SocraticGadfly: It's 3,000 hits for Albert Pujols! What's next?

May 04, 2018

It's 3,000 hits for Albert Pujols! What's next?

Albert Pujols: what's up
for 2018 and beyond?
With a single May 4, Albert Pujols becomes the 32nd player, and second active behind Adrian Beltre, with the retirement earlier this week of Ichiro Suzuki, to hit that milestone.

So, what milestones remain for him, with nearly four contract years left? (That's assuming Haloes owner Arte Moreno doesn't do something like Hank Steinbrenner did with Alex Rodriguez and essentially convert his playing contract into a personal services deal, which Pujols actually has already guaranteed at the end of his contract if he plays it out.)

First, this season on hits. He will pass Roberto Clemente, Al Kaline, Wade BoggsRafael Palmeiro and Lou Brock by mid-June or so; indeed, he passed Clemente Friday night with a second hit in that game. Rod Carew, Ricky Henderson and Craig Biggio should then fall by the wayside by the end of July or so, putting him in the top 25. If, as is likely, he passes A-Rod, Ichiro and Dave Winfield by the end of the year, he's in the top 20.
Here's video:
In a bit of irony, he got that hit in Seattle the day after the Mariners pushed Ichiro into retirement. And the hit came off ex-Card Mike Leake.

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.)

Beyond hits, he now joins A-Rod, Willie Mays and Henry Aaron as the only members of the 3,000 hits/600 HRs club. And, whatever his exact ranking at the end of the year on the RBI totals, with 65 more, he joins Aaron in a two-person club of 3,000 hits, 600 HRs and 2,000 ribbies.

With 620 homers, Ken Griffey at 630 is next on the chase list there. Mays at 660 is likely out of the chase until next year. If he plays out the contract, he should catch Mays for sure, probably A-Rod, and possibly Babe Ruth.

Aaron's mark for career extra-base hits is an outside possibility. Pujols needs 179 total, or about 45 a year, to pass Barry Bonds for second. He needs 216, or about 56 a year, to pass Aaron.

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

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.

And, on runs scored, he's got a shot of joining Ruth and Aaron in the 2,000-run, 2,000-RBI club.

Again, that's if he plays out the contract.

Per my comment above, how long WILL he stay around, if he can't play better than he did last year? (Allowing for Pujols' typically slow starts to seasons, he is playing somewhat – but not incredibly — better this season.)

Old Redbirds skipper Tony La Russa told the Boston Globe that he thinks Albert will know when it's time, if it is before his contract ends, and will accept that.

On the other hand, sports book author Jeff Pearlman tweeted this May 3:
And, to be honest, not primarily because I am a Cards fan but under general observations, Pearlman may not be all right, but he's not totally wrong, either.

That said, on his self-honesty, and his health? If he heats up, relatively speaking, from this April/early May, he could well finish with, let's say, a 110 OPS+. That's enough for him to play next year for sure.

And, on self-honesty, and related issues? This is all complicated by the fact he may be 40, not 38. Still takes nothing away from a great career. (And Trueblood is wrong that Albert's post-30 sticks out like a sore thumb if he's indeed 38; five other players on his list are like Pujols or worse.0

We'll examine 2020 and 2021 possibilities down the road.

Enjoy for now! Even you, Brad Lidge.

I still like the look on the face of Roger Clemens in the Astro dugout. And LOVE the look on the face of Nolan Ryan in the Astro exec box.

Or, Mike Shannon's version of the call:

Finally, some career highlights of The Machine:

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