Albert Pujols has 656 home runs and should pass Willie Mays (660) for fifth place on the all-time list. His quest to jump higher on the list is being hampered by the coronavirus shutdown of Major League Baseball. Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

If your legs are feeling stiff during this prolonged period of inactivity, just imagine how the legs of Albert Pujols or Justin Verlander must be feeling.

In reality, the active leaders in so many hitting and pitching stats – the 40-year-old Pujols and 36-year-old Verlander – must be keeping in shape as they await the restart of a Major League Baseball season that could begin as soon as July 1 (coronavirus-dependent, of course).

We can’t help but wonder what this prolonged layoff is doing to their bodies, which have endured 12,231 plate appearances and 2,982 innings pitched between the two of them.

We can more clearly picture what the layoff is doing to their places in MLB history.

For the first time in a long time, the record books are getting dusty. Numbers are frozen in time, stuck to the pages without a single change since last fall. A layoff this long will put a dent in the stats of so many of today’s baseball greats.

Pujols is among the most interesting.

Expected to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when he finally hangs ’em up, Pujols is sitting on 656 home runs, four shy of The Say Hey Kid, Willie Mays, for fifth all-time.

Unfortunately for Pujols, the coronavirus shutdown will likely impede Pujols from ever catching Alex Rodriguez (696) or Babe Ruth’s (714) home run totals, which otherwise were (somewhat) within reach.

Crazy? Maybe, considering Pujols is 40, his batting average has been slipping, and so is the way he makes contact. His average exit velocity went from 65th in MLB in 2018 to 168th in 2019.

And yet he keeps on cranking long balls. He’s got 65 homers over the past three years. With baseballs flying out of the park at an unprecedented rate, Pujols had a chance. If he hit 20 homers a year in 2020 and 2021, Pujols would’ve tied A-Rod’s mark just as his contract with the Angels expired.

Losing half a season (or more) in 2020 should kill that chance.

It’s worth nothing that Pujols’ contract with the Angels, 10 years for $240 million, will undoubtedly be considered one of the worst in baseball history. He’s been an All-Star just once in eight seasons on Gene Autry Way, hitting .258 with a .764 OPS after hitting .328 with a 1.037 OPS over 11 years in St. Louis.

And yet he’s passing big names in history books while wearing the Halos’ cap.

A quick rundown …

•Pujols’ 2,075 RBI are tied with Cap Anson for fourth-most all-time. A-Rod’s 2,086 RBI and Ruth’s 2,214 RBI might’ve been within reach; Hank Aaron’s all-time best 2,297 mark won’t be broken anytime soon.

• His 2,823 games played are 22nd all-time. With 80 games this year, he could get to 2,900, which would pass Brooks Robinson’ 2,896 games played for 15th all-time.

• His 3,202 hits put him within 100 hits of Mays, who is 12th with 3,283 hits.

• His 10,687 at-bats are 16th, and he’s within reach of ninth-place Robin Yount (11,008).

• His 5,863 total bases are sixth, and he can catch Barry Bonds, who has 5,976.

• His 1,828 runs are 17th.

• His 661 doubles are seventh.

Justin Verlander seems to be defying age, getting better as he gets older. However, the 36-year-old is missing an opportunity to move up the all-time strikeout list, and his chase for 300 wins is also being hurt by the shutdown. Mike Erhmann/Associated Press

Verlander is a slightly different story, given the 36-year-old right-hander has found a way to get better instead of worse as his career has gone on.

It must make the loss of time this season that much more painful for one of the game’s great pitchers, who just set a career-high with 300 strikeouts and won the Cy Young Award in 2019.

He’s currently 18th in strikeouts with 3,006. If he pitches six more seasons through age 42 and averages 250 strikeouts a season, his 4,506 strikeouts would be approaching Roger Clemens (4,672) for third all-time. Randy Johnson (4,875) and the great Nolan Ryan (5,714) might be out of reach.

Verlander could join the 300-win club at some point, health depending. If he averages 15 wins a year over the next six years, he’d finish with 315, 16th all-time.

A rapid fire round of notable numbers and stories that are being impacted by the delay this year …

1. Active WAR leaders: Pujols, 40 years old, 100.8 WAR; Mike Trout, 27, 72.8; Verlander, 36, 71.6; Zack Greinke, 35, 71; Miguel Cabrera, 36, 69.5.

2. Active hits leaders: Pujols, 3,202; Cabrera, 2,815; Robinson Cano, 2,570; Nick Markakis, 2,355; Yadier Molina, 1,963; Melky Cabrera, 1,962 (currently a free agent); Adam Jones, 1,939 (currently signed to play in Japan); Ryan Braun, 1,933.

3. Miguel Cabrera, like Pujols, is an aging slugger missing out on some final opportunities to chase down history. He needs 185 more hits for 3,000 and might’ve gotten it this year. He’s just 23 home runs away from 500. And his 2,400 games played rank 89th all-time, one game behind Mickey Mantle.

4. Thinking back on Cabrera’s ridiculous $244 million contract extension that’ll pay him at least $30 million a year through 2023, when he’s 40 years old, is it any coincidence that the Tigers’ general manager who signed that deal was Dave Dombrowski, who was let go from the organization one year later?

5. Cabrera had this to say to USA Today when talking about contracts last spring: “I think Trout and Mookie (Betts) will stay where they are, and they’ll get that money, too. If you’re comfortable in one place, you don’t want to change. I was comfortable, and I stayed because they offered me such a good deal. How are you going to say, ‘No.’ It’s the same with those guys. I know Dombrowski. He’s not going to let Mookie go. Anaheim isn’t going to let Trout go. No chance.”

6. Markakis is building a sneaky profile for the Hall of Fame. The seventh overall pick by the Orioles in 2003, Markakis ranks third among active leaders in runs and fourth in hits. The 36-year-old is also one of just 23 active players who has ever suited up in all 162 games during a single season. He’s under contract with the Braves in 2020 and will be a free agent next year.

7. A quick Red Sox-related note: Chris Sale, 31 years old, recorded his 2,000th strikeout last season, while David Price, 33, is 19 strikeouts from 2,000.

8. Nobody steals bases anymore. There isn’t a single active player in the top-50 all-time. Rajai Davis has 415 steals for 66th all-time.

9. Ian Kinsler is stuck on 1,999 hits. He’s 37 years old and said over the offseason that he retired. But would he come back in a shortened format? Kinsler, 37, told The Athletic in December that a herniated cervical disk that ended his 2019 season in August was part of his decision. If this is truly the end, Kinsler finishes his career one hit shy of 2,000, with 257 home runs, 909 RBI and 243 stolen bases. “My pride wouldn’t let me go halfway at something that I’ve been doing at 100% for my whole baseball life,” he told The Athletic.

10. Craig Kimbrel is losing out on save chances. His 346 saves rank 13th all-time. And while he doesn’t have a great shot at catching Mariano Rivera (652) or Trevor Hoffman (601), third-place Lee Smith (478) could be within reach for the 31-year-old Kimbrel.

11. Here’s one stat that’s not even worth looking into: complete games. There isn’t a single active pitcher in the top 1,000 all-time, unless you count Bartolo Colon, who is 46 years old and hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2018.

12. According to MLB.com, Colon wants to play again. He ranks 997th with 38 complete games, more than any other active pitcher. Colon is also the “active” leader in wins, with 247, 50th all-time.


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