Seth Udinski, FISM News
Future Hall-of-Fame slugger Albert Pujols was assigned for release by the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday after nearly a decade with the team. Pujols has been a superstar in Major League Baseball, and is universally beloved as a man of high character and even higher talent. It appears that age has finally caught up with him, as it inevitably does for all athletes, and it seems retirement is the most viable option left for the 41-year old.
Pujols spent the first 11 season of his illustrious career with the St. Louis Cardinals, from 2001 to 2011. He made an impact immediately as a worthy replacement for legendary first baseman Mark McGwire, winning the N.L. Rookie of the Year award in 2001. He hit a whopping 445 homeruns in his 11 years with the Cardinals, and led the team to two World Series championships. In 2006, he drove St. Louis to a 4-1 series victory over the Detroit Tigers, and in the his final year with team he led them to a dramatic 4-3 series win over the Texas Rangers.
Following the magnificent win in the 2011 Fall Classic, Pujols easily could have retired at age 31 and would have certainly secured a spot in Cooperstown. But he still had some productive years left. Before the 2012 season, the Angels signed him to a then-record ten-year deal worth roughly $250 million. Though his play declined, he still managed to hit at least 20 homeruns in six of his nine-plus seasons on the West Coast. Pujols was just over a month into the final year of his ten-year contract when the team announced they would part ways.
In both St. Louis and Los Angeles, Pujols provided a commanding presence of leadership and maturity in the locker room. He currently sits at fifth on the all-time homerun list (667), having recently passed the legendary Willie Mays (660). Whenever he decides to call it quits, he will likely enter the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
According to Pujols himself, he wants to keep playing. He is not the supreme hitter he once was, but he could still provide invaluable leadership to a young team with talent. He also still knows how to drive the ball deep, even as he has entered his third decade in the Major Leagues.