Pujols has a 500-homer lead on Kuiper
While Angels slugger clubbed No. 501 on Friday, former infielder had just one
It was a week of opposites.
On Tuesday night in Washington, D.C., Albert Pujols of the Angels became the 26th player in Major League history to reach the 500-homer plateau. He connected off Nationals right-hander Taylor Jordan in the first inning for a three-run home run (No. 499) to give the Angels a 3-0 lead in what became a 7-2 victory, then went deep off Jordan in the fifth inning for No. 500.
And on Friday night, when Pujols hit No. 501 at the new Yankee Stadium off Hiroki Kuroda, the Giants were staging Duane Kuiper Bobblehead Night in San Francisco, honoring the current Giants broadcaster who holds the Major League record for most plate appearances (3,754) with only one home run.
Kuiper's lone home run came on Aug. 29, 1977, at Cleveland Stadium off White Sox right-hander Steve Stone. Fittingly, the Giants' opponent on Friday night was Cleveland, the team that originally signed Kuiper and the team he was playing for when he connected off Stone, who gave up 184 career home runs to a total of 130 players.
While Pujols ranks 26th on the all-time homer list, and went into Saturday three home runs behind Hall of Famer Eddie Murray, Kuiper is one of 1,288 players tied for 6,031st on Major League Baseball's all-time home run list, according to Stats Inc.
Obviously not known for his power, Kuiper did spend parts of 12 years in the big leagues, hitting .271, and twice leading American League second basemen in fielding percentage.
His distinction, however, is that none of the other 1,288 who hit one big league home run had more opportunities to hit No. 2 than Kuiper. Emil Verban, who played from 1944-50, is second on the list with 3,109 plate appearances, followed by Johnny Bassler ('13-27) with 2,864, Floyd Baker ('43-55) with 2,692 plate appearances and Joe Gedeon ('13-20) with 2,446.
The all-time leader in plate appearances without a big league home run is Tom Oliver, who had 2,073 from 1930-33.
Ben Revere, however, is looming on the horizon. The Phillies center fielder Ben Revere entered play Saturday with 1,487 plate appearances without a home run.
Pujols, 34, is the third-youngest player to reach 500 homers. Alex Rodriguez (the youngest) and Jimmie Foxx were both 32 when they hit No. 500. Ted Williams was the oldest hitter to join the club when he connected at the age of 41 years, 291 days on June 17, 1960.
Pujols is part of a recent trend of power hitters. Eleven of the 26 members of the 500 homer club have hit No. 500 in the past 15 years.
In addition to Pujols this year, Gary Sheffield hit No. 500 in 2009, Manny Ramirez in '08, Frank Thomas, Jim Thome and Rodriguez in '07, Ken Griffey Jr. in '04, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa in '03, Barry Bonds in 2001 and Mark McGwire in 1999.
Pujols hit 445 of his home runs in his 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. He has hit 273 home runs on the road and 228 at home. He hit 204 at home with the Cardinals -- 94 at the previous Busch Stadium and 110 at the current Busch Stadium.
Pujols has hit 56 against the Chicago Cubs, and his most against any pitcher was Ryan Dempster, who gave up eight. He has hit two home runs in a game 43 times, and three homers in a game four times. His 12 grand slams have him tied with 13 other players for 27th on the all-time list, 12 behind all-time leader Rodriguez.
• Connie Marrero died on Wednesday in Havana at 102 years and 363 days of age, leaving just 18 surviving ex-big leaguers who were born before 1920. Former catcher-infielder Mike Sandlock, who was born on Oct. 17, 1915, is now the oldest living former big leaguer.
• Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval went into Saturday hitless in his previous 41 at-bats with two strikes. He was 0-for-11 on a 0-2 pitch, 0-for-13 at 1-2, 0-for-11 on 2-2, and 0-for-6 on 3-2. He is a career .218 hitter on two-strike pitches, and .191 when he has a three-ball count, according to baseball-reference.com.
• Ervin Santana allowed four earned runs in 6 2/3 innings of the Braves' 5-4 victory against Cincinnati on Friday, only the second time in 22 games this year a Braves starter allowed more than two runs in a game. The Braves' rotation, which lost Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy for the season during Spring Training, has a 1.68 ERA that is tops in the Majors. Santana's ERA rose to 1.95 after Friday -- 10th best in the National League, but only fourth best on the Braves, behind NL leader Aaron Harang (0.85), Alex Wood (1.54) and Julian Teheran (1.80).
• Lefty Matt Harrison is scheduled to make his first start in one year and three weeks for the Rangers on Sunday against Seattle at Safeco Field. Harrison has undergone two back surgeries since his most recent start. He was a combined 32-20 with a 3.34 ERA for the Rangers in 2011-12.
• Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon went into Saturday leading the Majors with a .398 average. He's so hot that even a day off doesn't cool him down. Blackmon has been out of the starting lineup six times this year, and he has gone 16-for-28 in his return to the lineup the next game.
According to stat maven David Feldman, Major League Baseball went into Saturday with more 1-0 games (13) than Major League Soccer (10) this season.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.