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Top 25 Baseball Stories of 2018 — No. 18: Albert Pujols notches his 3,000th hit

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We’re a few short days away from 2019 so it’s a good time to look back at the top 25 baseball stories of 2018. Some of them took place on the field, some of them off the field and some of them were more akin to tabloid drama. No matter where the story broke, however, these were the stories baseball fans were talking about most this past year.

Albert Pujols may no longer be the All-Star and MVP he once was, but he’s still out there chugging along. And, like most superstars, he’s spending the twilight of his career notching milestones.

On May 4 he made history by collecting his 3,000th career hit with a base hit off of Mike Leake in the fifth inning of the Angels’ contest against the Mariners. In so doing he became the 32nd major-league hitter — and second Dominican-born player after Adrian Beltre — to produce at least 3,000 hits over the course of his career.

Having already passed the 600 home run mark the year prior,  Pujols’ 3,000th hit put him in rare company: only Hank Aaron (3,771 hits, 755 home runs), Willie Mays (3,283 hits, 660 home runs) and Alex Rodriguez (3,115 hits, 696 home runs) had previously accomplished the feat.

As the season wore on he’d collect 82 more hits, passing the likes of Roberto Clemente, Al Kaline, Wade Boggs, Rod Carew, Rickey Henderson and Craig Biggio on the All-Time list. He’d also achieve a couple more things:

  • In early June he picked up the 1,952nd RBI of his career, passing Hall of Famer Stan Musial for sole possession of seventh place on baseball’s all-time RBI leaderboard; and
  • On July 12 he hit two homers — number 629 and 630 of his career — tying him with Ken Griffey Jr. on the all-time home run list. He’d hit three more over the course of the season to give him sole possession of sixth place on that particular leaderboard. 

Sadly, Pujols’ season ended in August with knee surgery. It happens with age. Due to that age and that deteriorating health, it’s sometimes easy to forget just how dominant a player Pujols was for the first 15 years of his career. But you don’t get to the rarefied air he inhabits without being an all-time great.

Pujols is under contract with the Angels for three more seasons. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether he’ll actually play all three of those seasons. If he does, he’ll likely pass a few more of his fellow all-time greats on various all-time leaderboards.

And if he doesn’t? Hey, who cares? He’s got nothing left to prove to anyone. He hasn’t for a long, long time.

No, the Astros aren’t being targeted for HBPs in spring training

Alex Bregman
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On Wednesday, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman was hit by Cardinals pitcher Ramon Santos. It marked the seventh time an Astros batter had been hit in spring training exhibition games thus far, the highest total among all teams. As expected, teams are exacting revenge for the Astros’ cheating ways!

Well, not quite. The pitch Santos hit Bregman with was a 3-2 breaking ball that got away. Usually, if a pitcher is going to hit a batter as an act of revenge, he’ll attempt to do it with a first-pitch fastball.

José Altuve was also hit by a pitch against the Tigers on Sunday. The pitch, which looks to be the off-speed variety, appeared to graze his uniform as opposed to hitting him flush, so it was likely unintentional on the part of pitcher Nick Ramirez.

Other Astros to have been hit in spring training thus far: Alex De Goti, Aledmys Díaz, Osvaldo Duarte, Dustin Garneau, and Jake Meyers. Not exactly a who’s-who list of Code Breaker operatives.

Will some pitchers intentionally throw at the Astros this year? Almost certainly, despite commissioner Rob Manfred’s warning. Have they been doing it from the moment exhibition games began earlier this month? Certainly not.