Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, with a solo home run against the Detroit Tigers, became the fifth player in MLB history and only the third player in the modern era to reach the 2000 RBI milestone joining Hank Aaron and Alex Rodriguez.
Pujols, 39, is playing in his 19th season in the big leagues. He spent 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals before signing a lucrative free agent deal with the LA Angels in 2012. Pujols has 639 home runs and 3,107 hits over his career.
Pujols is also is a career .301 hitter, despite a .208 average this season.
The ten-time All-Star also won three NL MVP awards between 2005 and 2009. He won the World Series twice with the Cardinals in 2006 and 2011.
OFFICIAL ALL-TIME RBI LEADERS
Hank Aaron 2,297
Alex Rodriguez 2,214
Albert Pujols 2,000
Barry Bonds 1,996
Lou Gehrig 1,995
Babe Ruth 1,990
MLB did not use the RBI as an official statistic until 1920. According to official statistics from MLB, Babe Ruth recorded only 1,990 RBI.
However, Baseball Reference dug a little deeper and determined Babe Ruth accumulated an additional 224 RBI when he played for the Boston Red Sox between 1914 and 1919.
ADJUSTED RBI LEADERS
Hank Aaron 2,297
Babe Ruth 2,214
Alex Rodriguez 2,086
Cap Anson 2,075
Albert Pujols 2,000
If you include 19th century records, then Cap Anson (with 2,075 between 1871 and 1897) will also be included in the Top 5 All-Time RBI list ahead of Pujols.
Pujols also joined another special club with Rodriguez and Aaron as the only three players in the 600/3K/2K Club with 600 home runs, 3000 hits, and 2000 RBIs.
Pujols reached the 2000 RBI Club without leading the majors in RBI. It’s sort of surprising to learn that odd fact, but after 18 full seasons in the big leagues, Pujols never clinched the overall RBI title. He’s come close and led the NL in RBI in 2010 with 118 that season.
Pujols set a career-high with 137 RBI in 2006 during his first World Series run. He knocked in 130 or more runs on three occasions.
“There are some 20,000 players who played this game and to be one on that list, that’s amazing,” Pujols told the LA Times. “You don’t accomplish it by yourself. You have to have guys on base and get the opportunity to drive them in.”
Pujols posted 14 seasons with at least 100 or more RBIs. He drove in 120 or more runs in a season six times. He also hit 30 HR and 100 RBI in the same season at least 12 times.
“It’s unbelievable,” said teammate Mike Trout. “2,000 RBIs, that’s a huge number. I don’t think I’ll ever see that again in my lifetime.”
Trout, arguably one of the best players in baseball today, drove in 668 runs in eight seasons with the Angels.
Souvenir 2K Ball
Both the Detroit Tigers and the LA Angels tried to secure the ball from the fan who caught Pujols home run. Ely Hydes, a law student from Michigan, caught the 2K RBI ball after Pujols hit a home run in the top of the third inning during an Angels 13-0 rout at Comerica Park. Hydes declined signed memorabilia and a meeting with Pujols.
“I don’t care about money,” Hydes told the local press. “I don’t want anything out of this. It’s folklore. I love it. I’ve never caught a foul ball in a thousand games. What a first!”
Pujols, who has always been a favorite among fans in both St. Louis and in the LA area, did not push Hydes for the ball. Hydes mentioned that he would probably give the ball to his brother who is a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan.
“Let him have it,” said Pujols. “Let him have a great piece of history. When he looks at the ball, he can remember the game. We play this game for the fans. If they want to keep it, they have a right to.”
“You feel honored just to be on the field with him,” said Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire. “He’s one of the elite hitters in baseball history, but he’s also a class act as a person.”
Dominican Home Run King
Pujols, born in the Dominican Republic, is currently 6th all-time on the home run list with 639. He trails Willie Mays (660), Alex Rodriguez (696), Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755), and all-time leader Barry Bonds (762).
Pujols is 21 dingers away from tying Mays. Pujols passed Ken Griffey, Jr. at the end of last season to move into sixth overall. He has six homers this season.
Pujols still has a couple seasons remaining on his 10-year $210 million deal with the Angels. Mays’ 660 mark is within range, but how about 700? He will need only 60 more home runs is 2.5 seasons to tie A-Rod and he’s 61 shy of 700.
“Albert’s one of the greatest hitters ever to walk the planet, without question,” said Angels manager Brad Ausmus, who also played against Pujols during his MLB career. “For about 10 years, he was the best.”
Pujols never hit more than 49 home runs in a season. However, he has seven 40-plus homer seasons. He also has 14 seasons with 30 or more home runs. Pujols played in only 117 games last season and he hit fewer than 20 home runs for only the second time in his career.
Pujols is also a doubles machine ranked #9 all-time with 645. He recently passed the legendary Honus Wager. Pujols has a shot at finishing his career in the Top 5 career doubles list. He needs only 24 more doubles to pass Craig Biggio (668), with Hall of Famer players George Brett, Nap Lajoie, and Carl Yastrzemski still ahead of him.
Most recently, CC Sabathia from the New York Yankees passed 3,000 strikeouts. That milestone had only been achieved twice before by left-handed pitchers.
Pujols will eventually become inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but he still has a couple of years of baseball still left in him.