Pujols reaches 700 with a two-homer day.

Of course this is a magnificent milestone reflecting two decades of achievement. Only three other men in history have reached the 700 Club: Ruth, Aaron, Bonds.

Many people were supposed to make it. Gehrig got sick. Williams went to war twice. Mantle, Mathews and Foxx hit the bottle. A-Rod ran out of time with just four to go. Mays came close, even after losing part of his youth.

But Señor Sluggo endured.

The most interesting thing about this year has been Albert’s complete rejuvenation. In his youthful years with the Cards, he was the best hitter in the game, with a slash line of .326/.417/.612, good for a 169 OPS+. His 1.029 OPS was the sixth-highest in history, behind only Ruth, Gehrig, Williams, Bonds and Foxx. Since four of those guys were American Leaguers, that made Pujols the second-best in National League history.

Even now, he possesses the second-highest OPS in National League history, behind Bonds, but ahead of #3 Hornsby and #4 Musial,

(SIDEBAR: If you do the calculations by AWAY games, Pujols drops quite a bit, and the list goes Bonds-Hornsby-Piazza-Musial-Mays. Most people do not realize how much Piazza’s career was hurt by playing in pitchers’ parks, and therefore do not realize that he was one of the greatest hitters in the history of the NL. Based on rate stats in away games, it’s very close between Piazza and Hornsby for the best right-handed hitter in NL history. Piazza has a higher slugging average, but Hornsby makes up the difference and more in OBP. By the way, Piazza’s lifetime batting average on the road was .321 – pretty impressive when you consider that Ted Williams and Stan Musial “only” batted .328 and .326 on the road. Any time you are in the same general category as those two guys, it shows that you could swing that stick.)

During his stint in LA, Pujols was at best an average-hitting first baseman, with a .758 OPS for the decade, and even worse numbers toward the end. In his last five years in California, his OPS+ was 87, and his on-base percentage was a paltry .290, which basically made him the equivalent of a weak-hitting shortstop taking up a slot at first base or DH that would normally be occupied by a big hitter.

But something miraculous happened this year.

It didn’t start out that way. In early July he was hitting .198 with 4 homers, and it appeared that he would never get the 17 additional dingers he would need to reach 700. But the miracle happened around July 10. Somehow, out of nowhere, he fully rediscovered his youthful stroke. “After his 2-for-4 night Friday, he is batting .319/.381/.696 with 15 home runs and 38 RBIs in 48 second-half games.”

Go figure.

13 thoughts on “Pujols reaches 700 with a two-homer day.

  1. Lifetime Cards fan. Yeah many of us thought signing him for a year even for relative chump change was a PR stunt just to get fans in the seats. That looked true for the first half even with him only PH and DH against lefties. One of his 4 HRs was off a position player pitching in a mop up game… then mid-July, wow. Funny thing is mid career when his numbers were declining there was a persistent rumor that his birth certificate was faked and that he was actually older than advertised.

  2. They put him in front of a guy with 35 home runs and a 320 average. Of course he is going to get pitches to hit.
    Did he have the same protection when his production tanked? If he was moved in front of a weak hitter, they would throw him junk because the next guy wasn’t going to kill you with his bat.

    1. Mays also was a casualty of military service. He lost almost 2 years during his prime because of the Korean war.

      1. and I gotta think that Bonds, PED’s notwithstanding, would not have as many home runs if they had outlawed that full arm protection he wore, thereby allowing him an advantage by crowding the plate and cutting off the ability of pitchers to pitch inside. that is akin to comparing pitching before 1968 and after 1968, when the height of the mound was changed.

  3. one thing I’ve learned about baseball – when somebody has a miraculous resurgence, it’s pretty much always because PEDs. I hope Pujols is the exception, but history isn’t on his side.

    1. Yes but this is sort of an exception to the exception where I think opposing pitchers are tossing him softballs. It’s not a unprecedented thing in pro sports. See Kobe Bryant scoring 60 in his final game

    2. Can’t help but think the same thing. And Judge’s year. The simple fact is that there will always be people working on newer, better undetectable PEDs and as soon as they are available, players will start using them. I’ve been figuring we’ve been due for a while. I’m more skeptical than not.

      1. Judge has got the greatest natural monster bod since Frank Howard.
        Some folks just don’t need that shit. And it’s a cheap homer park.
        Btw, the ex-Tribe’s magic # is 1. Might be Tito’s best job yet.

  4. Gehrig 493 HRs and 1995 RBIs, 37 and 158 in his last healthy season, aged 34.
    How great was Pujols? Before the chronic injuries, it looked like there might be a debate shaping up over 1B on the mythical all-time all-star team. Or who was the best hitter in Cards history.
    The one which has always kind of hacked me off is Dwight Evans with 385 HRs. 400 probably gets him into the Hall, where he should be. If Walt Hriniak had gotten hold of him one year earlier…
    Mucho Congrats to Senor Sluggo.

    1. And Evans was a gold-glover in the toughest right field in baseball and one of the clutchest hitters around. His hitting and power came in a pitcher’s era. He should be in.

    2. Dewey was a better overall player than his teammate, Jim Rice, but Rice is in while Dewey is not. (Dewey is better by a mile if you respect WAR: 67 to 48.)

      It is difficult for the voters to gain the perspective needed to evaluate the offensive performances of the three decades from 1964-1993. Dewey’s total of 385 homers in that era doesn’t sound that impressive, but it is really quite an accomplishment. In his career, 1972-1991, only two American Leaguers hit more homers: Reggie and Eddie Murray.

      I wonder if Dewey was hurt by the fact that he peaked in his mid-30s. By the time he had made it from very good to great, people had formed the image of him as merely very good, and it was tough for him to break through that perception to get people to recognize him as a Hall-worthy superstar.

  5. I’m so glad he got it. For a while it looked like he might fall just short. I always feel bad for guys who get achingly close to a milestone but don’t quite get there. A-Rod of course, Al Kaline as well (399 home runs), and recently Fred McGriff (493). In hockey Glenn Anderson scored 498 goals, which is probably the most famous “falling just short” in that sport. It must suck to have to retire just short of a huge milestone like that.

    1. Dale Murphy is on that list as well – 398 home runs and in his final season he hit none (the year before he only hit 2)

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