Old—and possibly very old—man Albert Pujols wrapped up a six-game homestand on Thursday with a harmless fly-out to right field, as his team’s final batter in a 12-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles. A fine result for the team, but a mild personal frustration, and probably a tremendous bummer for the 35,879 fans who showed up for a game against the dreadful O’s: Pujols finished the game stuck on 2,999 hits for his MLB career, and would almost certainly therefore grab historic number 3,000 on the road.
And so he did! In his third plate appearance Friday night against the Seattle Mariners, in the top of the fifth inning, Pujols reached out and slapped a Mike Leake sinker into shallow right field:
With the single, Pujols becomes the 32nd player in MLB history to cross the 3,000 hit threshold; as was mentioned in the broadcast, he became just the fourth to have also slugged at least 600 career dingers. That’s a pretty prestigious group—Pujols joins Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Alex Rodriguez on the list—but there’s at least one measure by which Pujols now stands all alone in the history of Major League Baseball:
For no reason other than that it is weirdly mesmerizing, please enjoy this strange graphic, which confirms that, yes, 3,000 of anything is, you know, a lot:
Pujols finished the night 2-for-4, with a two-run single in the top of the ninth to stretch the Angels’ lead to 5-0. Whatever his actual age, and however much he might’ve declined over the last several years, Pujols spent a solid decade as a historically great and prolific hitter, and this milestone, arbitrary though it may be, ensures that history will remember him as the generational player he genuinely was.