He said: “My mind is not even there. My mind is focused, healthy and living with hope to help this ball club win this year, and that’s it. If I think that at the end of the year, I will announce it.
Whenever Pujols and Cabrera – who turn 38 in April – will choose to retire, the drop-off may be overwhelming in some categories of active leaders. They are not only far ahead of their contemporaries in many figures, but their closest players are also nearing their own end.
The Pujols enter this season with 3,236 hits and Cabrera is a good shot at his target of 3,000, with 2,866. The only other hitters with 2,000 or more are Robinson Cano (2,624), which is Suspended for the entire 2021 season; Nick Marquis (2,388), who is 36 and considering being out of 2020; And Yadir Molina (2,001), a 36-year-old catcher didn’t look long for the game. This leaves the possibility of the entry of an active hit leader in 2022, being an unlikely player like Ryan Braun of Milwaukee Brewers (1,963) or Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds (1,908).
Among the 30 or younger players, Washington Nationals’ Starlin Castro (1,633) and Houston Astro’s Jose Altuve (1,610) are active leaders, but a runner out of 3,000 seems remote. Mike Trout long ago overtook Puzols and Cabrera as the game’s best hitters, but thanks to the high number of walks and overall changes in the way the game was played, the 29-year-old Trout didn’t even hit 150 in a season Since 2016, with 1,380 career hits, Trout has been scoring 3,000 runs – for now – a long shot.
Active leaders of other categories are just as extreme as drop-offs.
In the home run, Puzols (662) and Cabrera (487) comfortably lead Edwin Encarnacion (424), Nelson Cruz (417) and Braun (352). The top player that can reasonably be described is still Giancarlo Stanton of the Yanks, whose 312 career homer put him less than half the distance to Pujol at the age of 31.