Dan's Dugout: Pujols Pounds His Way Toward 700 HR Club • Latino Sports

Baseball

Dan’s Dugout: Pujols Pounds His Way Toward 700 HR Club

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Even if Albert Pujols never returns from the left knee surgery that has shortened his 2018 season, the muscular first baseman is on the fast track to Cooperstown.

In 18 seasons, he’s hit 633 home runs, won three MVP awards, and made 10 All-Star teams. Plus he’s made enough money to buy land and property in his Dominican hometown of Santo Domingo.

Albert Pujols receives one of his 7 LatinoMVP awards from CEO Julio Pabon. Credit: Latino Sports

After spending 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, the 6’3″, 240-pound righthanded slugger stunned the baseball universe by signing with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Irate Cardinal fans vandalized a Pujols statue, picketed his restaurant, and pelted their former idol with hate mail.

The Cards wanted him back, for sure, but the Angels offered him more: a nine-year, $240 million contract that remains the fifth largest in professional sports.

His 2018 take is $25 million – not bad for an aging player who produced just 19 home runs and 64 runs batted in to accompany a .245 batting average and .289 on-base percentage this summer.

Pride, if nothing else, will plunge Pujols into a strict post-surgical recovery targeted toward the start of 2019 spring training next February.

On the field, the prime target for Pujols is 700 home runs – and perhaps many more. He’s probably three seasons away from joining Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth at that plateau.

Spending more time as a designated hitter, and less as a first baseman, should help Pujols.

His glittering resume includes a Rookie of the Year award, two home run crowns, and two World Series rings. He’s led his league in runs scored four times, on-base percentage three times, home

The booming bat of Albert Pujols helps an Angel attack also anchored by Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout . Photo by Frank Hyatt.com

Albert Pujols has 633 career home runs.
Credit: Frank Hyatt.com

runs twice, and runs batted in and on-base percentage once each.

In addition to his three MVP trophies, all earned during his National League tenure, he was MVP of the National League Championship Series. Though he is obviously slowing down, Pujols still averages 38 home runs a year.

In four of his first six years in Southern California, Pujols has reached triple digits in runs batted in. Pitchers insist he is still dangerous.

Should he choose to wear his Angels halo on his Hall of Fame cap, he’ll join Vladimir Guerrero, inducted last months, as the only players from that team to reach Cooperstown. Guerrero was the first Dominican position player to be inducted, following pitchers Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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