Albert Pujols has been in his decline phase for a couple of years now. Almost all Hall of Famers experience this, of course, and eventually we’ll sort of forget that it happened. For now, though, it’s having the odd effect of making us forget, at least somewhat, of how bad, bad a man he has been over the course of his 17-year big league career.
But you don’t get to the milestones Pujols is reaching these days without being a bad, bad man. Last night, for example, he hit his 599th career homer. He also went 2-for-4, which brings him to 2,873 hits for his career, tying him with Babe Ruth on the all-time list.
Topping 600 — he’ll be the ninth player to do so — may not take too long, either, as Pujols has been hot lately, having hit homers in back-to-back games and in three of his past five outings.
Barring injury, Pujols should pass Sammy Sosa and Jim Thome before the end of the season to reach seventh on the all-time list. Next year he’ll have a good shot to pass Ken Griffey, Jr. Given that he’s under contract through 2021, Willie Mays is within reach as well, even as he declines.