Los Angeles Angels Albert Pujols closing in on history.
By Mitch Quesada
Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols has blasted 19 home runs this season, keeping him on pace to reach 600 before his storied career ends.
The Los Angeles Angels are the hottest team in baseball right now, and few players have been swinging a hotter bat than veteran Albert Pujols.
Pujols, halfway through his 16th season, has seven hits, four home runs, and 12 RBI in his last four games.
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The four home runs have put him at 579 for his storied career, just four behind Mark McGwire who currently sits at No. 10 on the all-time career home run list.
Pujols will also need to pass Frank Robinson (586) before he gets to the magical No. 600, but he isn’t far away now; so close, in fact, that the achievement could come by the end of the season.
It will be close call though and everything will have to go right for the veteran — Pujols is on pace for 34 long balls this year which would get him to 594 for his career.
However, he finished last year with 40 home runs — which he would need to hit this year to get to 600 — and there’s always the chance he gets to that number again, although he hasn’t had back-to-back 40 home run seasons since 2009-2010.
The company Pujols would be joining is elite to say the least. Only eight players in history have reached 600 home runs; Pujols would be the ninth.
But he also has the chance to do something only one other player in history has done.
The 36-year-old could become just the second player to hit 600 home runs, accumulate 2,000 RBI’s, and collect 3,000 hits all while batting .300 for his career.
The only other player to do that is Hank Aaron.
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Pujols, who is under club control and contracted with the Angels until 2022, will likely be able to reach all of those numbers in the next three years if he can stay healthy.
He only needs 21 home runs, 230 RBI, and 244 hits to get to the milestones mentioned above, and he is a career .310 hitter, even though he has hit .258 or weaker in three of the last four seasons.
Even more intriguing is the fact that Pujols is already far ahead of the pace he was projected to maintain, when a PECOTA forecast at Baseball Prospectus was performed in April 2015.
That forecast had the veteran hitting his 579th home run (which he hit Tuesday night) sometime in August 2017. It also predicted Pujols would finish the 2017 campaign with 587 total long balls, a number he should reach by the end of this season.
By the end of 2021, the PECOTA forecast has Pujols finishing his career with 642 home runs, which would place him in sixth on the all-time list in between Willie Mays (660) and Ken Griffey (630).
It also predicted he will reach 3,000 hits and 600 home runs at some point during the 2018 season, and finish his career with 3,352 hits, another number he is on pace to surpass.
If he ends up with that exact number, it would place him at No. 10 on the all-time hits list, right above Paul Molitor (3,319).
The forecast hasn’t been completely accurate thus far, but it has given us a good idea of what to expect from the future Hall of Famer as his career enters its final years.
Though he spent the first 11 seasons of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals, Angels fans will have the pleasure of watching Pujols accomplish what so few have done while he is in an Angels uniform.
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History will be made in the next few seasons, and “The Machine” will be at the center of much of it.