Albert Pujols finally has done what Stan Ross never could.
(R.I.P. Bernie Mac.)
The Los Angeles Angels first baseman made Major League Baseball history by recording his 3,000th hit Friday night against the Seattle Mariners. Pujols accomplished the feat by flaring an opposite-field single off Mariners right-hander Mike Leake in the fifth inning.
Watch Pujols reach the milestone in the video below:
The 38-year-old future Hall of Famer later picked up hit No. 3,001 in the Angels’ 5-0 win.
Pujols becomes the 32nd member of MLB’s 3,000-hit club. The last player to join the group was Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, who reached the milestone last July.
Perhaps more impressive for Pujols, however, is that he now is just the fourth player in MLB history to amass 3,000 hits and 600 home runs in a career.
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So, where does Pujols, who no doubt will enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame on his first try, rank among the game’s greats?
In his first 11 seasons, all with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols hit .328 with 2,073 hits and 445 home runs. Oh, and he managed a mind-boggling 1.037 OPS in that time span, as well. But since joining the Angels in 2012, the Dominican slugger has hit just .268 with a .776 OPS over six-plus seasons — though his 928 hits and 175 homers are nothing to snuff at.
The dip in performance over the latter portion of his career has Pujols’ career batting average currently sitting at .304, which has him tied for 134th in MLB history with Robinson Cano and Mel Ott, among others. Furthermore, the decline in power — Pujols averaged 40 homers per year with the Cardinals, but has averaged just 25 per season with the Angels — has all-but eliminated his hopes of catching Barry Bonds’ career home run record of 762.
Still, his 620 career homers put him seventh all-time, and, if he stays healthy, he has a decent chance of finishing as high as fourth by the time he retires. Currently ranking ahead of Pujols on the career homer list are Ken Griffey Jr. (630), Willie Mays (660), Alex Rodriguez (696), Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Bonds.
In any event, Pujols’ career really should be viewed for what it is, rather than what it could have been. And the reality is that, no matter which way you slice it, he’s one of the greatest hitters the game of baseball has ever seen.
Not bad for a guy who was drafted in the 13th round of the 1999 Amateur Draft.
Thumbnail photo via Jennifer Buchanan/USA TODAY Sports Images
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