Albert Pujols And The Home Run Record

Dec 10, 2011; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (5) at a press conference at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Part of Albert Pujols’ massive contract with the Angels is a $7 million bonus for breaking Barry Bonds’ career home run record. Bonds does own the real record with 762 homers even though some people will only recognize Hank Aaron’s 755. I’ve learned to pick my battles on this one over the years so let’s just move on since the bonus will only be paid for home run 763.

Pujols, 32-years-old since January 16, has accumulated 445 home runs during his first 11 seasons with the Cardinals. Only Eddie Mathews (399) and Ken Griffey Jr. (398) are even close to that kind of early success. With a fresh 10 year contract, Pujols is 317 shy of the Bonds total. Chasing monumental records is no easy task. Pujols will have to find inclusion into a very elite club to break the home run high water mark.

From ages 32-42 (or 32-41 if you want to be picky about birth dates), four players have hit 317+ home runs. The following is the list with ages calculated on June 30…

Rk Player HR From To Age G PA
1 Barry Bonds 428 1997 2007 32-42 1403 5893
2 Babe Ruth 358 1927 1935 32-40 1153 5028
3 Hank Aaron 357 1966 1976 32-42 1492 6085
4 Rafael Palmeiro 336 1997 2005 32-40 1369 5857
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/6/2012.

Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro will always be associated with their roles in the “steroid era.” So far, the only suspicion following Pujols is about his age. While elite players generally age well, it’s hard to imagine any super star maintaining that status after his 40th birthday. Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections for Pujols’ WAR (wins above replacement) for the next 10 years are: 7, 6.2, 5.8, 4.9, 4.2, 3.5, 2.7, 2.0, 1.3 and 0.7.

By those projections, Pujols will be under the 3 win level by age 38. That doesn’t mean Pujols can’t still hit for power while providing near replacement level value. Mark Reynolds has made an entire career out of it. Here are the 38-year-old or over club who managed to hit 25+ home runs while being a under a 3 win player…

Rk Player HR WAR/pos Year Age G PA AB
1 Rafael Palmeiro 38 1.4 2003 38 154 654 561
2 Steve Finley 36 2.5 2004 39 162 706 628
3 Willie Stargell 32 2.3 1979 39 126 480 424
4 Rico Carty 31 3.0 1978 38 145 593 528
5 Fred McGriff 30 1.4 2002 38 146 595 523
6 Cy Williams 30 2.3 1927 39 131 570 492
7 Darrell Evans 29 2.9 1986 39 151 601 507
8 Ted Williams 29 2.9 1960 41 113 390 310
9 Andres Galarraga 28 1.0 2000 39 141 548 494
10 Dave Winfield 28 0.6 1991 39 150 633 568
11 Willie McCovey 28 1.3 1977 39 141 548 478
12 Reggie Jackson 27 1.3 1985 39 143 541 460
13 Frank Thomas 26 2.0 2007 39 155 624 531
14 Hank Sauer 26 0.9 1957 40 127 429 378
15 Harold Baines 25 2.3 1999 40 135 486 430
16 Reggie Jackson 25 -0.4 1984 38 143 584 525
17 Tony Perez 25 -0.1 1980 38 151 635 585
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/6/2012.

That was Rico Carty’s career high in home runs. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it once. If Rico Carty can do it, why can’t Albert Pujols? Pujols needs to average 32 home runs a year to break Bonds’ record. In 2007, he hit 32 home runs to set his career low.

I’ll leave the projections to the people much smarter than me. Bill James is projecting 41 home runs and Cairo has Pujols at 37 (to lead the league). Even if Pujols averages 40 over the next five years, that still leaves him with over 100 to hit as his career winds down. Impossible? No. Likely? No.

But we’ve never really seen a hitter quite like Pujols either. It’s possible he could hit the health lottery and avoid the derailments that struck Griffey and appear to be hitting Alex Rodriguez. It’s possible that in five years science will have us all on miracle drugs and we stop aging. It’s also entirely possible that we’ve already seen the best of Albert Pujols and maybe he’s not a fine wine.

The Angels invested heavily in Pujols. After his 10-year mega deal, he has another 10-year personal services contract. The Halos are almost banking on Pujols breaking that record. And that $7 million bonus will come in handy if Pujols wants to buy a custom hover Lamborghini in 2022.

Topics: Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds, Chasing The Home Run Record

Want more from Halo Hangout?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix. Enter your email and stay in the know.

TEAMFeed More Angels news from the Fansided Network

Hot on the Web From golf.com