ANAHEIM -- Angels first baseman Albert Pujols reached a major milestone on Saturday, as he passed Hall of Famer Babe Ruth for career RBIs with 1,993, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Pujols tied Ruth’s total with an RBI double to left field off lefty Yusei Kikuchi that scored Andrelton Simmons from first base in the third inning. The Angels paid tribute to Pujols by recognizing the feat on the scoreboard, and Pujols tipped his cap to the fans in response. Pujols passed Ruth with a solo homer with one out in the ninth against Seattle reliever Anthony Swarzak.
"It's pretty special," Pujols said. "You're talking about, if not the best, one of the best hitters that ever played this game. At the end of the night, for me, it's going out and trying to do whatever it takes to help this ballclub win. You can't accomplish things in this game by yourself. There's a lot of pieces and a lot of people that helped me along the way, including my teammates, and coaches and family, everything. It's pretty special. I think it would've been a little sweeter if we could've come out with the win, but unfortunately, that didn't happen."
Ruth’s RBI total is complicated, however, as RBIs didn’t officially become a statistic until 1920, so Elias doesn’t count Ruth’s RBIs from 1914-1919. However, if you do go back and count RBIs from before 1920 -- which is what you will see on the leaderboard at sites such as Baseball Reference -- Ruth would have 2,213 RBIs, which would rank second all-time.
According to Elias, the official statistician of Major League Baseball, the all-time leader in RBIs is Hank Aaron with 2,297, and he's followed by Alex Rodriguez (2,086), which means that Pujols is on the verge of officially becoming just the third player in the 2,000 RBI club. He currently trails Barry Bonds (1,996) and Lou Gehrig (1,994) on the Elias leaderboard, though it should be noted that some sites list Gehrig's career totals at 1,995. (Elias’ official RBI total for Gehrig has changed several times, even within the four years since Rodriguez passed him on the all-time list. Due to the uncertain nature of record keeping in the early part of the 20th century, some discrepancies exist between the stats provided today by different historical data providers.)
"Everyone knew it was coming so we were all very happy for him," Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. "Of course, we wish we would’ve won the game on top, that would’ve made it more fun. But he’s going to continue to set milestones as he’s playing. Everyone, of course, congratulated him."