Los Angeles Angels star Albert Pujols has built a Hall of Fame career, but the shortened season may doom his pursuit of the career RBI record.
When the Los Angeles Angels inked then 32-year-old slugger Albert Pujols to a 10-year, $254 million deal on December 11, 2011, the thought was that they were acquiring a premium slugger, at a premium price. They did so knowing full well that the contract would take him through his age-41 season. The hope was that the value would be garnered in the early years of the deal and help offset some of the loss of skill as it came to an end.
However, that wasn’t to say that there wouldn’t be value in the latter years of the contract. One of the beautiful things about having a future Hall of Famer on the roster is his pursuit of career milestones. The Angels have already been the beneficiaries of Pujols’ 500th and 600th home runs, and his 3000th hit. Coming into 2020, the team was looking forward to another potential domino to fall; the career RBI record.
Entering the 2020 season, Pujols sits in 4th on the all-time RBI list with 2,075. With just 11 RBI sitting between him and Alex Rodriguez for third place, Pujols could easily move into that spot. However, his eye is on the bigger prize, with Babe Ruth (2,213) and Hank Aaron (2,297) the only remaining pillars to fall. That leaves Pujols with 223 RBI to capture that all-time title.
With two seasons left on his contract, it was already an outside chance that Albert Pujols would capture the RBI crown. He’d need to average 111.5 RBI per season in 2020 and 2021 to hit the mark. Considering that he’s averaged 109 RBI per season over his 19-year career, that would sound in reach. However, Pujols hasn’t driven in 100 runs in a season since 2017 and averaged just 93 RBI per season as a member of the Angels.
Of course, that factors in full-season averages. However, as we already know, 2020 will be far removed from being a full season, with only 60 games on the docket due to Coronavirus.
Considering his average of .667 RBI per game played in a Halos uniform, playing every game this season and next, and even assuming a full 162-game season in 2021, Pujols would tally 148 of the 223 RBI needed. That leaves him at least 75 RBI short of being in sole possession of the RBI title. Or put another way, Pujols would need one additional season to complete the quest.
While the slugger had an outside shot of completing the pursuit in an Angels uniform with two full seasons, the shortened 2020 season will all but doom his chances. Now, the Angels have a 10-year personal services contract with Pujols upon completion of his player contract, but the slugger may wish to play one more season to get the title. Whether the Angels would want to bring him back for one more year remains to be seen, and will likely be based heavily on how well (and how much) Pujols plays over the next two campaigns. Even then, it would undoubtedly come at a much cheaper price than the $30 million he’ll earn in 2021.
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Would you want to see Albert Pujols return to the Angels in 2022 in order to pursue the all-time RBI crown or do you feel like a 42-year-old Pujols should simply start his retirement upon the completion of his current contract?