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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Pujols joins a more elite list than 400 homers

Albert Pujols hit his 33rd home run of the season Monday night. How does that stack up in the history books?

Pujols' home run (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)As many St. Louis Cardinals fans know, first baseman Albert Pujols launched a three-run home run in the first inning of Monday night’s game in Pittsburgh, aiming the Cardinals toward an important win. It happened on the first pitch Pujols saw from Bucs reliever Sean Gallagher.

Most recognized the long ball as the 399th of Pujols’ career and are focused on when the milestone number 400 will occur. At 399, Pujols tied Al Kaline and Andres Galarraga for 47th place on the all-time list.

Less noticed was that Monday’s blast was also Pujols’ National League-leading 33rd of the season. With the help of researcher Tom Orf, we learn Pujols has joined a more elite list than the 400 home run club – one that indicates long-term staying power. On Monday, Pujols become just the 15th player in MLB history to have at least nine seasons of 33 or more home runs.

Looking at the list below, we see that five of the 15 are still active, but Pujols is the only one who has hit 33 since 2008. That season was the last time Alex Rodriguez, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez and Carlos Delgado crossed the threshold. With his ninth such season, Pujols tied his current hitting coach, Mark McGwire. Barry Bonds is the career leader with 14 33-homer seasons.

33 or more home run seasons, MLB career

Rk Player Yrs 1st Last
1 Barry Bonds 14 1990 2004
T2 Hank Aaron 13 1957 1973
T2 Babe Ruth 13 1920 1933
T4 Alex Rodriguez 12 1996 2008
T4 Mike Schmidt 12 1974 1987
T6 Jim Thome 11 1996 2008
T6 Manny Ramirez 11 1996 2008
T6 Sammy Sosa 11 1993 2004
T6 Willie Mays 11 1954 1966
T6 Jimmie Foxx 11 1929 1940
11 Rafael Palmeiro 10 1993 2003
T12 Carlos Delgado 9 1998 2008
T12 Mark McGwire 9 1987 1999
T12 Harmon Killebrew 9 1959 1970
T12 Albert Pujols 9 2001 2010

Pujols’ pace, while fast compared to his peers this season, is not particularly quick when compared to his past. Albert reached his 33rd home run faster in five of the nine years he hit that many. (He fell short with 32 in 2007.) Monday was the Cardinals’ 122nd game and Albert’s 121st played.

Cardinals game of the season in which Pujols hit his 33rd home run

2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
138 152 119 114 117 99 n/a 144 92 122

Could there be another hot streak remaining for Pujols this season? Here is a list of some of his most proficient home run-hitting stretches, including the one he is currently working.

Albert Pujols’ best home run streaks

2001 22-Apr to 1-May 10 HR in 20 games (games 18 to 37)
2003 30-Apr to 21-May 10 HR in 20 games (games 25 to 44)
2004 13-Aug to 2-Sep 11 HR in 20 games (games 114 to 133)
2006 3-Apr to 29-Apr 14 HR in 24 games (games 1 to 24)
2009 11-Jun to 30-Jun 12 HR in 19 games (games 61 to 79)
2010 31-Jul to 23-Aug 10 HR in 19 games (games 104 to 122)

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