Pujols still plans to retire despite recent surge, not chasing 700 HRs
Even in a platoon role, Albert Pujols has succeeded in giving St. Louis one last thrill during his farewell season.
Pujols has done more than prove there's still some power left in his bat; the 42-year-old has also become an important part of the Cardinals' offense as a lefty-mashing designated hitter. He added to his legacy on Sunday, hitting a pair of home runs to lead St. Louis to a key win over the division-rival Milwaukee Brewers.
But the late success hasn't changed Pujols' mind regarding his future. Even if the Cardinals want him back in the same role next year, he's firmly set on retiring.
"Where I'll be in 2023 is here ... watching some of these guys play from the stands," Pujols said when asked about postponing his retirement, according to John Denton of MLB.com. "I really don't think about (coming back). This is it for me. ... I'm going to take a little break."
Expectations were low when Pujols rejoined the Cardinals this spring after a 10-year detour to Southern California. Though he had some success against southpaws last year, his overall production had been steadily declining amid injuries over the back half of his megadeal with the Los Angeles Angels.
But returning to St. Louis has seemingly rejuvenated the future Hall of Famer. Thanks to situational deployment, Pujols' .325 OBP and .785 OPS are his best individual totals since 2016. He's been red-hot in the second half of the campaign, sporting a .389/.436/.806 slash line since the All-Star break.
Pujols' 2022 splits
The milestones have also been piling up for Pujols. Sunday's performance was the 65th multi-homer game of his career, moving him into a tie with Willie Mays for fifth all time. He also passed Stan Musial for third in extra-base hits earlier this year.
Pujols' recent surge means one more major accomplishment - 700 home runs - remains in play down the stretch. He's 11 homers shy of the mark, so it's no guarantee, and Pujols is at peace with walking away even if he comes up short.
"It is in the back of my mind … because I don't think about it," Pujols said. "If it happens, it happens. But I'm blessed with the career that I have, and if God has that in store for my career, I'll just be even more blessed. If it doesn't happen, I think anybody would agree that I've had an amazing career and an amazing run."