Albert Pujols(notes) has been so good for so long that I think we've somehow started to take his numbers for granted. As such, we've greeted the first three months of his season with our usual doses of awe and admiration, but with the same business-as-usual approach that the Cards star uses everyday at the ballpark.
But if the spotlight-shy Pujols was hoping to ho-hum his way to another MVP season in 2009, he's got another thing coming.
Not only is he scheduled to be the hometown belle of the ball at the All-Star Game in two weeks, he officially trained everyone's eyes on his home run total with two blasts off Randy Johnson(notes) in Tuesday night's 6-3 loss to the Giants, bringing his '09 count to 30. He's only the seventh player to reach 30 by July 1 (it's been done a total of 10 times) and though it's the first time for Pujols, it's the 32nd time someone has reached the number by the All-Star break. He's the first player to hit more than 30 home runs in each of his first nine seasons.
The game capped off a great month for Pujols, though not necessarily for the Cardinals. While his team took advantage of his tear by going 12-17, El Hombre put up 14 homers (which ties a career-best) and 35 RBIs (which sets one) in June. He's currently hitting .332/.453/.743 and if that doesn't want to make most MLBers quit and do something else, it really should.
The crazy part? Pujols doesn't even think he's swinging the bat all that well (and if he thinks that about himself, you wonder what he thinks about his slug teammates):
"Yeah, I've got 30 home runs, or whatever, but I don't think I have that consistency that I had like I was the first two months in '06. It felt in '06 that every swing that I was taking, I was hitting the ball hard. I was seeing the ball so good. This year, yes, it's been great. It was a great month. So far, great season. But I felt that it's kind of like up and down."
So can Pujols top his career high of 49 homers from the 2006 season and make a run at the 60+ plus club? Given the attention and speculation that'd bring up, would he even want to?
Below, I've compiled a list of the players in the 60+ club, as well as those who had 30 homers by July 1st. Pujols has already played in 78 games. Only three played in more and only one of those guys — Sammy Sosa(notes) in '98 — went onto eclipse the number. On the flip side, Roger Maris, Babe Ruth and McGwire (v. '99) weren't even within a couple swings of 30 by the end of June. Chicks may no longer dig the long ball as much as they used to, but Pujols still has a shot to capture our attention with a run at 60.
— Without the benefit of game logs, I wasn't about to spend all the time going through individual box scores to see how many games Babe Ruth played through June 30 in these three seasons.