Hitting 500 Home Runs used to really mean something. Then MLB allowed steroids by neglect for a fair amount of years, and a bunch of posers cracked the list. There are currently 27 people in the 500 home run, and 9 of them reached it in the 2000’s. Thirty One players are in the 3,000 hit club. Yet putting it all together for 500 HR and 3,000 hits? There are currently only 5 players: Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murrary, and (cough) Rafael Palmeiro and Alex Rodriguez in this club.
With one more hit, Albert Pujols will not only join that club but also have 600 home runs along with just Mays, Rodriguez, and Aaron.
While Eddie Murray is somewhat of the wild card on that list, it’s also interesting who is not on that list: Babe Ruth or Barry Bonds to name a couple.
This isn’t of course a surprise. The man who debuted April 2nd, 2001 (same day as Ichiro Suzuki) was an immediate success in St. Louis despite just being a 13th round draft pick in the 1999 draft. He won Rookie of the Year, the Silver Slugger, and was 4th in the MVP Voting. It does take longevity and a commitment to constantly tinkering with different workout routines to find out what works.
He was an All Star in 9 of his first 10 seasons, won the MVP Award 3 times and helped the Cardinals win the World Series in 2006 and 2011 before leaving for the Angels. While his numbers have dropped significantly since coming to Anaheim, (his average was never below .300 in St. Louis except his final season there at .299, and has never finished above .300 in Anaheim) he has still racked up numbers and accomplishments.
He has always prided himself on being a true hitter, as early on when it appeared he would be a Cardinal forever Stan Musial would talk with him often and impart what it means to be a true hitter. The two forged a close friendship to the point that Pujols said he hopes his kids grow up to be like Stan Musial. Grace. class.
Now Pujols is in Anaheim, mentoring the Next Great Player in Mike Trout while also challenging and competing against and with him. He is a man of pride, after all, and while he knows his body can’t do what it used to do, he still wants to compete.
Last year he managed to make his 600th home run a dramatic Grand Slam. He hit 3 home runs in a World Series game, not to mention what I consider a Top 15 all time dramatic home runs against Brad Lidge below.
Albert Pujols knows how to be a professional baseball player as he continues to play and is certainly on the downward slope but not even the twilight of his career just yet. He is getting rewarded now by not just having 600+ home runs, but also 3,000 hits. One of 6. Or 4(if you take out Palmeiro and A-Rod for steroid offenses). Or 3(if you only count non tainted 600 home runs). Not bad.
*The next two contenders to join the 3,000 hit/500 HR club are Adrian Beltre(3k+ hits, 463 HR) and Miguel Cabrera (2,666, 465) though health is a concern.