Albert Pujols' chase for 700 hom atlanta braves jersey women button up ers gets grand boost with recent bingeAugust 19, 2022
ST. LOUIS — The Albert Pujols countdown has officially kicked into high gear.
The Cooperstown-bound slugger clubbed the 690th home run of his career on Thursday afternoon, a pinch-hit grand slam in the third inning of what wound up being a 13-0 win for the Cardinals against the Rockies. We’ll get back to the rather amazing — and telling — context of that home run in a minute.
With 45 games left in the regular season, Pujols is 10 home runs away from reaching the magical 700-homer plateau, a milestone first reached by Babe Ruth in 1934, then Henry Aaron in 1973 and finally Barry Bonds in 2004. It’s a long shot, no doubt, considering that Pujols only has 11 home runs to this point of the season.
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Maybe more reachable — and satisfying, to many in baseball — would be to get to 697 career home runs, moving him one past the final total of Alex Rodriguez, who has admitted to using PEDs at two different extended periods during his 22-season career. That seems more reasonable, especially when you consider that Pujols has four home runs in his past six games, a stretch that includes a .526 batting average and 11 RBIs.
Yep, even at 42 years old, Pujols is capable of a home run binge.
“We’re just kind of living in his shadow right now, which is where we should be,” Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright said after atlanta braves mlb shop Thursday’s game. “He’s incredible.”
Wainwright paused, then said it again, more definitively.
Mr. Incredible came back to St. Louis for his 22nd and final season, not only wanting to once again play in the city where he became a superstar, but to contribute as an impact power bat off the bench. The Cardinals clearly outlined what they saw as his potential role — provide power against left-handed pitchers, off the bench and as the designated hitter — before agreeing to the contract, and Pujols gladly accepted the assignment.
“He came here to win, not just be part of a story,” Cardinals manager Oli Marmol said.
He’s been better than they could have hoped.
Overall, Pujols has a 132 OPS+, which is his best mark since 2012, his first year with the Angels. His on-base percentage is .335, his best since 2012. His advanced metrics tell the same story; his wOBA (.349) and wRC+ (128) are also his best since 2012. Statcast started tracking batted-ball data in 2015, and his 2022 barrel percentage (10.0) and hard-hit percentage (48.1) are tops.
“He’s been unbelievable, everything you would want and expect,” NL MVP favorite Paul Gold atlanta braves jersey 3xl schmidt told The Sporting News on Wednesday. “Obviously, he’s one of the greatest players to ever play, but he’s been such a great teammate, a great person. He’s very positive, helping players. Just sets the example for how I want to be and how I’d want other teammates to be. It’s great to have that example.”
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Pujols has thrived in part because the Cardinals are putting him in situations where he can thrive. In 92 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers this year, Pujols has a .363/.402/.700 slash line, with seven homers and 21 RBIs. He’s traditionally been a better hitter through his career with runners in scoring position — .995 OPS, as opposed to an .891 with the bases empty — and that’s no different this year. Pujols has a 1.032 OPS with RISP.
Which brings us back to his pinch-hit home run Thursday.
Think about what happened with that unlikely scenario. The Rockies started a right-handed pitcher, Antonio Senzatela, so switch-hitter Brendan Donovan was the DH, batting in the No. 2 spot in the lineup. Senzatela left the game with a knee injury in the second inning — he was hurt trying to make a play oRobinson Canon a grounder by Donovan — and the Rockies turned to lefty Austin Gomber.
When Donovan’s spot in the lineup came up in the third inning, the Cardinals had the bases loaded and a 6-0 lead with two outs. Marmol sent up Pujols to pinch hit. For the DH, in the George Springer third inning. Needless to say, that’s not a thing you’ll typically see. It probably didn’t hurt that Pujols had homered off Gomber in Colorado last week.
“He’s been killing lefties,” Marmol said. “The game’s never over, but you can put the game away there with a good swing. Thought it was good to get the crowd engaged. We felt good about it.”
And you know what Pujols did with Gomber’s 1-0 pitch.
“That’s what he does. That’s what Under Armourhe’s always done,” said Wainwright, who was teammates with Pujols from 2005 to 2011, a run that included two World atlanta braves jersey navy Series titles (though Wainwright was injured in 2011). “I tell those stories all the time, and now they really believe me, I think. They were like, ‘Yeah, right, he’s not THAT much better than so-and-so.’ And I’m like, ‘Just know that this is what he did all the time. This is him.’”
But back to the home run countdown. Can Pujols hit 10 home runs in the club’s last 45 games?
As we’ve seen the past week, he’s still capablMLB Hatse of home runs binges. But an extended run? Using Baseball-Reference’s span feature, we checked to see whether he’s hit at least 10 home runs in any 45-game span in the past few years. We limited it to recent history because, let’s be honest, what 26-year-old Pujols could do has very little bearing on what 42-year-old Pujols might be capable of to end the season.
Turns out, Pujols had a span of 10 home runs in 45 games in 2018.
And in 2019.
And in 2020.
And even in 2021, when the AnMLB Backpacksgels released him and he signed with the Dodgers.
Heck, he has seven in his past 21 games this year.
“He looks the same as when he left to me,” Wainwright said. “This is the way he’s supposed to look like, here at this stadium, doing these things. The other 10 years, I don’t know what happened, but the 12 I’ve seen him here, he’s been pretty good.”
The quest for atlanta braves vintage jersey 700 resumes this weekend in Arizona. The Diamondbacks, by the way, have a lefty starter on the mound Friday night. And another one Saturday. The Cubs are slated to start a lefty against the Cardinals on Monday, too.
Stay tuned, folks. Stay tuned.