Another night, another milestone for Angels veteran Albert Pujols, who solidified his Hall-of-Fame candidacy (not that his Cooperstown enshrinement was ever in doubt) by slugging the 661st homer of his storied MLB career with a fifth-inning solo shot Friday off Texas lefty Wes Benjamin. That broke a tie with Willie Mays, putting Pujols in sole possession of fifth on MLB’s all-time home run list, trailing only Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Alex Rodriguez.
The three-time MVP added another home run to his career tally for good measure, swatting a second solo blast in his next at-bat as the Halos cruised to a 6-2 win over their AL West rival. Friday represented Pujols’ 60th career multi-homer game (tied for sixth-most all-time) and first since May 11 of last year. Eighteen of his 60 multi-homer performances have come in an Angels uniform.
After beginning his career with a flourish in St. Louis, where he won two World Series, an NL batting crown and countless Silver Sluggers, the aging Pujols has struggled to maintain his blistering early pace, slashing a pedestrian .258/.313/.450 with just a single All-Star nod over his nine-year Los Angeles tenure. While his batting average and on-base percentage have sunk in recent years (hobbled by chronic foot injuries, the two-time Gold Glover has played sparingly in the field of late), the right-hander’s power stroke has never abandoned him with Pujols clubbing 20+ bombs in five of his last six seasons (not including the COVID-abbreviated 2020 campaign), averaging a healthy 96 RBI over that span.
If he sticks around long enough—Pujols still has a year remaining on his mammoth, 10-year, $240-million contract—the 10-time All-Star could conceivably make a run at A-Rod’s 696 career homers, the fourth-highest total in league history and the most ever by a player of Latin origin. Though no longer of All-Star caliber or anywhere close to the player he was during his Cardinals heyday, there aren’t many 40-year-olds capable of posting a .244/.297/.437 batting line at baseball’s highest level. Pujols happens to be one of those precious few.