Could Albert Pujols' 700 homer hunt be over?
We are in serious times, with serious effects, and the baseball season is obviously a by-product of them. But of all the stories from all the players in the entire MLB, for me, none was as intriguing as Albert Pujols' 700-homer chase.
With the 2020 season start date uncertain, it seems unlikely that Pujols will have a good deal this year. He is under contract for one more season after 2020, but if he reaches 700 it depends on the great impact he will have in the 2020 season at the plate.
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Because Pujols is buried in a largely mediocre team on the west coast, people forget how good he was as a St. Louis cardinal. He is an infallible Hall of Fame member of the first ballot. He has earned over 100 career wins, per Baseball Reference (100.8 bWAR). Since signing with the Angels, he has been good, not great, compiling 14.2 bWAR over eight seasons.
The chances of Pujols reaching 700 were already slim. The slugger will enter the 44th season of 2020 with home runs below the 700 mark, and to reach that milestone in 2021, he would have to join a rather elite company.
In baseball history, there have only been 15 seasons (12 different players) in which a player age 40 and older has hit 20 or more home runs. If Pujols is going to hit 700, he will have to do something quite historic in his next two seasons, one that will likely be shortened by the coronavirus pandemic. Unless, of course, some miracles do happen.
The first would be for the season to start earlier than expected and for the MLB to be able to fight in 162 games. That is a difficult question. On the other hand, it's also silly, considering that a season that runs through December means the offseason will not be the offseason, the 2021 World Baseball Classic will likely be a victim of that, and players would still be fatigued by the length of the year, the doubles and all that jazz.
While players are apparently open to that idea, it is just ridiculous, with logical impasses everywhere. But that's what makes a miracle a miracle, right?
Anyway, the other miracle is that Pujols finds the fountain of youth, takes a sip, turns the clock back, and his 40-year-old body rejuvenates, and plays all (potential) 162 games and straps 30 home runs, instantly making 2021. season should look into your chase.
Most likely, none of these things will happen. And that's unfortunate, because with the way people dig the long ball, baseball could use another home run chase to enthuse fans in a happy home run league. Searching for A-Rod for 600 wasn't really sexy, given the steroid whispers beforehand, and that was the last big chase we got.
To say that Pujols' pursuit of 700 is an "unfortunate low,quot; is probably overstating and callous given that, well, people are dying and the coronavirus is a serious, severe pandemic (a reminder to practice safe and smart habits according to CDC guidelines). But it's still a little annoying to know that we probably won't be able to see this momentum win in 2020.