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Also in a train role, Albert Pujols managed to give St. Louis one last thrill in its farewell season.
Pujols has more than proved that his racquet still has some power; The 42-year-old has also become an important part of the Cardinals’ offense as a left-handed designated hitter. He added to his legacy on Sunday by hitting two homers to lead St. Louis to an important win over division rivals Milwaukee Brewers.
But late success hasn’t changed Pujols’ mind about his future. Even though the Cardinals want him back in the same role next year, he’s determined to retire.
“Where I’m going to be in 2023 is here … watching some of these guys play from the stands,” Pujols said when asked about postponing his retirement, according to MLB.com’s John Denton. “I really don’t think about it (coming back). That’s it for me … I’m going to take a little break.”
Expectations were low when Pujols returned to the Cardinals this spring after a 10-year stint in Southern California. Although he had some hits against southpaws last year, his overall performance had steadily declined due to injuries in the back half of his mega deal with the Los Angeles Angels.
But the return to St. Louis has seemingly rejuvenated the future Hall of Famer. Thanks to situational use, Pujols’ .325 OBP and .785 OPS are his best individual results since 2016. He was red hot in the second half of the campaign, sporting a .389/.436/.806 slash-line star break since space.
Pujol’s 2022 splits
The milestones are also piling up for Pujols. Sunday’s performance was the 65th multi-homer game of his career and put him in fifth all-time with Willie Mays. He also overtook Stan Musial for third place in extra-base hits earlier in the year.
Pujols’ recent surge means another big achievement — 700 home runs — is still in play. He’s 11 homers from the mark so it’s not a guarantee, and Pujols is fine with him walking away even if he comes up short.
“It’s in the back of my mind … because I don’t think about it,” Pujols said. “If it happens, it happens. But I am blessed with the career that I have, and if God has that in store for my career, I will be even more blessed. If it doesn’t happen, I think everyone would agree that I’ve had an amazing career and run.