Last night in St. Louis, Albert Pujols became the first Major League player to hit at least 30 home runs in each of his first nine seasons.
Pujols now has 349 homers for his incredible 21st century career.
Later this week or early next, Pujols will hit his 352nd home run, which will allow him to pass Ralph Kiner for the most long balls in the first nine years of one’s career. For reference, Alex Rodriguez hit fewer than 300 in his first nine big league seasons.
While A-Rod, steroid issues aside, will now be very hard-pressed to pass Barry Bonds and become the all-time home run king (A-Rod, approaching his 34th birthday, hit No. 565 last night) Pujols, statistically, has a valid shot.
You don’t have to do much math to figure that if the Cards’ first baseman ends 2009 with roughly 380, he is halfway to Bonds. Pujols does not turn 30 until January of next year. Averaging just 40 for the next five seasons will get him close to 600 before the age of 35, when non-drug users generally slow down.
Can Pujols hit another 170 or so from age 35 on? That is the question. Barry Bonds hit about 350 after age 35, for what it’s worth, while Ken Griffey Jr. has only hit 119 due to injuries.
With alleged and confessed steroid use in MLB tainting many HR records in the eyes of fans and media, Pujols, assuming he’s clean (the czars are already doing drug tests on him regularly, which he’s passing), is the "Great Hope" for baseball fans everywhere.