St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols made history recently when he became just the fourth player in Major League Baseball history to eclipse the 700 home run barrier.
Pujols, who will retire following the Cardinals’ playoff run, ends his career with 703 home runs after hitting an impressive 24 home runs in his 22nd MLB season. But he almost didn’t get there. In fact, Pujols nearly called it a career before he even came close.
Albert Pujols Says He Nearly Retired Following Awful Start To Season
Pujols told MLB.com’s John Denton that the chase for 700 almost ended prematurely. He began the month of June hitting just .210 and did not homer once during the month. Those struggles nearly led the future first-ballot Hall of Famer to retire mid-way through the season.
“No, I did, I swear I did. There were some times when I [asked] myself that, many times,” he said when asked if he thought about whether he should still be playing.
Through 113 games, Pujols had just eight home runs. He finished the season on a 54-home run pace extrapolated over an entire season.
“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.”
The Cardinals benefitted immensely from the slugger’s resurgence. St. Louis posted a 28-8 record from July 30 to Sept. 7 to go from four games down on the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central to 9.5 games up.
Cards fans will hope for more magic from the man they call The Machine when they begin the playoffs on Friday afternoon against the Philadelphia Phillies.