April 09, 2015

Pujols continues to move up in the record books

Prince Albert! Getty Images via NBC Sports
On Wednesday night, Albert Pujols hit a bomb of a home run. (Sorry, MLB embedding is acting wonky with Blogger, at least on this browser; you'll have to click the link.) Not only was it the first of the year, but it was No. 521 on his career, putting him a tie for 18th with Willie McCovey, Frank Thomas and Ted Williams.

Next are Jimmie Foxx at 534 and Mickey Mantle at 536, both of whom he should pass without problem this year, then Mike Schmidt at 548, whom he has an outside chance of catching this year, needing 28 bombs on the season to tie and 29 to pass. That would put him in the top 15.

For his career? Pujols still has an outside shot at 700 HRs, a pretty good shot at passing Willie Mays, and a fair shot at Alex Rodriguez, wherever he ends up, which should be shy of 700.

But it's more than just home runs.

That includes noting that he has an outside shot at becoming the all-time leader on at least one counting stat.

First, slugging percentage. Pujols is currently seventh. I expect him to fall no lower than No. 11, staying ahead of current No. 12, Miguel Cabrera, and possibly just to ninth, ahead of current No. 10 Joe DiMaggio. That would still leave him above the majority of people on the list above.

Park-adjusted OPS+ is a good all-around measure of a player. Pujols is currently 10th, at 165. Aaron and DiMaggio are among a group tied for 22nd at 155. Cabrera and Joey Votto are among those tied for 25th, one point lower. Ed Dehalanty is 30th at 152. I certainly don't see Pujols going lower than that.

Next? Total bases, where Pujols is No. 37, with almost 4,700. A strong, but not overly aggressive prediction of 1,700 for the rest of his career gives him 6,400, behind only Hank Aaron. Even a conservative estimate of 1,491, or 213 per year, which he's easily done every non-injury year, still puts him ahead of Stan Musial in the No. 2 slot. (And yes, Musial is No. 2 in career total bases; I just wish more semi-casual, but semi-serious, baseball fans would see this and recognize just how damned good he was.)

In RBIs, Pujols is 33rd. He's 692 behind Aaron, 609 behind Babe Ruth and 651 551 behind No. 3 Cap Anson. An output of 90 RBIs per season for the rest of this year and the next 7 full seasons left on his contract would put him past Ruth.  With 85 or so ribbies, he's past Anson, at least. We'll put him there, with a shot at Ruth. He can get just under 70 per year and pass Bonds into No. 4, which seems it should be no problem. (Per the commenter, thanks for the catch on the math on Anson. It still will be somewhat of a sled to catch Anson.)

The one career stat where he could end up the all time leader?

Extra base hits.

That dinger last night gave him 1,099 for his career, 378 behind Aaron and his 1,477. Barry Bonds is second with 1,440 and Musial is third with 1,377.

That's 378 for seven remaining years, or 54 per year. Other than his injury-limited 2013, he's never had fewer than 66 extra base hits since 2010. So, it's possible!

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