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Pujols Powers Toward 500th Homer

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 29: Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim looks on against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on May 29, 2013 in Anaheim, California.

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DETROIT (AP) - Albert Pujols is closing in on his 500th homer and joining a prestigious club. More important for the Los Angeles Angels, he’s looking like his powerful self again.

The 34-year-old Pujols is hitting .280 with six home runs through 75 at-bats this year, an encouraging start following an injury-plagued 2013. The Angels enter a series at Washington with Pujols at 498 career homers.

“There’s no doubt, just speaking of the last couple years we’ve had him here, that this is the best foundation he’s had, this is the healthiest he’s been,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “I think you’re starting to see some of the swings he can put on baseballs on a consistent basis. It’s been fun to watch.”

With Pujols poised to reach 500 homers, it’s worth a look at who the next few candidates to approach that milestone might be. Adam Dunn is also 34 and has 443 home runs. He went deep 34 times last year, so a couple more seasons like that would put him over the top.

“I’ve never been numbers-oriented in my life, and not starting now,” Dunn said. “If it comes, it comes. That would be awesome.”

Miguel Cabrera just turned 31, and he has 366 homers. He should certainly have a good shot at 500 if he remains healthy and productive. Cabrera and Pujols both started putting up big numbers at a young age — and that’s crucial in the chase for a milestone like this.

There are 25 players currently in the 500-homer club, and they averaged 141 homers before turning 26, according to STATS. With that as a baseline, Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton is in impressive shape already. He doesn’t turn 25 until after this season, and he already has 123 home runs.

Prince Fielder had 163 homers before turning 26. He’s up to 287 now — with his 30th birthday coming up next month — but Fielder is hitting .188 for Texas and needs to hope his power stroke isn’t in serious decline.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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