Aug 23, 2022 - Sports

Albert Pujols chases 700 home runs as his career winds down

Photo illustration of Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth.

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Scott Kane, Diamond Images, Ron Vesely/MLB Photos, Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

Only three players in MLB history have launched 700 career home runs. Can Albert Pujols, weeks from his retirement and on the doorstep of joining that exclusive club, become the fourth?

Driving the news: Pujols, 42, hit yet another bomb last night — his 14th of the season and seventh in his last 10 games.

  • He's now at 693 HR, and with 41 games — and one HR every 4.4 at-bats in the past two weeks — 700 is legitimately in play for the St. Louis Cardinals star.
  • Wild stat: Pujols is slugging 1.300 in his past 10 games, the highest slugging percentage of any 10-game span in his career.

What he's saying: "I'm still going to retire, no matter [how many I hit]," Pujols told USA Today amid speculation that he might come back next season just to reach 700. "I don't get caught up in numbers."

  • "If you were going to tell me 22 years ago that I would be this close, I would have told you that you're freakin' crazy. My career has been amazing."

Between the lines: Barry Bonds (762 HR), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) are the only three to reach the milestone Pujols is chasing.

  • Pujols has followed a similar blueprint as Aaron, as neither hit 50 in a season, but routinely put up solid numbers for two decades.
  • Bonds and Ruth leaned on long, productive primes, both averaging over 40 bombs a year from age 25 to 39.

The big picture: A handful of active players are long shots to reach 700. Mike Trout (334), Bryce Harper (282), Juan Soto (121) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (98), to name a few. But there's a reason the club is so small.

  • For 20+ years, just about everything has to break right. Just ask Ken Griffey Jr. (630), who looked like a lock until injuries derailed his career. Or Alex Rodriguez, who will forever be stuck at 696.

The bottom line: 700 home runs is hallowed ground, and Pujols is so close. Let's see if "The Machine" can go out with a bang.

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