Record: Barry Bonds (762)

 

Pujols and his 662 career home runs are a long way off from Barry Bonds and his home run record mark. While it was doubtful Pujols could’ve come close to 762, the shortened 2020 season limited his chance to reach Alex Rodriguez’s 696 home runs or even the exclusive 700 home run club.

 

Despite diminished results at the plate, especially in his batting average and on base percentage, Pujols was a semi- consistent power hitter. From 2017- 2019, Pujols averaged 22 home runs per season. If he had hit that many in 2020, putting him at 676 career home runs, it wouldn’t be outlandish to think he can sneak into the 700-home run club by playing two more seasons.


Unfortunately, the shortened season will keep one of MLB’s best hitters far away from passing anyone else on the career home run list. The closest would be the aforementioned Alex Rodriguez. Pujols would need 35 home runs to pass Rodriguez, a feat Pujols hasn’t come close to since his 40-home run season in 2015.

 

The 60-game COVID season took a lot away from baseball fans, but the most heartbreaking may be Pujols not passing another home run milestone.

 

Career RBI

Career Record: Hank Aaron (2297)

 

When Albert Pujols was nicknamed “The Machine”, it was due to his uncanny ability to drive in runs. Even towards the end of his career, Pujols has shown that “The Machine” doesn’t break down easily.

 

From 2017-2019, Pujols averaged 86 RBI with an average OPS of .805 with runners in scoring position (RISP). Going into the 2020 season, Pujols was actually still producing quality results with RISP. His 2019 season could even suggest he was becoming elite at run production again with a .913 OPS and 129 OPS+ with RISP. Once again, the 2020 season destroyed any momentum Pujols had at regaining his former elite run production.

 

 

2017

 

BA

OPS

sOPS+

RISP

.285

.732

95

RISP, 2 outs

.234

.719

99

Men on base

.271

.703

88

 

2018

 

BA

OPS

sOPS+

RISP

.264

.771

98

RISP, 2 outs

.289

.737

101

Men on base

.247

.691

80

 

2019

 

BA

OPS

sOPS+

RISP

.294

.913

129

RISP, 2 outs

.288

1.016

167

Men on base

.284

.856

117

 

2020

 

BA

OPS

sOPS+

RISP

.214

.649

65

RISP, 2 outs

.286

.882

135

Men on base

.250

.763

98

 

Pujol’s dip in run production could be accredited to the shortened season creating an unfamiliar environment. However, the dip is likely due to Pujols playing at 40 years-old with numerous leg injuries.

 

Even at his best it would be difficult for Pujols to rise in the RBI ranks. The next closest to Pujols 2100 RBIs are Babe Ruth’s 2214. Pujols would need a 115 RBI season to pass Ruth and another two seasons of 100 RBIs after that to pass Hank Aaron. Barring a miraculous return to form in 2021, Pujols will remain third all-time in RBIs.

 

Career Hits

Career Record: Pete Rose (4256)

 

Pujols is not going to break Pete Rose’s record of 4256 hits, but he could move up quite a few spots and even break the top 10 in career hits. Sitting at 15th right now with 3236 hits, Pujols can expect even in bad season to get about 100 hits. With exactly 100 hits, Pujols would skyrocket from 15th to 10th and pass Paul Molitor to do so.

 

Completing this feat would also have him pass all-time greats like Willie Mays and Eddie Murray while being only 100 more hits away from hall of famers like Honus Wagner and Carl Yastrzemski.

 

The big event to look out for will be Pujols passing Molitor in hits to reach the top 10. Doing so would put him another exclusive record club. If he reaches the top 10 in career hits, he and Hank Aaron would be the only players to currently be both top 10 in home runs and hits. While Pujols needs no help for his Hall of Fame candidacy, this would cement him as an easy first ballot option.

 

Whether he retires or not, 2021 will likely be his final year with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. His huge 10-year, $240 million contract ends after 2021 and his performance the last four seasons gives teams little optimism even as a DH.

 

Regardless of how he ends his career, Pujols will go down as one of the greatest hitters of all time. His dominance in the 2000’s may feel like ancient history, but his records will last lifetimes. All 2021 will decide is if he enters Cooperstown in 2026 or 2027.

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