With a second-inning solo home run off of James Shields on Wednesday night, Angels 1B/DH Albert Pujols broke his tie with Ken Griffey, Jr. and took sole possession of sixth place on Major League Baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard with 631 career home runs.
Pujols, 38, now has his sights on Willie Mays, who is in fifth place with 660 career home runs. Alex Rodriguez is fourth at 696, followed by Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755), and Barry Bonds (762).
Pujols entered the night batting .248/.287/.425 with 16 home runs and 52 RBI in 376 plate appearances on the season. He has been more productive than he was last year, but he is still not quite the hitter he was in his mid-30’s and younger. Pujols is under contract with the Angels through 2021, earning another $87 million over the next three seasons.
The Yankees’ 2019 run ended in heartbreak on Saturday night when, despite a stunning ninth-inning comeback, they fell 6-4 to the Astros and officially lost their bid for the AL pennant. Now, facing a long offseason, there are a few decisions to be made.
One of those falls on the shoulders of outfielder Aaron Hicks, who told reporters that he “thinks he can continue playing without Tommy John surgery.” It’s unclear whose recommendation he’s basing that decision on, however, as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch points out that Tommy John surgery was recommended during the slugger’s most recent meeting with Dr. Neal ELAttrache.
Hicks originally sustained a season-ending right flexor strain in early August and held several consultations with ElAttrache and the Yankees’ physician in the months that followed. He spent two and a half months on the 60-day injured list and finally returned to the Yankees’ roster during the ALCS, in which he went 2-for-13 with a base hit and a Game 5 three-run homer against the Astros.
Of course, a handful of strong performances doesn’t definitively prove that the outfielder is fully healed — or that he’ll be able to avoid aggravating the injury with further activity. Granted, Tommy John surgery isn’t a minor procedure; it’s one that requires up to a year of rest and rehabilitation before most players are cleared to throw again. Should Hicks wait to reverse his decision until he reports for spring training in 2020, though, it could push his return date out by another six months or so.