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Albert Pujols Joins Henry Aaron, Stan Musial, and Willie Mays

Albert Pujols hit a single to shallow centerfield last night as the Dodgers faced the Marlins in Miami. The single put him into a club with only three other players in MLB history. Henry Aaron, Stan Musial, and Willie Mays were the only members of the 6,000 total bases club in MLB history. Albert Pujols has now joined them.

The total bases milestone is not as talked about as some other milestones. After watching highlights of the hit on YouTube, it was not mentioned by the broadcasters on one of the feeds. It was just another hit. When Miguel Cabrera reached 5,000 total bases, it was the same thing. In some ways, it is just another hit. You can’t get a total base with a walk. It has to be a hit. That is why you don’t see Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, or Barry Bonds on the above list.

Still, it is an achievement that gives perspective to what kind of hitter Albert Pujols is. He doesn’t walk that much and he doesn’t strikeout that much. He puts the ball in play, and he is able to use the whole field and take what the defense is giving him.

Over the past few years, his style of play has not been very conducive to achieving a high on-base percentage. With a low-walk rate and a low batting average, it is hard to blame the Los Angels of Anaheim for designating Pujols for assignment. Jared Walsh replaced Pujols at first base this season, and is going to the All-Star game.

But, the Dodgers have given Pujols the role he needs to utilize his approach and age with a more complete lineup. He is not going to be the guy to carry the load. He is the guy who will get a pinch hit to help win the game. He is the guy who will take the ball the other way to drive in a run. He will hit a sacrifice fly, and the occasional home run.

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 02: Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Albert Pujols (55) smiles as he and catcher Austin Barnes (15) are congratulated by first baseman Max Muncy (13) after scoring during the Los Angeles Dodgers versus the Washington Nationals on July 2, 2021 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The two statistics that represent Pujols as a hitter are his career walks and career strikeouts. Before last night, he had 1,338 walks and 1,330 strikeouts. In this modern era, strikeouts are regarded as just another out. Most power hitters strike out over 100 times in a season, and Pujols has never struck out more than 93 times in a season.

Another thing that stands out when you look at his career numbers are that he almost has the exact same number of doubles and home runs. With 673 home runs and 671 doubles, Pujols is aptly nicknamed “the Machine”.

It is safe to say that it will be a long time before we see another MLB player reach the 6,000 total bases club. It will actually be a long time before we see another MLB player reach the 5,000 total bases club. There is a youth movement happening in baseball right now. That is a good thing, but that also means these type of milestones won’t be happening in the near future.

In the past five years, we have seen Albert Pujols (2016) reach 5,000 total bases. In 2017, Adrian Beltre reached 5,000 total bases. Miguel Cabrera joined them with his 5,000th total base on June 15 this year, and Pujols has now reached 6,000 total bases.

It will be a good eight to ten years before we have a chance to see this again. Mike Trout, Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado are some names that come to mind as possible future members of the 5,000 total bases club in the 2030’s decade. Getting to 6,000 total bases is hard to imagine, and that puts Pujols in rare company.

What kind of separation does Pujols have from the rest of the total bases leaderboard?

Cabrera is second on the active list with 5,026. Robinson Cano is third with 4,263. Nelson Cruz is fourth with 3,528. Joey Votto is fifth with 3,338, and Evan Longoria is sixth with 3,191. Pujols has twice as much as Andrew McCutchen, who has 3,000 total bases exactly and is ninth on the active list.

In doing research on total bases, it was interesting to find that Hank Aaron regarded one of his greatest achievements to be his total bases record. Aaron hit for 300 or more total bases in a record 15 different seasons. Aaron thought of this record as his proudest accomplishment, over his career home run record, as he felt it better reflected his performance as a team player.

In a year in which we lost Aaron, it should be put into perspective how difficult it would be for any player to ever get close to his total bases record. Pujols is 856 total bases behind Aaron on the all-time list, and we know Pujols was hardly injured at all throughout his career. The 99 games that Pujols played in 2013 was his lowest amount in any season before 2020. Yet it would still take Pujols accumulating close to 300 total bases over the next three seasons to break that record. Pujols will most likely retire at the end of the 2021 campaign.

In 1993, Carlton Fisk was released by the Chicago White Sox. In 25 games, Fisk was batting only .189, with one home run and four runs batted in. With one more hit, Fisk would have made it to 4,000 total bases. Fisk reluctantly retired with 3,999 total bases, the most ever for a catcher at the time. Ivan Rodriguez would end up with 4,451 total bases.

Topps will most likely create a Topps Now card for the Albert Pujols 6,000 total bases milestone. They were completely oblivious to Miguel Cabrera’s 5,000 total bases milestone a few weeks ago. I guess it depends on how much coverage it gains after the game. While the game was still being played, I was only able to find one tweet about this from a random twitter handle (see below). After the game, it started gaining more publicity and was mentioned by multiple sports news outlets.

Other Dodger News: It is one week before the All-Star Break, and the Dodgers had won nine straight games before last night’s loss to the Marlins. They had to replace Trevor Bauer‘s turn in the rotation. Bauer was scheduled to pitch on July 4, but MLB placed him on administrative leave for seven days. Over the weekend, the Dodgers played in Washington and visited the White House. They were the first championship team of the big four American sports leagues to visit the White House since the Coronavirus pandemic outbreak.

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