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Albert Pujols ties Alex Rodriguez with 696th career homer, fourth on all-time home run list

Matt Johnson
Albert Pujols
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Cardinals star Albert Pujols hit the 696th home run of his career on Saturday night, tying Alex Rodriguez and snagging the fourth spot on the all-time home run list.

The 42-year-old signed with St Louis before the 2022 season hoping to have a few moments in the final year of his Hall of Fame career. Joining the team as a platoon bench bat, the 6-foot-3 slugger is enjoying a career renaissance that keeps on going as the Cardinals compete for a spot in the MLB playoffs.

Pujols entered Saturday night with 16 home runs, one shy of matching his total from the 2021 season (17 in 109 games). In his 89th game of the season, the Dominican native took a hanging 86 mph slider from Pirates’JT Brubaker and launched it into the seats at PNC Park.

As Pujols continues to pursue history on the MLB all-time home run list, he is still picking up other MLB records. He passed Barry Bonds’ record for the most home runs (450) off a different pitcher. He also tied Bonds with his 21st season with 15-plus home runs.

With the regular season stretching into the start of October, Pujols still has a few weeks to add to his memorable farewell tour. If he hits three more home runs, it will be his first season with 20-plus home runs since 2019 and the 17th time he hit at least 20 homers in a single season.

Will Albert Pujols reach 700 home runs?

MLB: Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals
Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports

No one expected Pujols to challenge for 700 career home runs at the start of Opening Day. In fact, many wondered if his final year would end prematurely with St. Louis forced to encourage him to retire instead of releasing him. Instead of struggling, Pujols has delivered one of his best statistical campaigns in several years.

We’ve seen an even better version of the right-handed slugger as of late. Since July 1, Pujols has hit 13 home runs and he entered the weekend with a stellar .313/.371/.648 slash line and w 181 wRC+ across his last 143 plate appearances.

Barring injury, Pujols will pass Rodriguez in short order to be in sole possession of fourth place on MLB’s all-time home run list. It means the next milestone will be him becoming just the fourth player in MLB history to hit 700 home runs.

St. Louis still has 22 games left to play on its schedule with the final game of its regular season on Wednesday, Oct. 5. While Pujols doesn’t play every day, the Cardinals’ advantage over the Milwaukee Brewers in the race for the NL Central crown should allow the organization to provide Pujols with even more at-bats.

If Pujols maintains his recent pace, hitting one home run for every 13 plate appearances, it’s realistic to think he’ll join the 700 club before the MLB season ends. If the unfortunate happens and he falls one homer shy, anything he doesn’t in the MLB postseason won’t count towards his total and many believe he is sticking to his decision to retire at the end of the year.