Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols went deep twice Tuesday to join the 500 HR club. Both of his home runs — No. 499 and No. 500 — came off Washington Nationals RHP Taylor Jordan.
Pujols is the 26th player to hit 500 homers in the major leagues and the third-youngest player to reach that milestone. (Only Alex Rodriguez and Jimmie Foxx reached the 500-homer mark faster.)
Pujols also is only the third former Midwest League player to join the 500 HR club.* He played for the 2000 Peoria Chiefs, hitting .324 with 17 HR and 84 RBI in 109 games. He was the Midwest League’s Most Valuable Player and shared MWL Prospect of the Year honors with Austin Kearns of the Dayton Dragons.
One year later, Pujols was named the National League Rookie of the Year after hitting .329 with 37 HR and 130 RBI for the St. Louis Cardinals. He won NL MVP awards in 2005, 2008 and 2009, and led the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011. He hit 455 home runs for the Cardinals before leaving via free agency after the 2011 season.
If Pujols hits 22 more home runs this season — definitely possible if he stays healthy — he will pass eight players on MLB’s career homers list: Eddie Murray (504), Gary Sheffield (509), Mel Ott (511), Eddie Mathews (512), Ernie Banks (512), Ted Williams (521), Frank Thomas (521) and Willie McCovey (521).
* The other two former Midwest League players who hit 500 homers in the major leagues are Alex Rodriguez (654) and Rafael Palmeiro (569). A-Rod played for the 1994 Appleton Foxes. Palmeiro played for the 1985 Peoria Chiefs.