Star Spotlight: Albert Pujols
Albert Pujols’ Hall of Fame-worthy career may not have ended in fairy-tale fashion, but the 42-year-old slugger did get to enjoy a dream final season.
While his return to the Cardinals in 2022 ended with St. Louis losing the NL Wild Card series to the Phillies, Pujols had a remarkable resurgence in the last half of the season to cap his brilliant 22-year career — highlighted by his becoming only the fourth member of the 700 home run club.
The Dominican-born superstar known as “The Machine” cemented his legacy as one of the greatest hitters ever when he bashed Nos. 699 and 700 in consecutive at-bats on September 23 in an 11–0 win against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
He hit No. 703 — his final career homer — on Oct. 3, which moved him past Yankees legend Babe Ruth for second place on the all-time RBI list.
Pujols, playing mostly as a DH, finished with 24 HR and 68 RBI and was one of baseball’s hottest hitters in the second half, helping the Cards secure the NL Central.
Here’s a spotlight on Pujol’s illustrious career, during which he finished near the top of several of the major offensive categories:
— With 703 dingers, Pujols joins Barry Bonds (756), Hank Aaron (75 ) and Babe Ruth (714) as the only players to hit 700 home runs or more.
— Pujols is second all-time in RBI, with 2,218. He’s ahead of Ruth (2,214) and behind Aaron (2,297).
— Pujols ended up 10th on the all-time hit list, with 3,384.
— Pujols is only the second player in the 3,000 hit and 700 home run club, along with Aaron.
— He’s also second in career total bases with 6,211 to Aaron’s 6,856.
— Pujols is third in extra base hits with 1,405, behind Aaron and Bonds, and is fifth all-time in doublers, with 686.
— The Santo Domingo native, who became a superstar with the Cardinals for the first 11 years of his career before spending the next decade with the L.A. Angels (plus a short stint with the Dodgers), boasts plenty of hardware. He’s a three-time league MVP (2005, 2008, 2009), has won four Silver Slugger Awards, won an NL batting, led the league in homers twice, RBI once and runs scored five times.
— In his prime, he was an excellent defender. Pujols won the Gold Glove Award in 2006 and 2010 as a first baseman.
— Pujols also excelled in the postseason, making the playoffs in 10 different seasons. He has a .319 batting average with 97 hits, 19 home runs, 54 RBIs and 57 runs scored in 88 games. The final two at-bats of his career, in fact, were singles in the Wild Card elimination game against the Phils.