(When) Will Albert Pujols Reach 700 Home Runs?

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve been having enjoyable producing estimates of when Aaron Judge would possibly hit his sixtieth, 61st, and 62nd residence runs this season. It’s cool for a number of causes: I like residence run chases, like most baseball followers, and I additionally like developing with methods to reply seemingly troublesome questions through simulation. It’s one of many similar causes I like writing about baseball within the first place: I believe it’s totally neat that I can take into consideration baseball each very tangibly (Randy Arozarena’s baserunning) and abstractly.

Since I’ve the know-how, I’ve gotten a reasonably apparent request a couple of instances previously week: do it for Pujols. His unbelievable quest for 700 homers has changed into an unlikely quest, and now a “wait may he?” quest. At 697 dingers, he is inside hailing distance of a momentous quantity to retire on. I’m going to make use of the identical instruments that helped me mannequin when Judge would possibly hit some large homers to do the identical for Pujols.

The naked bones of this method would be the similar. I began with the Cardinals’ remaining schedule and the park elements for right-handed hitters in these stadiums. Almost instantly, although, I took a detour, as a result of the Cardinals do not use Pujols just like the Yankees use Judge. At this stage in his profession, Pujols is at his greatest in opposition to left-handed pitching. He additionally wants extra off days than Judge, eminently cheap given his age. That creates a taking part in time puzzle, so to determine which video games Pujols will play in, I used Roster Resource to work out which days I count on opposing groups to start out lefty pitchers. On these days, I venture Pujols to start out and get three plate appearances (in opposition to lefties) 30% of the time, 4 (three in opposition to lefties) 55% of the time, and 5 (three in opposition to lefties) 15% of the time. This is certainly not good, however as a tough approximation, it’s going to do.

On days the place the Cardinals face righty starters, I bought artistic. If Pujols did not play yesterday, I assumed supervisor Oliver Marmol would at all times play him. That’s fairly near how he is been used this September; out of 5 days the place Pujols sat out or pinch-hit yesterday and the Cardinals confronted a right-handed pitcher, he has began 4 of them. If he did play yesterday, I gave him a one-in-five probability of taking part in in opposition to a righty (once more mimicking actuality). In these video games, I gave him three plate appearances in opposition to a righty and one in opposition to a lefty. Otherwise, I projected him for one pinch-hit plate look in opposition to a lefty.

I made one different government determination: the Cardinals have a doubleheader on September 17, and the Reds will very seemingly begin a lefty in one of many two video games. I assumed Pujols would sit the opposite recreation totally to remain recent. Aside from that, the remaining Cardinals schedule ought to present him with as a lot relaxation as he is loved over the past month of standard taking part in time.

There’s one final complication: the Cardinals play the final six video games of the yr in opposition to the Pirates, first three in St. Louis after which three in Pittsburgh. I believe Marmol will prioritize Pujols hitting his 700th homer in entrance of a house crowd, and the division race is prone to be settled by then, so I simulated full video games for the primary three, with two of the video games in Pittsburgh additionally being full video games . I count on that if Pujols is one homer brief within the final sequence of the season, the staff will do the whole lot it may to get him over the road.

Next, I labored out anticipated residence run charges in opposition to lefty and righty starters. We’re into the realm of guesswork right here, however I merely used his residence run price in opposition to the suitable kind of pitcher over the previous two years. Is that flattering to Pujols, who most likely is not a true-talent 140 wRC+ hitter (his line this yr) on condition that he put up an mixture 84 wRC+ over the earlier 5 years in seven instances the pattern measurement? Oh yeah, most undoubtedly. But I can imagine that he is seeing the end line now and emptying the tank fully, which most likely counts for one thing, and anyway, it is my simulation so I get to do what I need. The outcomes of that appear to be this:

Day opponent Home/Away 700th Homer Odds
9/15 Cincinnati Home 0.0%
9/16 Cincinnati Home 0.5%
9/17 Cincinnati Home 3.3%
9/17 Cincinnati Home 0% (Off Game)
9/18 Cincinnati Home 2.6%
9/20 San Diego Away 5.4%
9/21 San Diego Away 6.6%
9/22 San Diego Away 3.9%
9/23 Los Angeles Away 10.9%
9/24 Los Angeles Away 8.9%
9/25 Los Angeles Away 4.8%
9/27 Milwaukee Away 8.5%
9/28 Milwaukee Away 4.4%
9/30 Pittsburgh Home 3.9%
10/1 Pittsburgh Home 4.6%
10/2 Pittsburgh Home 4.2%
10/3 Pittsburgh Away 2.1%
10/4 Pittsburgh Away 2.7%
10/5 Pittsburgh Away 3.1%

There’s a number of guesswork concerned on this, however that comes out to an 80% probability that Pujols will hit his 700th, with a three-game set in opposition to the Dodgers and their predominantly lefty rotation the sequence the place it is more than likely. Unfortunately for Cardinals followers primarily based in St. Louis, the earlier sequence in opposition to the Padres has the second-best probability; San Diego is lining as much as throw two lefties within the three video games, which definitely helps.

That 80% determine sounds excessive to me, so I ran one other model with totally different residence run charges, midway between what we have noticed over the past two years and what he is projected for the stability of the season. That required a little bit of platoon-rate finesse, so there’s some guesswork to this, however hey: this complete article is about guesswork. If these charges are nearer to the reality, Pujols has a two-in-three probability of reaching 700:

Albert Pujols 700th Home Run Odds Take Two

Day opponent Home/Away 700th Homer Odds
9/15 Cincinnati Home 0.0%
9/16 Cincinnati Home 0.3%
9/17 Cincinnati Home 1.9%
9/17 Cincinnati Home 0% (Off Game)
9/18 Cincinnati Home 1.7%
9/20 San Diego Away 3.3%
9/21 San Diego Away 4.2%
9/22 San Diego Away 2.8%
9/23 Los Angeles Away 7.8%
9/24 Los Angeles Away 6.8%
9/25 Los Angeles Away 4.0%
9/27 Milwaukee Away 7.8%
9/28 Milwaukee Away 4.1%
9/30 Pittsburgh Home 4.0%
10/1 Pittsburgh Home 4.9%
10/2 Pittsburgh Home 4.6%
10/3 Pittsburgh Away 2.3%
10/4 Pittsburgh Away 3.1%
10/5 Pittsburgh Away 3.8%

The Dodgers sequence nonetheless seems like the very best probability in historical past. The final residence sequence of the season, in opposition to the Pirates, seems fairly good too, and you may nearly assure that he’ll play in all three of these video games for a grand sendoff, so even when you aren’t getting to see a milestone homer, you may get to see loads of Pujols plate appearances.

If this seems like a too-cold distillation of a legend’s final experience into a couple of tables of numbers, I sympathize. If you’d choose to dwell in suspense, I do not blame you. But I believe it is enjoyable to parse numbers like this, and Pujols’ chase for 700 is a superb excuse to interrupt them out. If you are in Los Angeles subsequent week and wish to see historical past, you have bought a good shot.

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