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.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.