He had a season that many ten year veterans can only dream about, and he did it at age twenty-one. He hit thirty-seven home runs that year. Last night, over sixteen years later, Pujols hit his 600th. Now a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Albert, dubbed The Machine many years ago, is nowhere near the player he once was. Yet in deterioration, the reaping of a career's effort now comes to pass. As Pujols joins a now-nine man club of all-time sluggers, it is evident that though the bright years of his youth have long since faded, Albert Pujols will be considered one of the greatest to ever step into a batter's box.
Over the years, Pujols was a model of consistency and it was not all about the dingers. For eleven straight years to begin his career, his OPS was over .900, with a majority of those seasons above 1.000. Just look at his career numbers for extra base hits.
|17 Y||17 Y||9343||608||16||600||.959|
|NL (||NL (||6312||455||15||445||1.037|
|AL (||AL (||3031||153||1||155||.793|
The only other player in history with more than six hundred doubles and six hundred or more home runs is Hank Aaron, the greatest power hitter of the twentieth century.
Albert is 124 hits from 3,000. Only three players in history have that many hits and six hundred home runs. Hank Aaron, Alex Rodriguez, Willie Mays. In all likelihood, however, Pujols will need to beat back father time to join Aaron in the 3,000/700 club, one narrowly missed by Barry Bonds.
The names Pujols is associated with are legends. Myths. Faces on baseball's Mount Rushmore, for better or worse.
The somewhat rapid decline of his offensive prowess has tampered with an otherwise glowing career. Over the first eleven years, Albert snagged three MVP awards and was runner up three times. He finished in the top-five in all but one of those seasons.
In 2012, after winning a second World Series with St. Louis, Pujols left for the Angels. There he was hidden by East Coast media outlets and a rookie phenom who took the game my storm, much in the way Albert had done over a decade earlier. With the attention drawn to Mike Trout, Albert Pujols mellowed out and continued to amass a longer list of career accomplishments. Now thirty-seven, the dominant years of Pujols' career are all but a distant memory. Yet in the masked decay of a monolith figure, Pujols has remained one of the game's best, merely eroded by the evidence that he is no longer the most terrifying hitter in baseball.
As careers go, it will be tough to find one more golden than that of Albert Pujols. Just look at his line from last season, when he was washed up and fading.
Now that is a line many ten year veterans can only dream about, and he did it at age thirty-six.