Albert Pujols has added another milestone to his Hall of Fame worthy career.
The Los Angeles Angels first baseman became the all-time hits leader among players born outside the United States during Wednesday's 7-4 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The legacy of The Machine continues to grow. pic.twitter.com/xFpfx1zrVj— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) August 15, 2019
Pujols passes Beltre for hits by foreign-born player
Pujols, who was born in the Dominican Republic, hurdled fellow countryman and another potential Hall of Famer, Adrian Beltre, with career hit No. 3,167. Fittingly, Pujols drove in a run with the fourth-inning single, which sparked a four-run rally.
Beltre held the top spot for 14 months after passing Ichiro (3,089) last June. Rod Carew (3,053) held the top spot for 32 years before Ichiro claimed the top spot.
Pujols has racked up major milestones left and right over the last three seasons.
On June 3, 2017, he became the ninth player to reach 600 career home runs by launching a grand slam against former teammate Ervin Santana.
On May 4, 2018, he became the 32nd member of the 3,000 hit club.
Then on May 9, 2019, he joined Hank Aaron and Alex Rodriguez as the only players to officially notch 2,000 RBIs.
Pujols is keeping exclusive company in each of those groups. He’s also creating new milestones for others to chase after becoming the first player in MLB history to reach 650 home runs and 650 doubles on July 28.
Which players will challenge Albert Pujols’ record?
The 38-year-old Pujols isn’t the hitting machine he once was, but he’s still capable of racking up decent numbers. If he sticks around even a couple more seasons and stays healthy, he’ll likely challenge for 3,500 hits. That would pad this record quite nicely.
The next closest active player is Venezuela’s Miguel Cabrera. The 36-year-old slugger has 2,784 career hits. Injuries have slowed Cabrera down a lot in recent seasons, which makes him a long shot to ever catch Pujols.
Robinson Cano (2,552) is the only other active foreign-born player with more than 2,000 hits. He, too, is having a difficult time staying on the field in his age-36 season and is therefore a long shot.
The next real challenge will likely come from a player who debuted during this decade. Players like Jose Altuve (29 years old, 1,521 hits), Starlin Castro (29, 1,537), Francisco Lindor (25, 792) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (20, 93) are all setting a strong pace.
Worth noting there, Guerrero Jr. will have a full year head start on Pujols, who didn’t debut until he was 21 years and 76 days. Guerrero won’t reach that age until Sept. 8, 2020.
For now, though, and perhaps for decades to come, it’s Pujols’ honor to hold.
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