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Albert Pujols hits 700 home runs: all you need to know as the legend of the Cardinals hits a historic milestone

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The baseball gods have gifted us with two thrilling home run chases in 2022. New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge makes a run on 61 home runs, Roger Maris’ American League-record for one season. In the National League, legend of St. Louis Cardinals and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols has hit the 700 home run milestone.

Pujols hit his 699th and 700th career home runs on September 23, extending his lone possession of fourth on the all-time home run list for Alex Rodriguez. The 42-year-old Pujols rejoined the Cardinals this season and it’s more than a farewell tour. He’s been a very prolific platoon bat, going deep seven times in a 10-game period in August to make 700 home runs a real possibility.

On August 30 Pujols took leftist Ross Detwiler deep for his 694th career home run. Detwiler was the 450th different pitcher to take Pujols deep into his career, breaking Barry Bonds’ record. Of course, Pujols would almost certainly have hit his 700th homer earlier if not for the shortened 2020 pandemic season, but that was out of his control.

So the question on everyone’s mind is how much beyond 700 home runs can Pujols reach before the end of the season? Here’s what you need to know about Pujols after he became the fourth member of the 700-homer club.

All-time home run standings

Pujols currently sits fourth on the all-time home run standings. Only four sluggers in MLB history have hit 700 home runs, a list that now includes Pujols:

  1. Barry Bonds: 762
  2. Henk Aaron: 755
  3. Dear Ruth: 714
  4. Albert Pujols: 700 and counting
  5. Alex Rodriguez: 696
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For what it’s worth, Pujols has averaged one homer ever 16.3 at bats in his career, which is a top-40 mark in history but lags behind other premium power hitters. Mark McGwire is the all-time leader with one homer every 10.61 at bats. Giancarlo Stanton leads the active players with 13.82 at bats per homer.

It’s worth noting that by passing A-Rod, Pujols is the all-time home run leader among infielders. Bonds, Aaron and Ruth were mostly outfielders. Pujols has spent the majority of his career at first base. Jim Thome is the only other primary infielder to score 600 home runs in his career. He is eighth on the all-time list with 612.

historical relevance

The historical relevance of 700 home runs is clear. Only four players have ever done it now, and there’s a chance we’ll never see another player approach the milestone in our lives. Unless Miguel Cabrera finds the fountain of youth and hangs around for a few more years, the active player with the best chance of hitting 700 home runs is …probably Juan Soto? He joined the 100-homer club earlier this season at the age of 23 and has a very, very long way to go. It’s rare for a player to approach 700 home runs.

As some fans and certain segments of the media are used to, we can add asterisks to almost everyone on the list of all-time home runs. Bonds has been associated with performance-enhancing drugs. A-Rod admitted to using them in multiple seasons. Ruth played for integration. Aaron was playing when amphetamines, now a banned substance, dominated the entire game. Any kind of on-field controversy involving Pujols lacks compelling evidence. You can never be 100 percent sure, but Pujols and his reputation are as squeaky clean as they come.

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He plays more against right-handers

At this point in his career, Pujols is more of a lefty masher than an everyday player, although the Cardinals have a significant lead over NL Central – and Pujols has been so prolific in recent weeks – Pujols has gotten more starts against right-handers. That equates to more at bats and a greater chance of cementing his position on the all-time home run list.

The universal DH allows Pujols to play any game without the wear and tear of the pitch. This also has a box office element. The chase will put butts in the seats and that means more revenue for the team. That definitely plays a part in the game time distribution when history is so important at stake.

The ultimate goal is to win the World Series — Pujols himself would tell you that — and the Cardinals should do whatever it takes to improve their World Series chances. Normally that would mean Pujols would have to face right-handers, but with a big lead over NL Central, St. Louis can afford to give Pujols more at bats against right-handers, giving him as many bites as possible.

He’s still retiring

Back in spring training, Pujols said he plans to retire after this season, but what if he had finished the year with, say, 699 home runs? Surely he would have come back in 2023 to hit the milestone, right? No. Pujols has insisted that he retire after the season, regardless of his last home run count. He repeated so much to USA today:

“I’m still retiring whether I hit 693, 696, 700 or whatever,” Pujols said. “I don’t care about numbers. If you had told me 22 years ago that I would be this close, I would have told you that you are crazy. My career has been great.”

“No, I’ve had enough,” he said. “I’m glad I made the announcement that this was it when I signed. Really, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

So hitting 700 home runs should be the icing on the cake for Pujols and for his storied career.

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