Albert Pujols hit his 400th career home run on Thursday. Albert Pujols has hit all 400 of his home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals during a career that has spanned 10 seasons now. The easy math reveals that Pujols has averaged 40 home runs every season he has been in the league, and became just the 47th player in the history of the game to get to the 400 home run mark. He also became the third-youngest player to do so, and joined some very rare company among hitters with career averages better than .330.
It looked like Pujols might be able to zoom past the 400 home run mark against a worn out Washington Nationals pitching staff, but, after he was intentionally walked, Matt Holliday was hit by a pitch and forced to leave the game. With Holliday out, the Cardinals had to put the pitcher into his slot in the batting order, and that ended up getting Pujols intentionally walked two additional times on the night. Still, though, this will be quite the memorable night for the 30-year-old Pujols, one of the few players who has been able to avoid getting linked to the steroid stories while still hitting home runs. It will be very interesting to see if he can threaten some of the all-time records before his career is over.
The career statistics for Albert Pujols are simply astounding at this point, and, even if he were to retire tomorrow, they are worthy of a first-ballot Hall of Fame election. During his 10 seasons in the league, he has averaged 116 runs, 40 home runs, 120 RBI and a .333 batting average. Those rival some of the best statistics of all time, and there are analysts who would already place him among the elite players who have come before him. He still has a long way to go before the end of the 2010 season (his 10th year), so he could rack up even better numbers by the end of the year.
Pujols is one of those players who every baseball fan should see play at least once in person, and Cardinals fans have to consider how lucky they are to witness what he is doing for the game of baseball. All of this builds up a story that will end with Pujols mentioned among the greatest players to ever play the game. Among all that, though, has to be a fear in the Cardinals front office about the upcoming contract negotiations with Pujols. Will they make him the highest-paid player in baseball? Will he sign for a hometown discount? Or will we see Pujols break records for a different team?