Pujols almost retired amid June slump
Albert Pujols' magical finish to his storied career almost never happened.
Mired in a serious slump that saw him go without a home run in the month of June, the St. Louis Cardinals slugger considered walking away from the team rather than completing his final season.
"No, I did, I swear I did," Pujols told John Denton of MLB.com on Thursday when asked if he'd considered early retirement. "There were some times when I (asked) myself that, many times."
The 42-year-old ultimately decided to continue, and the Cardinals were the benefactors. The turning point, he said, came in early July when he "figured something out" with his swing. He also credited the team for supporting him through his drought before he took off in the second half of the campaign.
"When you have good people around you and they are encouraging you and you realize that God has opened so many doors for you, man, it puts things back into perspective," Pujols said. "I decided, 'I'm going to stick with it.' I knew sooner or later it was going to come and turn around for me because it can't be like it was all year long."
Pujols' 2022 season
Once he made the necessary adjustments, Pujols became one of the best stories of the second half. After participating in the Home Run Derby - and shockingly winning a round - he turned back the clock with a remarkable stretch run that saw him hit 18 homers in 56 games. He finished his season with a .270/.345/.550 slash line, marking his best individual season in a decade.
Pujols rejoined the Cardinals in spring training following nearly a decade with the Los Angeles Angels, saying at the time that this season would be his last. Injuries and declining production had marred his Angels tenure and eventually led L.A. to release him last year.
A two-time World Series champion, Pujols owns a career slash line of .296/.374/.544 over 3,080 MLB games. When the Cardinals' playoff run ends, he'll retire ranking 10th all time in hits (3,384) and games played (3,080), fifth in doubles (686), fourth in home runs (703), and second in total bases (6,211) and RBIs (2,218).