Last season Albert Pujols went chasing the illustrious 600 Home Run club, which he reached on June 3rd with a grand slam off of the Twins Ervin Santana. Now he is chasing another milestone: 3,000 hits.
Albert Pujols started 2017 needing eight home runs to reach 600 home runs. When Pujols did connect on that milestone breaking homer it was truly a magical night. Unfortunately those nights were too few and far between for Pujols in 2017 as he had his worst year of his career batting a paltry .241 with a .286 OBP.
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Digging deeper into the numbers Albert had a career-high 93 strikeouts and a career-low 37 walks. The Machine had sprung a leak. Fast-forward to 2018 and Albert Pujols is yet again chasing a milestone. This time it is the 3,000 hit plateau. Pujols was 32 hits away going into Thursday’s season opener and after going 2 for 5 with a home run and a single he now sits 30 hits shy of 3,000.
The more important thing was that Albert on all but one at-bat looked pretty good at the plate. A resurgence from Pujols will go a long way in taking some pressure off of Mike Trout as well as Shohei Ohtani. Again this is only one game so it is too early to anoint Pujols as the Comeback Player of the Year. However, it was nice to see. In the end it will take a number of these games to get this reporter to believe that the Machine is back. However this was a good start.
Just like reaching 600 home runs, making to the 3,000 hit plateau is a special accomplishment. While the 600 home run club only has 10 members, the 3,000 hit crew is much bigger, but yet it is still not a common plateau to reach.
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Only nine players have hit more than 600 home runs in their career, while they are 31 players currently, with Adrian Beltre being the most recent addition in 2017 to reach 3,000 hits. Both milestones carry almost a sure-fire induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame (Rafael Palmiero is the only eligible member of the 3,000 hit club not to be in the Hall of Fame, and Barry Bonds is the only eligible member of the 600 home run club to not gain Hall admission. Both omissions due to suspected steroid use).
What is even more special is that Pujols will be only the fifth player to be able to achieve both 600 home runs and 3,000 hits for a career. Albert Pujols will be only the fourth player in MLB History to reach both milestones. Hank Aaron, Alex Rodriguez and Willie Mays are the other three.
As Pujols his closer to 3,000 hits the buzz will still be pretty big as it is still not an every day that you see. I remember being at the game when Rod Carew reached 3,000 hits in 1985 with a single off of Twins pitcher Frank Viola. The ball park was buzzing with anticipation every time Carew stepped to the plate, will it be the same for Pujols? The answer is most likely.
Today was a good day for Albert Pujols, will it continue is the big question. At the very least the Angels are hoping for Pujols to hit 25 home runs drive in close to 100 runs and bat at least .260. If this happens then today was a good day.