Pujols will now be eyeing joining the famed 700 home run club, but he has just 21 games left to reach the milestone after announcing it would be the final season of his illustrious career.
The two-time World Series champion is adamant that failing to reach the 700 milestone will not affect his decision to end his 22-year career at the end of the season.
In July, he told USA Today, “I’m still going to retire, whether I end up hitting 693, 696, 700 or whatever, I don’t get bogged down in numbers. If you would tell me 22 years ago when I was this close I would have told you that you were crazy. My career has been incredible.”
Just a few months ago, reaching the 700 mark seemed unlikely; Pujols got off to a slow start to the regular season after rejoining the team he started his Major League Baseball career with.
The first baseman only hit two home runs in April and May and didn’t hit a single home run in June. But he’s since upped the pace, hitting 12 homers since the All-Star break in July.
Pujols’ resurgence has seen the three-time National League MVP enjoy one of his best seasons in recent years. The 42-year-old hits .266/.338/.528 with 48 RBI in 91 games and has .866 OPS, a form he hasn’t seen since his first stint in St. Louis.
As always, Pujols is not one to be overtaken by his own performances. When the fans who caught his bombshell in the 9th inning tried to return the ball, he refused and instead gifted the pair two more signed balls.
“It’s just a baseball. They deserve to have it. He walked out of the ballpark,” Pujols told MLB.com. “We play this game for the fans. So whether they want to return it or keep it, I have no problem with that. I think it means more to this girl than me to have in my trophy cabinet.”
The win leaves Pujols’ Cardinals a month before the end of the regular season with an 83-58 record atop the NL Central. The Cardinals travel to Milwaukee on Wednesday to take on the second-place Brewers.