As hard as it is to admit, a cancellation of the 2020 MLB season remains a possible outcome. With very little hope in sight, how will the shutdown impact Albert Pujols in his hunt for 700 career home runs?
Pujols has truly had a Hall of Fame career; he currently sits at 656 home runs, leaving him 44 shy of the elusive 700 club. Only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), and Babe Ruth (714) have hit 700 home runs or more during their careers.
Is there any possible way Pujols can cement his career by reaching this milestone?
When the Los Angeles Angels signed Pujols to a massive 10-year, $240 million contract back in 2012, nobody could have expected his body to break down like it has. However, even if there is some form of a season in 2020, Pujols still has 2021, assuming there is no pandemic or lockout.
In an interview with ESPN back in January, Pujols told ESPN, “It’s my last year under contract, but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep playing. I haven’t closed that door. I’m taking it day by day, year by year, but you haven’t heard from my mouth that I’m going to retire next year, or that it’s going to be my last year, or that I’m going to keep playing. I haven’t said any of that. When that time comes, we’ll see. Just because you have one year left on your contract doesn’t mean it’s your last year. It could be, but it could not be. God hasn’t put that in my heart yet.”
If the 40-year-old still has the desire to play after his current contract ends and he receives a short-term deal, he could find himself cemented in the 700 category.
With a home run milestone chase, this could entice the fans to closely watch. A season away from baseball could help Pujols stay healthy and even rejuvenate his career. Perhaps it could even give him the boost to chase the all time record?
While a longshot, he is 106 home runs away from tying Barry Bonds atop the all-time home run list. By 2022, the universal designated hitter rule could be in affect, making it more plausible for an Albert Pujols return to St. Louis.
Following a year-long break, a chance to go back home and break an MLB record would make for great television.
While baseball is still up in the air, it’s nice to consider what good can come out of this disastrous situation and how a good man can take a tainted record.
Editor’s note: the quote in the fifth paragraph was translated from Spanish to English.