Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (5) rounds third base after hitting a two-run home run during the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. This was Pujols 500th career home run. Los Angeles Angels defeated Washington Nationals 7-2. (USA TODAY Sports: Tommy Gilligan)
Fans and media are still suffering from home run fatigue.
It is one of undeniable remnants of baseball’s Steroid Era.
Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols hit his 500th career home run Tuesday night in Washington when he connected off Nationals right-hander Taylor Jordan and it barely registered on the national consciousness. Pujols’ feat didn’t make the front sports page of many newspapers, and received modest television attention.
Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Kyle Lohse, who was a teammate of Pujols with the St. Louis Cardinals, found that odd.
“I don’t know why that is,” Lohse said. “Maybe because Albert is playing on the West Coast now? Maybe because he’s put up big numbers for so many years that everyone just expected he would hit 500? It’s a shame because Albert is a great player and a great person. He deserves all the credit in the world.”
Pujols became the 11th slugger to join the 500 Home Run Club since 1999, when just 15 players had reached the milestone. That leads to the question of whether getting to 500 means very much anymore?
Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun thinks it does and he knows something about home runs, having hit 217 in eight seasons.
“I’d love to reach that milestone,” Braun said. “It’s a very special milestone and I think people forget how consistently good a player has to be for a long time to hit 500 home runs. It’s a huge accomplishment and it’s fitting that Albert (reached) it because he’s the greatest hitter I’ve ever played against.”
If the new standard to get excited about is 600 home runs, then Pujols seems on his way. He had two sub-par — by his standards — seasons with the Angels in 2012-13 after leaving the Cardinals as a free agent and signing with Los Angeles for $240 million over 10 years.
Pujols is rebounding in an MVP sort of way this year and leads the major leagues with eight home runs through 21 games.
“This year in spring training he told me he said, ‘Hey man, I feel good this year,’” Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick said. “It’s great to see him playing well and being his old self. He looks like the Albert of old.”