Albert Pujols has hit the 500th home run of his career, becoming the 26th player in Major League Baseball history to reach that milestone.
The Angels’ slugger did it with a pair of shots against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.
He hit a three-run homer beyond left field off starter Taylor Jordan in the first inning for No.499, then added a two-run shot for No.500 to left-centre with no outs in the fifth, again off Jordan.
About three months past his 34th birthday, he’s the third-youngest to get to 500. Alex Rodriguez and Jimmie Foxx were both 32.
Pujols has eight homers this season, all in the past 13 games.
After a couple of down-for-him years with the Angels following 11 transcendent seasons with the St Louis Cardinals, a healthier Pujols appears ready to reclaim his spot among the game’s elite hitters.
He homered Friday and Saturday in games at the Detroit Tigers to lift his career total to 498, and he’s reached the round number of 500 – a total that remains hallowed despite losing its lustre in recent years because so many players have surpassed it.
Of the 26 members of the 500-homer club, 11 have reached the mark in the past 15 years. Gary Sheffield was the most-recent player to do it, hitting No.500 on April 17, 2009.
“It’s huge. That’s a lot of balls over the fence. That’s a lot of them. Albert’s one of the great hitters of this generation,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said.
“The ability to not only hit home runs, but the ability to hit .330 and drive in 100-plus every single year – that’s saying something.
“That’s the ultimate guy you want on your team, because he provides it all.”
A nine-time All-Star, Pujols hit 455 homers with the Cardinals.
So many power hitters of this era have come under suspicion of using performance-enhancing drugs. Earlier this year, radio host and former Cardinals player Jack Clark apologised for and retracted comments he made in 2013 implying that Pujols used steroids. Pujols sued Clark for defamation in October.