Los Angeles Angels superstar Albert Pujols hit his 564th and 565th home runs Monday, surpassing Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson and putting him 13th all time in career home runs.
"Even to put my name with those legends in baseball before me is pretty special," Pujols said after passing Jackson, per Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. "I would've never thought in my entire life that I'd be able to do that. I've done some crazy things in this game and passed some unbelievable names, but my only focus is to help this organization to win."
Pujols, a surefire Hall of Famer himself, has had a rough start to the season, as he's hitting .171 with five home runs and 14 RBI. His struggles included a career-worst 0-for-26 slump that he finally broke with his 563rd home run in the first inning of a 9-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Sunday. However, he showed up in vintage form Monday against the Kansas City Royals with two solo home runs to surpass Jackson.
Pujols wasn't too worried about his slow start, as he revealed after tying Jackson's home run mark.
"Sometimes when [the hits] come, they come in bunches," he told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. "When you struggle, you just struggle. The main thing is to stay positive all the time. I've been in this situation before. I know how to get out of it—don't force anything, don't press, clear my mind and do the things I have to do."
Indeed, Pujols has started to show his age. While the 36-year-old continues to hit for power—he ripped 40 home runs and 95 RBI in 2015—his .244 batting average and .307 on-base percentage last season were the worst of his career.
Players within reach now on the all-time home run list include Rafael Palmeiro (569), Harmon Killebrew (573), Mark McGwire (583) and Frank Robinson (586).
This latest accomplishment, however, is just another achievement on a lengthy list of impressive milestones. Pujols is a 10-time All-Star, three-time NL MVP, six-time Silver Slugger, two-time Gold Glove Award winner and a two-time World Series champion. He was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2001 and promptly hit .300 or better with at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI in his first 10 seasons.
The Angels will be hoping Pujols is now coming through his early-season struggles and will consistently produce as the team's cleanup hitter. The Angels haven't played well to start the season, opening with a 9-11 record, and Pujols' early struggles haven't helped.
But if he gets hot, the combination of Pujols, Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun in the middle of the lineup gives the Angels a dangerous power trio.
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