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Which one is the bigger deal: 700 or the Triple Crown? A Saturday Morning Open Thread

An open thread to talk about whatever you want! Might I suggest Pujols’ quest for 700 vs. Goldschmidt’s pursuit of the Triple Crown?

MLB: SEP 04 Cubs at Cardinals

Another Saturday, another open thread! Yes, that means I am too busy to give you a real article. But I don’t want to leave you contentless.

So, here’s what I am thinking about and it might spark some interesting conversation while you wait for baseball to start.

Here’s today’s suggested topic of conversation: Which one is the bigger deal: Albert Pujols reaching 700 home runs or Paul Goldschmidt winning the Triple Crown?

Let’s start with the obvious. Both of these are extremely rare and amazing feats.

Only three players in baseball history have over 700 homers. Only two of them did it without cheating. Barry Bonds has the record at 762. He also has the taint of the steroid scandal. Factor that in however you will.

Hank Aaron is next with 755, the number that I will always recognize. Babe Ruth follows at 714, a number that should never be forgotten.

Pujols sits at 695 as of Friday afternoon, one behind Alex Rodriguez, who also has steroid issues to consider.

There is no doubt that Pujols getting to 700 as a Cardinal is huge. HUGE.

But it is a career accomplishment. If Pujols finished the season at 698 homers instead of 700, I don’t see how that would affect in the slightest his legacy, position in history, status among Cardinals legends, or Hall of Fame credentials. All of that is cemented.

This is about one more chance to celebrate one of the greatest who has ever played and watch him doing truly sensational.

As I said, HUGE.

But what would a Triple Crown mean for Paul Goldschmidt?

A lot more players have won the Triple Crown than have reached 700 homers. You can find the complete list here. Baseball Reference even includes Negro Leagues, as they should.

Future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera is the most recent player to accomplish the feat. That came back in 2012.

It was a more common occurrence a half-century ago. Hall of Famers Carl Yastrzemski, Frank Robinson, Mickey Mantle, and Ted Williams (twice) all won it in the AL in the 1940s-60s.

Former Cardinal and Hall of Famer Joe Medwick was the last NL winner with a .374 average, 31 HR, and 154 RBI.

Does anyone notice anything about each of those winners? They are all Hall of Famers. Plus one sure-to-be Hall of Famer.

Paul Goldschmidt has an increasingly strong case to make the Hall. (Look for that article after the season.) As a first baseman, though, he has to reach pretty steep career milestones.

I think almost all of that becomes moot if he wins the Triple Crown. He would go from someone that analytically-oriented writers will have to stump for to get him in to someone who is a virtual lock even among old-school baseball era voters. Assuming, of course, that he continues on at a relatively productive level for several more seasons.

[Just a note about Goldy’s HOF candidacy. He has 54.0 career fWAR right now. He has 7.1 fWAR this season, which is added in and he will add to that with a month to play. Let’s say he plays another 4 seasons stepping down in fWAR by 1.0 every year, starting at a very conservative 4.0 fWAR. That adds a total of 4.0, 3.0, 2.0, 1.0 fWAR to his career fWAR, taking him to 64 fWAR. That puts him ahead of Hall of Famer 1b’man like Ernie Banks, Willie Stargell, and Hank Greenberg. If he beats that total by 5 fWAR (69), which is certainly within the realm of possibility considering his current performance, that would put him ahead of Miguel Cabrera, Johnny Mize, Millie McCovey, and Harmon Killebrew.]

So, Albert getting to 700 is probably the bigger deal in terms of baseball history because it’s such a select list. But it has little impact on his legacy as one of the greatest ever.

Goldschmidt winning the Triple Crown would be a nice historical note. But it would absolutely define his legacy as a future Hall of Famer.

So, I ask again: which one is the bigger deal?

I suspect for most Cardinals fans it is Pujols. Not going to argue that. That’s the show. And us fans are here for the show. In terms of the actual impact of the accomplishment, though, I think it’s Goldschmidt. Here’s hoping that Kyle Schwarber gets cold for a few weeks.

Debate away. This is, after all, an open thread. Make of it what you will. Happy Saturday, VEB!