On a night when runs were at a premium in Texas, the Los Angeles Angels pulled off a win over the Rangers behind one milestone swing from the biggest bat in their lineup.
Albert Pujols' home run was his 569th, which tied him with Rafael Palmeiro for 12th all time. It hasn’t been a storied season so far for Pujols. His .228 batting average is on pace to be the worst in his career (he hit a career-low .244 last season).
Even so, Pujols’ home run was one way to offset one of his biggest issues: hitting against a defensive shift. Teams started shifting Pujols in 2012, but he managed to hit at least .284 with the shift on in each season from 2012 to 2015. This year, he has hit only .233 when the opposing team puts the shift on.
But there are signs that things could get a little better. He has a hit in 11 of his past 13 games, and he is batting .333 with three home runs in that span. His rate of hitting hard-hit balls (as determined by video review) is 19 percent, which is higher than the 16 percent rate with which he ended 2015.
Pujols has nine home runs this season, which puts him on a 32-home run pace. That would give him 592 home runs, ninth all time. It would also give him 14 30-homer seasons, tied with Barry Bonds for third all time. The only players with more are Hank Aaron and Alex Rodriguez, who have 15.
Hitting 40, as Pujols did the previous season, will be a challenge. But doing so would make him the ninth player to hit 600 for his career.