Albert Pujols hit his first major-league homer the same season Mark McGwire hit his last. Fifteen years later, the former Cardinal finally surpassed his former teammate and coach.
Mike Trout and Pujols hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning off Blue Jays pitcher Marco Estrada to help power the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to an 8-2 road victory. The designated hitter went 4-for-4 on the historic night, a triple shy of the cycle. He even produced when he didn’t get on base, hitting a sacrifice fly in the second.
His 25th home run of the season gave him his 584th of his career, putting him one ahead of McGwire. Still productive at 36, Pujols quietly creeps up on Barry Bonds’ all-time mark of 762. He would need to play into his forties at a competitive level, averaging about 30 home runs over the next six seasons, to break the mark. That seems unlikely. But with Alex Rodriguez gone (and unlikely to produce much for long should he come back), Pujols looks like the best bet among active players to surpass Bonds. He’s still a longshot.
The three-time MVP now ranks tenth on the all-time home run list. Frank Robinson at 586 comes next, perhaps by Labor Day, for Pujols. Sammy Sosa, 609, and Jim Thome, 612, likely come next year.