Albert Pujols showed during his 2022 season with the St. Louis Cardinals that he still has some left in the tank in his baseball career.
Pujols turned back the clock in the second half of the year. He posted a .323 batting average and recorded 18 home runs after the All-Star break. The three-time National League MVP Award winner also made plenty of history in his final season in the majors. For one, he slugged a pair of home runs in a September regular season game against the Los Angeles Dodgers to become the fourth player ever to tally at least 700 home runs.
In the end, Pujols stuck to the retirement announcement that he made ahead of the season, as he officially called it a career following the Cardinals’ NL wild-card exit in October.
After orchestrating a memorable 2022 campaign, Pujols felt “burned out.”
“People keep asking me if I miss it,” Pujols told USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale. “I don’t miss a freakin’ thing about it. I really don’t. I’ve been playing baseball for 38 years of my life. Seriously, I don’t miss it, dude.
“It was fun. I had a great career. But I am burned out.”
Nightengale noted that “several other teams” reached out to Pujols to inquire about whether he would be willing to return for the 2023 campaign. Pujols was also asked a multitude of times last year if he would consider changing course on his retirement announcement.
“During the course of the year, people kept asking, ‘Are you sure? Are you sure?’ Yes, I was sure,” Pujols said. “I had enough.”
Even as Pujols is just 11 home runs behind Babe Ruth for third place on the all-time home runs list, he did not play baseball to “break records.”
“Can I still do it? Of course,” Pujols said. “But I don’t want it. What, chase Babe Ruth next year? Two years later, chase Aaron and then Barry. I’d be an old man chasing people. I never played this game to break records.
“I am done. I love the game, but I had enough.”
Pujols capped off his career with 3,384 hits and 703 home runs.