Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Albert Pujols Joins Elite Company

If you would have told me in Spring Training that I'd be writing two posts about the Angels this year and neither would involve Mike Trout I would have laughed, but here we are.  This past weekend, Albert Pujols became just the 32nd member of the 3,000 hit club, with an opposite field looping single off of Mike Leake of the Mariners.  In doing so he became just the 4th player ever to reach both the 3,000 hit and 600 HR milestones, joining Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Alex Rodriguez.  Barring some unforeseen steroid accusation a la A-Rod, Pujols has all but cemented himself as a 1st-ballot Hall of Famer and without question one of the greatest right-handed hitters of all time.

With the Brewers being a National League team for my entire adult life, my memories of Pujols come from his glory days with the Cardinals.  For over a decade, he murdered us every single time we played them and largely contributed to my utter disdain for the team.  To say Pujols has dropped off with the Angels would be an understatement, but even at age 38 he is still productive enough to hit cleanup for a playoff contending team.  It can be argued that the shift in the free agent market dynamics we are currently seeing started with the albatross contract he signed in his age 32 season in 2012, but in the end, even just his numbers with St. Louis alone are nearly hall-of fame worthy.  My hatred of constantly being beaten by him stemmed from a place of respect for his talent.  No matter how much longer he keeps playing, I will remember him as one of the greatest hitters I have seen live due in large part to the number of games we played the Cards each year.  Pujols is amazingly still signed through 2021, so when he is finally done playing, it is not that far-fetched to speculate he will be in the top 5 in homeruns and top 10 in hits of all time.  He has largely been forgotten since becoming an Angel due to many factors - drop in production, injuries, and playing on the West Coast in a smaller market to name a few - but this week's historic event has rightfully reminded every baseball fan of just how good and historic a hitter that Albert "The Machine" Pujols really is.

Brewers 20-15, -1.0 (2 v. Indians, 4 @ Rockies, 3 @ Diamondbacks)
Reds 8-27, -13.0 (3 v. Mets, 4 @ Dodgers, 3 @ Giants)
Twins 14-17, -1.5 (2 @ Cardinals, 4 @ Angels, 1 v. Mariners, 2 v. Cardinals)

Erik - 2 (+5 worked)
Peter - 3

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