Albert Pujols: Welcome To “Club 500″
WASHINGTON – Albert Pujols’ 500th home run is a milestone, but it’s also a significant marker for the Los Angeles Angels and the investment they made in one of baseball’s premier hitters.
Pujols became the 26th player and third-youngest to hit No. 500 when he connected for his second of Tuesday’s game against the Washington Nationals.
Pujols’ 500th, off Washington’s Taylor Jordan, went into the seats in left-center field at Nationals Park with Mike Trout on first base, giving Pujols five RBI for the night and the Angels a 6-2 lead. They wound up winning 7-2.
Pujols’ homers were his seventh and eighth this season to give him the major league lead a season after he hit a career-low 17. His five RBI give him 18 in his past 13 games.
That’s as promising a return as Pujols has given the Angels since 2012, the first year of the 10-year, $240 million contract he signed. He’s making $23 million this season, a number that grows by a million each year through 2021.
Pujols hit 30 homers and drove in 105 runs in 2012 but was limited by injuries – most notably plantar fasciitis – to 99 games last season. In his 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, he led the National League twice in homers and topped 40 six times, including a career-high 49 in 2006.
Only Alex Rodriguez and Jimmie Foxx got to 500 sooner than Pujols, who is 34 years and 96 days old. Rodriguez was 32 years, 8 days when he got to 500 in 2007. Foxx was 32 years, 338 days when he got there in 1940.
Pujols hit No. 499 to stake the Angels to a 3-0 lead three batters into the game against Jordan, a line drive just inside the left-field foul pole. He’s the first player to hit Nos. 499 and 500 in the same game.
Pujols is the first player in five seasons to reach 500. When Gary Sheffield, the most recent new member of the club got his on April 17, 2009, he capped a stretch in which eight players got to 500 in a span of six seasons.
He becomes the 12th player with 500 career homers, 500 doubles and 1,500 RBI, joining Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Eddie Murray, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson,Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Manny Ramirez and Rodriguez.