Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols continues to push his way up the record books. With his two home runs Thursday night, Pujols tied Ken Griffey Jr. for sixth on the all-time home run list.
How did Albert Pujols tie Ken Griffey Jr. on the all-time home run list?
Pujols came into the game sitting on 628 career home runs. He wasted no time increasing that with a first-inning shot off James Paxton. In the sixth, he tied the record, blasting his 630th career home run against Nick Rumbelow.
— MLB (@MLB) July 13, 2018
Who will Albert Pujols pass next on the all-time home run list?
Willie Mays sits in fifth place with 660 career home runs, putting Pujols 30 home runs away from tying Mays. After that, Alex Rodriguez is in fourth with 696 home runs. The top three players are all members of the 700 club.
What are Albert Pujols’ chances of catching Willie Mays on the all-time home run list?
It might be close. At 38, Pujols is clearly on the decline. Even with his two home runs Thursday, Pujols’ slash line this season is just .251/.292/.434. As his slugging percentage indicates, Pujols is still capable of hitting for power. He now has 16 home runs on the season.
For the sake of argument, let’s say he finishes the year with 25. That would leave him 21 home runs away from tying Mays. That’s where things get tricky.
Pujols is still under contract with the Angels through the 2021 season. He’ll average $29 million over the next three seasons.
Should Pujols remain a regular during that time, he might be able to do it. He could pop 15 home runs in 2019, and only need six to tie Mays in 2020. If you factor in a little more decline, that seems possible.
However, it’s dangerous to assume that will be the case. Pujols has played through a fair amount of injuries the past few years. Those could continue to pile up as he gets older, or he could decide it’s not worth the wear and tear anymore.
Even if Pujols stays healthy, there’s no guarantee the Angels will keep him around for the rest of the deal. They would still owe him a lot of money, but the team could part ways with Pujols if they want to go with a better option.
Does this impact Albert Pujols’ legacy?
Tying Griffey Jr. on the all-time home run list is a great accomplishment, but it doesn’t really impact Pujols’ career. He’s already established himself as one of the best players of his era and one of the best hitters of all-time.
He was a future first-ballot Hall of Famer before Thursday started. He’ll be a future first-ballot Hall of Famer when he goes to sleep Thursday night.
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