Credit Albert Pujols for impeccable timing. On May 29, the Angels and the rest of the baseball world learned that Mike Trout would miss six to eight weeks with a thumb injury, derailing a season in which he was on pace for the best numbers of his astoundingly dominant career. Five days later, Pujols delivered a reason to celebrate again, launching a moonscraper of a home run against Minnesota in Anaheim that landed just inside the leftfield foul pole. It was the 600th homer of Pujols’s career, making him just the ninth player ever to reach that milestone—and the first to get there via grand slam.
Any player to join such an exclusive club earns a hearty tip of the cap. But Pujols was no blue-chipper when he started his professional baseball career—401 players heard their names called during the 1999 draft before Pujols heard his. The story of every team passing on him multiple times, and the one scout who believed in the man who would become The Machine, offers a valuable lesson in the power of expectations.