From 2001 to 2011, Albert Pujols was one of the greatest hitters baseball has ever seen. Pujols burst onto the MLB scene with 37 homers and a 1.013 OPS as a rookie in 2001. Even with that insane production, people were skeptical he could keep it up. He had never landed on any top-40 prospect lists, and here he was quickly becoming as good of a hitter as anyone in the league (well, behind Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Luis Gonzalez in that absurd 2001).

It kept up annually through 2011. Pujols put together a ridiculous slash line of .328/.420/.617 with 445 homers, and an average WAR of 7.9 over those 11 seasons.

Those were his years with the St. Louis Cardinals.

On December 8, 2011, Pujols signed a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The deal has gone quite poorly (and should only get worse), with Pujols putting together only one 4-WAR season (2012) and becoming a one-dimensional player due to injuries and age. That one talent the 37-year-old still has left is power, as he blasted 40 homers in 2015 and 31 homers in 2016.

Speaking of those home runs he’s still hitting, did you know that Pujols now has 598 career home runs?

I sure as heck didn’t, and I watch baseball or read about it for a pathetic amount of hours daily. I only found out by surfing through MLB.com’s video highlights and stumbling across Pujols hitting No. 598 on Monday night against the Atlanta Braves:

Did you know that only eight other players in MLB history have hit at least 600 dingers? The players to do it are Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), Alex Rodriguez (696), Willie Mays (660), Ken Griffey Jr. (630), Jim Thome (612), and Sammy Sosa (609). Only eight players in the history of baseball have done this before, and Pujols may join the list this week. Maybe even today.

And it seems very few people or outlets care.

Now, Monday had a couple of massive MLB stories, with Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland beating each other up, and Mike Trout needing surgery for a torn thumb ligament that will keep him out six to eight weeks (so Pujols wasn’t even the main story involving his own team yesterday).

But I was still pretty surprised to look around sites and see so little on Pujols approaching 600 homers. Like, it’s out there. If you Twitter search it, you’ll find some stuff. I turned on SportsCenter and they did cover it, but about 45 minutes into the show:

But it was nowhere to be found on MLB.com’s front page last night:

Or ESPN’s MLB page:

Or CBS Sports’ MLB page. Tim Tebow, though!

So you get the point. It’s like this everywhere.

My point with this post is to not criticize the lack of coverage or interest (again, I didn’t even know about it). I mean, it is a bit ridiculous that we spend much more time talking about things like Tim Tebow in A-ball, but we here at The Comeback and Awful Announcing are as guilty as any outlets of doing that, because it really does interest people (for some reason).

But why don’t we really care about Pujols approaching 600 homers? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself for a few hours now, and the reason I wrote this post.

And that question only led me to asking myself many more questions!

Such as…

** Did we already experience so much with the home run races in the late 90s and early 2000s —  Bonds, Sosa, McGwire, etc — that it’s just not all that interesting to us anymore?

** Did already seeing five players in recent history — Bonds, Griffey Jr., Sosa, Thome, and A-Rod — hit 600 homers make the accomplishment seem less incredible to us? And three of those players were of course linked to steroids, which leads to the next question…

** Are we left doubting the legitimacy of home run accomplishments from all players that were in the league at the peak of the steroid era? 

** Did the steroid era make us permanently less interested in all future home run milestones (say a Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper, or Kris Bryant hit 600 homers)?

** Is it that not too many people care about the Angels and the Anaheim market?

** And does Mike Trout being on the Angels make Pujols seem invisible?

** Does Pujols no longer being a star make it far less interesting? 

** Would this be a much bigger story had Pujols stayed with the Cardinals?

** Are Angels fans angry about how disappointing Pujols has been and even they can’t really get into it? 

Well, I certainly don’t have the answer, but I’m guessing it’s a lot of these things.

And I’m curious what you think (perhaps you have a reason I didn’t think of, or maybe you really do care), so let us know in the comments.

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

He can be followed on Twitter at @Matt2Clapp (also @TheBlogfines for Cubs/MLB tweets and @DaBearNecess for Bears/NFL tweets), and can be reached by email at mclapp@thecomeback.com.

17 thoughts on “Albert Pujols is about to reach 600 homers, and no one seems to care

  1. Well Matt, as an Angels fan I don’t have much interest. I did know about it living out of state for the last 10 years. Its another sub par maybe .500 season with no pitching again. With Trout hurt until the break at least, they will pitch around Pujols.

    I’m not disappointed the way he has played. Its his age and what I expected. I think there would be more interest if he was still with the Cardinals. Nobody West of Houston has a above .500 record in the AL so that doesn’t help. 600 will most likely be a solo shot late in a game with the outcome of that game already decided.

    1. If you think the Angels have no pitching, then you certainly aren’t paying attention. The pitching has been the best thing (outside of Trout). Eppler should win GM of the year for finding a passable starting rotation out of the dregs. And the bully has been lights out. It’s not the pitching.

      People don’t care because of HR fatigue. That’s the biggest reason. The 600 mark doesn’t seem special when a dude like Jim Thome reaches it. No offense to him, but did anybody give a care when he got his 600th?

      1. After all the steroid crap..of which ALBERT had no part, the HR Fatigue became a reality. No one calls Barry Bonds the Home Run King. that title still belongs to 2 men. Babe Ruth for the Older Era, and Hank Aaron for the more Modern era. AARON was brilliant. if he had played for New York,..or LA, or Cincinnati, or Boston or another BIG MARKET, other than Atlanta in the 60’s and 70’s,..He would be more beloved and might possibly have hit more Homers. He did all that..while under enormous scrutiny, pressure and threat from racists., I grew up in Atlanta and I am white. I was a boy when Hank Aaron played,,..and he was amazing. He POPPED UP too much ha ha ha..But his wrists could whip a bat around so fast and that line drive homer would be over the wall in 3 seconds. I love the guy. He never got the credit he deserves. Still holds many records. Truly great.

  2. Had Mozeliak and Pujols each been a little more flexible then A) He would still be a Cardinal & B) The team would have very aggressively promoted his success. There would be a crazy watch in St Louis to see when he passed the threashold.

  3. Longevity statistics don’t really mean much, especially with the current advances in modern sports medicine and performance enhancing pharmaceuticals. I’d rather celebrate statistics that help my team to a win on any given day, rather than those that show an older player is still on a roster somewhere. Derek Jeter’s final few seasons were painful to watch – undertaken only for ticket sales and ego.

    1. Painful, yes. But people still talked about it, paid attention to it and the media still covered it more. Had Jeter left the Yankees and played somewhere else in his final few seasons that would not have been the case. The “single team HOF” mystique at play. And a contributing factor to the disinterest in Pujols right now.

  4. I know the answers to some of these… or at least i’m about 99% sure I do.

    ** And does Mike Trout being on the Angels make Pujols seem invisible?

    Absolutely. Mike Trout overshadows everyone on the Angels. For obvious reasons… he’s a beast. And Pujols is no longer the machine. So the beast overshadows him.

    ** Does Pujols no longer being a star make it far less interesting?

    Yes. If Albert was still a multi-dimensional hitter capable of hitting for average and power and punishing pitchers in the post-season (who can forget his destruction of Brad Lidge?) he’d be getting a lot more coverage.

    ** Would this be a much bigger story had Pujols stayed with the Cardinals?

    Yes. Even with his decline. If he was still with the Cardinals their fan base (which i’m obviously part of) would be making a much bigger deal out of it. So would MLB, ESPN, etc. because he would still have the mystique of being a one team future Hall of Famer. Look at the press coverage Jeter could still get during his final couple seasons when he was a shell of his former self. Had Jeter not re-signed with the Yankees for those final years and played elsewhere it would not have been the same.

    ** Are Angels fans angry about how disappointing Pujols has been and even they can’t really get into it?

    I can’t speak for Angels fans as far as them being angry… but I have certainly noticed that they aren’t that interested. When I saw Albert playing in Anaheim a couple years ago, the first time i’d watched him in person since he left the Cardinals, the stadium had absolutely zero buzz when his name would be announced over the PA system and he’d walk up to the plate for his at bat. It was bizarre to watch in person because the only other times I had watched him play in person was when he was with St. Louis and his at bats were always a “stop what you are doing and watch” moment.

    As a Cardinals fan it’s been pretty sad to watch things play out. I’m not mad at him for choosing the money. It’s a business. I think he made a mistake from a legacy standpoint. He would have gotten the Jeter treatment in St. Louis and would be a baseball deity there like Musial, etc. But now it won’t be the same.

  5. Albert was given very BAD advice on leaving the Cardinals. If he were in St Louis..He would be better,..and because he was so loved and respected..he would have had MASSIVE coverage of his quest. He IS not the machine anymore..But even at that..If he were in a Red Bird Uniform..He would be happier and I believe would be simply better. TERRIBLE decision to leave. He WAS the Cardinals. Only Stan Musial was more beloved than Albert. It broke my heart when he left,..and i live in SE Asia. But MAN…When I saw him play..he was MAGNIFICENT!!

  6. If you didn’t know AP was that close to the landmark 600 point, something must be missing in your “sportswriter” awareness–maybe some bias against AP for some other reason or maybe you don’t like Downs Syndrome kids or something??? Pretty sad no matter what!

  7. First of all I’m a Cardinals Fan when Pujols left it left a bad taste in our mouths at least it did me and I know a few other people we were saying we hope he fails in every aspect because it was Greed that took him to Anaheim I really don’t think it was as much God as him and Dee Dee say was especially when she comes out and says that the Cardinals offer was a insult I’d say if it wasn’t for Trout being in Anaheim they would probably be like Seattle you really don’t hear much about them even with Cano being out there I mean when Junior was playing in Seattle in his Prime you seen Highlights after Highlights or what about Ichiro his time in Seattle now don’t get me wrong I used to Like Anaheim I always like the Scioscia Managed it was a lot like NL Baseball but when Pujols signed and CJ Wilson signed he totally changed the way he Managed that made his Teams Successful in the past but I have to admit that I try to look and see what Pujols has done here lately I think it’s going to be kinda like A ROD did when he was going for 600 and 660 for people get interested in it

  8. It’s simple: no one has heard “boo” from Pujols for years. He’s off everyone’s radar.

  9. I think a lot of it has to do with the Steroid Era. Home runs are still viewed as tainted. The other part has to do with the Angels franchise… it’s been straight out pathetic since Arte Moreno took over the team and put his ego in front of intelligent baseball men. Arte was the man who wanted to put Los Angeles in the title to give the team more exposure, and his “baseball” moves have driven the team out of sight that no one sees or cares about Pujols’ milestone or the Angels. It’s to the point where I wonder if anyone out here even cares about Mike Trout… then again, does anyone actually watch baseball anymore or do they have their heads buried in their Fantasy Football books?

  10. It is simple ALBERT PUJOLS BELONGS IN ST. LOUIS. He was the greatest all around player I have seen in 55 years of following baseball. I know realistically he had to move to the DH thus the American Leaque! LA is the wrong place, anybody that leaves a stadium in the 7th inning of a baseball game isn’t a REAL FAN! St. Louis has the greatest fans in baseball. I still follow Albert nightly! The man has 610 home runs & will pass Thome this season to be 7th all time in home runs! He already has more doubles & home runs combined than the immortal Willie Mays & he is a better person to boot! I don’t care if the man hits .130, he currently has 79 RBI’s with a chance at 100 this season. He is not the player he was, BUT NOBODY ELSE EVER APPROACHED his greatness! Maybe Ted Williams, that is all, & he was an ass! Albert deserves better in LA than he is getting, & it hard to perform for a bunch of So called fans in LA.

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