Correa surpasses childhood hero Pujols to become youngest in history with 10 postseason homers

NEW YORK – Carlos Correa admired Albert Pujols so much when the slugger tormented the Astros regularly in the regular season and postseason, he even wore the St. Louis Cardinals legend’s No. 5 as a child. 

Correa hoped to wear No. 5 as a professional until he realized it was retired by the Astros franchise that made him the first Puerto Rican ever picked first overall in the draft in 2012.

Pujols built his legend early in his career in the postseason, delivering iconic home runs to help the Cardinals. Correa, who was the American League Rookie of the Year 14 years after Pujols was the NL’s Rookie of the Year, is leaving his own mark on the postseason record book as well.

Correa helped the Astros pull away from the Yankees with a three-run home run in the sixth inning on Thursday night to silence the sellout crowd at Yankee Stadium. After winning Game 4 of the American League Championship Series to get within a victory of the World Series, Correa also got a history lesson.

Correa was pleasantly surprised when he learned that he had become the youngest player in Major League Baseball history to hit his 10th career postseason home run.

“I grew up a huge fan of Albert Pujols,” Correa said. “I even wore No. 5 all the way growing up. Obviously I  couldn’t wear it with the Astros. Because (of) the legend Jeff Bagwell, the Hall of Famer, the number is retired. I’m a big fan of Pujols, and to see what he did at a younger age, it really means a lot, very humbling.”

Correa collected his 10th career postseason home run at 25 years and 25 days old. Pujols was less than three months away from his 26th birthday when he drilled his 10th career postseason home run.

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Moreover, Derek Jeter, who is likely to be elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020, is the only shortstop in major league history with more home runs than Correa. 

Correa has hit a pair of home runs this postseason, both in the ALCS. His first was a walk-off shot to right field in the 11th inning at Minute Maid Park on Sunday night to win Game 2. The second was in Game 4 to pull away.

The Astros fell behind 1-0 in the first inning, but George Springer hit a three-run home run to left field in the third inning to take the lead for good. Three innings later, Correa added his blast to mark only the second time in franchise history that teammates had a pair of three-run homers in the same postseason game.

“We try to pass the baton,” said Springer, who moved ahead of Jose Altuve for the most career postseason home runs in franchise history with his 13th. “It’s an offense where … it’s not about individual anything. It’s about what’s best for the team. And it’s do anything that you possibly can to get the baton on to the next guy. 

“I don’t think there’s anybody in our lineup who cares what position they’re hitting in. Just because you’re hitting fifth or eighth or ninth or first, that doesn’t really mean much. It’s an awesome thing to be a part of just guys wanting to pass the baton on to the next one.”

Springer and Correa have homered in the same postseason game six times, which is more than any pair of teammates in MLB history.

Correa was limited to only 280 at-bats over 75 games, less than half the 162-game schedule, because of back problems this season.

He finished with only 21 home runs, but he arrived ar Minute Maid Park on Sunday feeling confident enough to predict that he would be the hero. He definitely was that night with his walk-off blast.

The Astros didn’t need Correa to be the hero on Thursday before a sellout crowd of 49,067 at subdued Yankee Stadium.

Now Correa and the 2017 World Series champions are a win away from returning to the Fall Classic for the second time in three years.

The biggest stage of them all awaits if the Astros can close out the AL East champion Yankees. There are more opportunities to chase new home run marks now that he has surpassed Pujols as the youngest player to hit 10 career postseason homers.

“It means a lot,” Correa said. “They actually told me in the clubhouse and she showed me a list, and it feels great to be the youngest player to do so. It’s a lot.

“It’s been a tough year for me. I went through a lot. And then to come here in the postseason and be able to contribute to my team, it means everything.”

Featured Image: Astros Twitter