With Phat Albert (a nickname only a motherless child could love) hitting the 500 HR level this evening, we need to take a quick (and possibly dirty...) look at just where he might wind up when his career winds down.
Now we're not here to use Bill James' favorite toy (and, yes, we're leaving out the capital letters that Bill has favored when developing the more informal tools in his icebox...better that you were the e.e. cummings of sabermetrics, Bill, than one of those fellows who SHOUTS due to "caps lock-jaw"). We don't want no stinking probabilities.
Better to concoct a number via a collective group-grab, by looking at all of the top homer hitters through age 29 and calculating several "percentage relationships" to get a sense of what these sluggers do in their 30s.
The key "percentage relationship" (watch out now, this may soon become an oh-so-salient term in online dating...) is deceptively simple: it's the number of HRs hit from age 30 as a percentage of total HRs hit.
Just off the top of your heads, kiddies: tell us whom you think hit the most percentage of his HRs from age 30 on? And the least?
Does the highly prolific (read: 500+) HR hitter hit a higher percentage of his HRs from age 30+ than the merely average prolific HR hitter (those who occupy slots 27-100 on the all-time HR list)?
Let's answer the last question first. It looks like the more HRs you hit, the more of them you're likely to hit from age 30 on. The top 25 HR hitters (Albert is #26 at the moment, but we're leaving him out of this for purposes of the calculation...) have hit just a tad more than half their lifetime HRs once they turn 30. (The exact percentage is 50.2%). The hitters in that next echelon (335 to 493 HRs) hit a much smaller percentage of their lifetime HR total from age 30 on. (That exact percentage is 40.9%.)
The hitter with the highest percentage of HRs hit from age 30 on? It's our old friend, the Hall of Fame pariah Rafael Palmeiro, with 73%. Raffy hit 414 of his 569 lifetime HR total from the age of 30 on.
That total is good for third place on the all-time 30+ HR chart. Who's first? Why, Barry Bonds, of course (503). Babe Ruth is a distant second with 430 HRs from age 30 on. Bonds hit 66% of his HRs after turning 30.
Of the 500+ HR hitters, who hit the lowest percentage of his bombs beginning at age 30? It's Eddie Mathews, with only 28%. Jimmie Foxx (29%) and Mickey Mantle (30%).
The aggregate is 44% of the HRs hit by the top 100 HR hitters were hit from age 30 on. So we can say that the relationship is 88% of the HR totals hit through age 29 will he hit in the thirties. The player closest to that model is Frank Robinson, who hit 262 HRs (45%) from age 30 on.
Albert Pujols hit 366 HRs through age 29. Using 88% of that total as the projection, we come up with a total of 324 more HRs over the balance of his career, which would bring his lifetime total to 690. Given his slowdown from ages 30-33, however, we don't expect that he'll come close to that figure: it's more likely to be in the mid 600s.
We'll put the whole list out there for you a bit later in the season.