He did it.
Albert Pujols became the ninth player in Major League Baseball history to hit 600 career home runs, this after belting a grand slam against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday.
Still, baseball’s reaction to the milestone was relatively muted. Why was there not a bigger celebration for the three-time MVP?
“I think it’s because we’ve seen so many big numbers,” USA Today MLB writer Bob Nightengale said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Six guys (have joined the 600-homer club) since 2002, (including) Bonds and Sosa and the whole taint of steroids. I think people are just going to hold their breath and say, ‘We’re not impressed by it anymore.’”
Pujols became the first player to join the 600-club since Jim Thome in 2011. Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., and Sammy Sosa are among the more recent members of the club, while Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Willie Mays stood in rarified air for much of the 20th century.
Only three players – Ruth, Aaron, and Bonds – have ever hit 700 home runs. Can Pujols do that? And if he does, would people care?
“I think if he gets to 700, it could open some eyes,” Nightengale said, “and of course if he goes on past that and gets Bonds in his sights, then I think he’ll have the whole baseball world rooting for him. People would love to see a record with no taint, no asterisk, or anything like that of any PEDs.”
Pujols, 37, entered the season nine homers shy of 600. Nightengale thinks Pujols could reach 700 within the next three-and-a-half seasons.
“He’s still averaging 30 home runs a year,” Nightengale said. “There’s no reason why he can’t do it and get over 700 with a year left on that contract. Then if you’re that close, you might as well keep going.”
As for AL West, the Angels (29-31) are 14 games behind the Houston Astros (42-16), who have far and away the best record in baseball, not to mention a winning percentage of .724. There are only two other teams in the majors with a winning percentage over .600: the Nationals (36-20, .643) and the Rockies (36-23, .610).
That’s how dominant the Astros have been.
“It’s one thing to win,” Nightengale said. “I picked them to win the division, but to be on a record run like this, 11 straight wins – they’re going to challenge the Seattle Mariners for the most wins in baseball history.”
The Mariners went 116-46 in 2001.
“We all talk about the Cubs last year,” Nightengale said. “This is the American League version of the Cubs a year later.”