Albert Pujols has added another milestone to his historic career after tying Alex Rodriguez on Major League Baseball's all-time home run list.
The St. Louis Cardinals slugger hit his 696th homer in the top of the sixth inning of Saturday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After spending the past several seasons looking like a shell of his former self, Pujols has been rejuvenated since signing a one-year deal to return to St. Louis in March.
It looked like any chance of the 42-year-old being a positive contributor in the big leagues was over entering 2022. He was designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Angels in May 2021 after hitting .242/.291/.406 in 436 games with them from 2017-20.
The Los Angeles Dodgers gave Pujols a one-year deal after he cleared waivers. He showed good power with 12 homers and a .460 slugging percentage, primarily as a pinch hitter in 85 games.
Upon signing with the Cardinals as a free agent, Pujols also announced the 2022 season would be his last.
In all likelihood, the 11-time All-Star will finish his career as the fourth-most prolific home run hitter in MLB history. Babe Ruth sits at No. 3 with 714 homers.
Expectations for Pujols in St. Louis were understandably muted. His return to the franchise where he became a superstar made for a nice story, but there was no indication it would be more than a chance for Cardinals fans to give him a final sendoff before retirement.
Instead of merely taking a final lap around the big leagues, he discovered the fountain of youth. He isn't back to his peak form when he finished in the top 10 of NL MVP voting in each of his first 11 seasons, but few expected this from a 42-year-old designated hitter.
Pujols entered Saturday's game hitting .258/.333/.500 with 16 homers and 43 RBI over 244 at-bats. He is on pace to post his highest batting average since 2012 (.285), highest on-base percentage and slugging percentage since 2011 (.366/.541).
The secret to his success in 2022 has been torching left-handed pitching. He ranks second in MLB in OPS (1.180) against southpaws, trailing Cardinals teammate Paul Goldschmidt (1.379).
Entering Saturday's game, Pujols has also been one of the best hitters in MLB since the All-Star break. The three-time NL MVP has a .326/.387/.695 slash line and 10 homers in 95 at-bats.
His surge has coincided with the Cardinals taking control of the NL Central. They have gone 31-14 since the All-Star break to open up an 8.0-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers.
It seems likely Pujols will have one final opportunity to win a third World Series title with the Cardinals. He previously helped the franchise win championships in 2006 and 2011.