The St. Louis Cardinals have multiple players coming up on significant career milestones, both alone and together. Let’s check ’em out.
(All statistics through 5/24/2022.)
One of the very best players in Cardinals history, Albert Pujols returned to St. Louis after reaching some significant milestones – 3,000 hits, 500 and 600 home runs – during his time with the Los Angeles Angels. However, that doesn’t mean there are no more achievements for him to try to accomplish. What goals are possible for Pujols before retirement beckons when this season ends?
Home runs: Possibly the most renowned accomplishment is baseball is the home run, and Pujols has hit more of them in his remarkable career than almost everyone. He currently has 683, ranking fifth on the all-time list. Sitting 13 long balls ahead of him is Alex Rodriguez, with 696, and of course, the elegant round number of 700 is 17 away.
With four homers through the first quarter of the season, Pujols is “on pace” to finish with 699 long balls, though the sporadic and streaky nature of power hitting makes any attempts to extrapolate his performance silly. Catching A-Rod seems possible, though the realistic odds of Pujols getting there probably are less than 50-50.
Getting to 700 is a long shot, since the Cardinals will limit Pujols’ plate appearances to keep him fresh, put him in position to succeed, and provide sufficient playing time to other players. Babe Ruth’s total of 714 is completely out of reach.
Hits: The Machine just passed Eddie Collins and moved into 11th place on the all-time hits list. His 3,316 knocks are only three behind Paul Molitor, with Carl Yastrzemski an even 100 ahead of Molitor.
This one is pretty simple. Pujols will get four more hits in the near future and move into the top 10 for career hits. The only question after that is where he’ll settle between Molly and Yaz when the year ends.
Runs scored: This doesn’t get talked about as much, but Pujols has crossed the plate more than all but 12 other MLB players, with a total of 1,883. He’ll pass fellow Hall of Fame first baseman Lou Gehrig’s 1,888 runs scored some time in June.
Adding 40 more runs to his current total would tie him with Derek Jeter at 11th, but Pujols would need another 66 runs to match fellow Cardinals great Stan Musial, who scored 1,949 times. Jeter’s total is a definite maybe, while Musial’s mark is out of reach.
RBI: Depending on the source used, Ruth is second to Hank Aaron in career runs batted in. The latter recorded 2,297, while the former had 2,214. Pujols’ third-place standing with 2,162 is awe-inspiring, and that’s where he’s likely to finish his magnificent career.
GIDP: We can have a little fun with this among all of these serious, significant accomplishments, right? Pujols has grounded into a record 415 double plays in his MLB career. Cal Ripken Jr. is second, well behind at 350. Pujols has never been fast – though he is a very smart baserunner – and injuries and age haven’t helped. Is this record untouchable? You never know, but Pujols has been a sizable lead that would require a long, successful career for someone to challenge.