St. Louis Cardinals legend Albert Pujols became the fourth player in Major League Baseball history to reach 700 career home runs on Friday night with a two-homer effort against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Pujols joins distinct company in the form of some of the most prolific sluggers the game has ever seen: Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth.
Pujols first clubbed career home run 699 in the third inning:
Then, in the fourth, Pujols connected with No. 700.
That was a five-RBI night before the fifth inning.
Pujols entered the season with the Cardinals knowing it was his last before retirement. He's never strayed from his declaration that he was playing in 2022 and not a single year longer, despite the possibility that he could get so close to 700 and still fall short. It's actually somewhat a surprise that he's gotten to this point. It took a second-half surge.
Pujols had just six home runs in the first half. He now has 15 since the All-Star break. In the process, he surpassed Alex Rodriguez -- who has 696 career home runs -- for fourth on the all-time list. Getting to 700 doesn't move Pujols on the career leaderboard; it's just a nice-round number. We celebrate things like 500 home runs, 3,000 hits, 3,000 strikeouts and the like, so being the fourth person to 700 home runs is a pretty significant accomplishment.
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Pujols, like Aaron, never had a 50-homer season. He hit at least 40 seven times. Only Aaron, Ruth, A-Rod, Bonds, Harmon and Killebrew did it more often. He topped 30 in 14 of his 22 years, one behind Aaron and A-Rod. In moving to 20-plus this season, that makes 18 of his 22 with at least 20 longballs. He moves ahead of Frank Robinson and Willie Mays, who each had 17 20-homer seasons, and trails only Aaron and Bonds.
It's not just the home runs, obviously. Pujols is 10th in hits (over 3,000, obviously), fifth in doubles, third in RBI (behind Aaron and Ruth), 12th in runs and second in total bases (Aaron).
Still, the home run is the most-celebrated stat in baseball as it is the single most-impactful outcome that can happen on a baseball play. Pujols has been one of the best in history in maxing out on this front.