It turns out that St. Louis Cardinals fans owe the Los Angeles Dodgers a big “thank you” when the 2022 season concludes. And no, it (hopefully) won’t be because LA once again faltered against the Cards in a playoff series.
This pertains to Albert Pujols, who slugged his No. 699 and 700 home runs at Dodger Stadium on Friday to etch his name deeper into baseball history. The love he received from the home crowd and his words in the postgame really describe how meaningful this relationship was in 2021, when Pujols was with the Dodgers for 85 games.
There’s no denying, from a statistical standpoint, that Pujols had a sort of a Baseball Renaissance when he latched on with the Dodgers after being released by the Angels. Pujols, in part-time duty, slashed .254/.299/.460 with 20 runs scored, 12 homers and 38 RBI while mashing against lefties. He provided leadership in the clubhouse and was reinvigorated as a member of a winning team.
If you don’t believe the numbers, that’s fine. But you simply have to believe what came out of Pujols’ mouth after Friday’s series of events. He paid respect to the crowd at Dodger Stadium and revealed how much of an impact his stint with the team had on his career.
If not for LA scooping him up and giving him a meaningful role, who knows what his 2022 would’ve looked like. Would he have even returned?
Albert Pujols shares how the Dodgers changed his career for the better
“Where my joy for the game came back!” What more needs to be said?! Turns out just about everyone withering away with the Angels (except for Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani) has an adverse effect on countless talented MLB players.
Pujols was never quite the same after signing with the other LA team (only one All-Star season in a decade) and was really starting to fall off in a sad way since the start of the 2017 campaign. Perhaps that’s what happens when your team finishes at the bottom of the division (which isn’t very good!) more times than not.
Then, all of a sudden, a tight NL West race and playoff berth helped inspire Pujols and brought forth his unforgettable 2022 season, where he’s batted .264 with an .860 OPS, 145 OPS+ 21 home runs and 58 RBI across 103 games.
He’s not done yet, either! Just six more RBI over the final two weeks of the season and he’ll be tied with Babe Ruth for second on the all-time list. Twelve of those historic home runs and 38 of those historic RBI came with the Dodgers, too.
Just documenting this for everyone out there counting.