March 31, 2017

Albert Pujols, eyeing 600 dingers and records

Albert Pujols: what's ahead
for 2017 and beyond?
Albert Pujols, aka Phat Albert, Prince Albert and other monikers, will never reach his St. Louis Cardinals level of skill.

Nonetheless, he keeps moving up various baseball milestone ladders. So, what's ahead for him for 2017 — and beyond, with a full five years left on his contract, shy of Arte Moreno doing an A-Rod-style buyout. (Or a Josh Hamilton-style semi-buyout, referring to Moreno's and Pujols' current team!) It in part depends on how healthy he can stay this year and otherwise, how much he generally has in the tank.)

Per the header, he's just nine taters away from a career 600. (ESPN projects that to happen on May 20.)

He would be the ninth to pass that. He'll have a chance to move up the career rungs this season, too. Sammy Sosa at 609 and Jim Thome at 612 should easily be surpassed; Ken Griffey at 630 may have to wait until next year.

Another milestone also lies ahead. Currently at 2,825, Pujols is eyeing 3,000 hits. (That said, Pujols hasn't had 175 hits since 2010 —though he was close in 2011 and 2012 — so this may wait a year.) He should, though, at a minimum, pass the likes of Pudge Rodriguez, Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds and move into the 35th-place slot on the career hits list. (Passing Bonds by 1 would be 111 hits.)

Career in that department? Even allowing for nagging injuries and continued decline, he should get at least 3,550 hits, which would put him past Tris Speaker into fifth all time. (That's on an allowance of 155 hits this year and an average of 145 per year over the four remaining contract years. Another 81 — which might be a tough challenge — would give him 3,631, and Cardinals fans know who that's about.)

On career homers, let's give Pujols 29 for this year for a career total of 620. While I don't see him catching the big three of Bonds, Hank Aaron and Ruth, that still gives him a good shot for passing 700 with 20 a year for the rest of his contract, and 24 a year would push him past Ruth. At a minimum, after Junior Griffey, he'll catch Willie Mays, then should pass A-Rod.

And, Albert still has a decent shot at one all-time career record. Right now, he's 480 short of The Hammer on the career RBIs mark. Throwing out his injury-plagued 2013, he's met or beaten that mark every year with the Haloes. Ruth is in second, just 398 ahead of Pujols. Barring serious injury, Albert catches him. Even with more injury problems, he's just 270 RBIs away from passing A-Rod into sole third place.

Aaron's mark for career extra-base hits is also a possibility. Pujols needs to average 54 a year. Outside of the injurious 2013, Pujols was well over that mark until last year. If he can't catch Aaron, second place, at least, is almost guaranteed, with about 47 XBHs a year needed to pass Bonds, and third is a cinch.

He likely wont catch Aaron on career total bases, but should pass everybody else for second.

Oh, and while he's not the fielder he once was, and accumulating injuries have moved him more and more to DH, he's still and already 11th in career assists by first basemen. By the end of his career, there's still a chance he passes the likes of George Sisler to move as high as sixth place. (that said, coming off his latest foot surgery, he will start this year solely at DH.)

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