Mapping out Albert Pujols&#0 atlanta braves shirt vintage 39; potential path to 700 career homers

September 7, 2022 By Ryan Fagan 0

Albert Pujols (Getty Images)

Albe atlanta braves jersey acuna jr rt Pujols’ quest for baseball immortality has entered its stretch run, as he sits just five home runs shy of joining the ultra-exclusive 700-home run club with 26 regular-season games left in his Cooperstown-bound career.

It’s all very thrilling. 

To be sure, this isn’t a regular milestone. This isn’t going 3-for-4 on the season’s final day to finish with a .300 batting average, or throwing seven shutout innings to drop a season ERA below the magical 2.00 mark. This would be historic. 

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The only three players to reach 700 are, in order, Babe Ruth, Henry Aaron and Barry Bonds. Pujols, should he get there, would be the first player born outside of the United States to join that exclusive club. That matters for the 42-year-old Pujols, o atlanta braves kids jersey 6 f course, but it might even be more important for baseball fans in the Dominican Republic, for any Latin player who has looked up to him and learned from him during his Hall of Fame career. 

That’s pressure, for Pujols but also for the guy who makes up the lineup card every night. Oliver Marmol, in his first year as the Cardinals’ manager — and who is, by the way, 6 1/2 years younger than Pujols — has to weigh Pujols’ chase vs. the club’s goal of winning the NL Central and securing its spot in the playoffs. 

“It’s always in the back of your mind. I get it,” Marmol said before Friday’s game against the Cubs. “You want to give him a chance to get to 700. I’m no different from anybody in those seats tonight.Bryce Harper Trust me, I want to see it happen, too.”

Pujols didn’t homer on Friday, but did get two PAs off the bench. He started on Saturday (1-for-3 with a walk) and came off the bench on Sunday to pop a two-run home run. 

That was his 16th of the season, and his ninth since Aug. 10. In this most recent stretch, he’s batting .369 with a .425 on-base percentage and .831 slugging percentage. He’s looked very much like Vintage Pujols, the player who authored 11 incredible seasons in St. Louis before leaving as a free agent after the 2011 season.  

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It feels like a storybook ending is coming. BuCody Bellinger t that’s easier said than done. 

Here, folks, is the plan: “Matching him up against righties and, of course, every lefty, is what we’ll do moving forward,” Marmol said. 

What does that look like? 

For the next nine games, the Cardinals are only expected to face one left-handed starter, Milwaukee’s Eric Lauer on Sept. 13. The Pirates’ starter on Sept. 9 is unknown, but they don’t currently have a left-handed starter on the roster, so let’s assume that’s not going to happen. 

That’s not ideal. One start every nine games isn’t going to get Pujols to 700. 

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When Marmol talks about “matching up” Pujols against some right-handers, that essentially that means he won’t face the hardest-throwing righties with nasty stuff, but he will see the softer (relatively speaking) tossers. Maybe think about it this way: If the right-hander is a regular feature on the Pitching Ninja’s Twitter feed, Pujols probably will not be in the starting lineup. If the pitcher isn’t, there’s a chance. 

Does that change down the stretch? Probably, but we’ll come back to that in a minute. 

For now, let’s look at how he’s been used the past couple of weeks. Starting with Aug. 18, the Cardinals have played 20 games. Pujols started 11 of those and pinch-hit in eight of them. Don’t expect that to change. If you’ve bought a ticket to one of the Cardinals’ remaining games, you are almost certainly going to get to see Pujols take at least one plate appearance. 

The thin atlanta braves jersey nike small g is, pinch-hitti atlanta braves jersey kids customize ng Pujols against left-handers in key situations isn’t just about giving him a chance to reach 700, it’s giving the Cardinals their best chance to win baseball games. That pinch-hit home run he hit against the Cubs on Sunday? That came in the eighth inning of a 0-0 ballgame, and the Cardinals won, 2-0. 

“At the end of the day, knowing what you need to do, and hunt the pitch that you’re looking for, and just try not to do too much,” Pujols said after the game, as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “There are nights that you’re going to come through, and other nights that you don’t. Well, the nights that you do you just enjoy, and that’s what I’m going to enjoy tonight.”

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The pinch-hit grand slam he hit in the third inning on Aug. 18? That was the dagger in a game against the Rockies that the Cardinals wound up winning, 13-0. And it showed that Marmol is going to be aggressive with Pujols, using him in important situations but also giving him at-bats against pitchers he’s best suited to attack. For the home run against the Cubs, Pujols was pinch-hitting for the leadoff batter atlanta braves store near me , Lars Nootbaar. Against the Rockies, he was pinch-hitting for the No. 2 batter, Brendan Donovan. 

In 114 plate appearances against lefties this year, he’s batting .366 with 12 homers and a 1.191 OPS. Only one player in the majors has more homers vs. lefties than Pujols: Aaron Judge, with 13. Only two have a better OPS: NL MVP candidates Paul Goldschmidt Javier Baez Tigers Jerseys(1.379) and Austin Riley (1.197). 

“I think it’s been navigated to where he’s being put in a position to have success,” Marmol said, “but he’s taking good at-bats regardless, he really is.”

And so that’s why you might see Pujols start at DH against right-handers who he might have sat against in May. He’s taking good ABs against righties, and the clock is ticking. 

So there’s another factor at play, too. Winning the division is very important. If the Cardinals claim the NL Central title, they’ll host all three games of the best-of-three opening round in this year’s revamped playoff scenario. If the Brewers catch them, it’s possible that steep of a fall means the Cardinals would miss the postseason. If the Brewers catch the Cardinals and St. Louis somehow still claims a wild-card spot, they’d play every game of that best-of-three on the road. Not ideal.

When the trade deadline passed, the Brewers held a three-game lead in the Central, and it looked like a battle down the stretch was looming. But Milwaukee has kind of fallen apart — Tuesday night’s debacle against the Rockies, allowing nine runs after the seventh inning in a 10-7 loss was emblematic — and the Cardinals have thrived since the deadline. And, suddenly, the Cardinals are 8.5 up on the Brewers. With 26 games, that’s a very comfortable position. 

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As games melt away, it’s certainly conceivable that Marmol writes Pujols’ name into the lineup as the starting DH most nights. When you combine the chase for 700 with the solid ABs against right handers with the wrapped up playoff positioning — there’s very little chance the Cardinals could jump up to the No. 2 seed, which comes with an opening-round bye — Marmol might become public enemy No. 1 for not giving Pujols as many ABs as possible. 

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And, again, Marmol wants to see 700, too. 

“ThChristian Yelichere are times in this game when you take a step back from being locked in the game and you get to be a fan for a minute and experience it the way everybody else is, and that was one of them,” he said after Pujols’ Sunday pinch-hit home run.

Even with all the feel-good stories swirling around Pujols’ chase for 700, don’t think that he’s going to get grooved pitches. A reporter asked Cubs manager David Ross, jokingly, whether that would happen in the Cubs series. 

“That guy’s had enough at my expense, that’s for sure,” Ross DKNY Sport said. “I was in Cincinnati when he was as good (as ever). He’s had a really good career and 600-whatever is fine for now. When we leave, he can get 700.”

Of the Cardinals’ final 26 games, they play the Pirates the most — nine times, including the final six of the season, three at Busch Stadium, then three at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. That’s basically been Pujols’ second home during his time with the Cardinals; he has a career .351 average and 32 home runs in 97 games there. Think about it this way: Since his debut in 2001, only 13 players have hit more home runs at the ballpark, and they’re all Pirates and they’ve all played at least 213 games there. 

Oh, and Pujols has two homers in three games there this season.

Buckle up, folks. It should be a fun ride.