In Praise of Albert Pujols

On Friday night Albert Pujols hit the 699th and 700th home runs of his illustrious career. Only three other major leaguers have hit 700 or more home runs. Babe Ruth was the first, finishing his career in 1935 with 714 home runs. That number remained the gold standard for 39 years until Hank Aaron surpassed it in 1974. Hammerin’ Hank finished his career in 1976 with 755 round trippers. It would take another 33 years until Barry Bonds passed Aaron in 2007. Bonds holds the all-time record as he finished his career with 762.

Albert Pujols’ 700th Career Home Run – Bing video

Although Pujols may still have plenty left in the tank he has vowed to end his 22-year career at the end of this season. His production numbers have dropped dramatically over the past several years. Pujols saw a modest resurgence this year fueled by a return to his beloved St. Louis Cardinals and the implementation of the DH in the National League, but it is unlikely that if he continued playing, he could seriously challenge the Bonds home run record.

Albert Pujols

Yet what a way to go out! Prince Albert will add 700 home runs to the list of the incredible achievements of his 22-year career which include three MVP awards, the 2001 Rookie of the Year award and two-time NL home run leader. Pujols also is the only player in major league history to hit 400 home runs in his first ten seasons.

A fabulous way to end a remarkable Hall-of-Fame career.

Stats per baseball-reference.com

Judge Joins the Elite Yet Controversial 60 Home Run Club

Last night Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees became only the sixth major leaguer to hit or surpass 60 home runs in a single season.

Only Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds have accomplished that incredible feat.

Babe Ruth had 60 home runs in 1927 with the Yankees.

Roger Maris 61 in 1961 with the Yankees.

Mark McGwire 70 in 1998 and 65 in 1999 with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Sammy Sosa 66 in 1998, 63 in 1999 and 64 in 2001 with the Chicago Cubs.

Barry Bonds has the Major League record with 73 which he hit in 2001 with the San Francisco Giants.

Judge now holds the American League single season record for most home runs by a right-handed batter. Jimmy Foxx hit 58 for the Philadelphia Athletics and Hank Greenberg had 58 in 1938 for the Detroit Tigers.

Although the 60-home run mark has been a milestone for nearly a century those who have achieved it have done so with a certain amount of controversy.

Ruth achieved his feat during an era when some of the greatest baseball players were not allowed to play in the major leagues due to racial segregation.

Maris reached 60 home runs only after the majors extended the season from 154 games to 162. Thus, giving him more games than Ruth.

McGwire, Sosa and Bonds all reached the 60-home run mark during the steroid era. McGwire has admitted that he used steroids to improve his power numbers. Though there is much evidence to the contrary Sosa and Bonds have not admitted steroid use.

To this point Judge’s pursuit of the single season home run record has been met with tremendous excitement and no controversy. We’ll see how far he goes. I for one will be rooting for him.