Albert Pujols on Reaching 700 HRs: 'It Was Always About Winning Championships'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 24, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 23: St. Louis Cardinals designated hitter Albert Pujols (5) circles the bases after his career home run number 700 as a three run home run in the 4th inning of the MLB game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 23, 2022 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Albert Pujols (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

St. Louis Cardinals legend Albert Pujols called hitting his 700th home run "pretty special" but said he won't focus too much on his individual accomplishments until retirement.

Pujols, who became the fourth player in MLB history to reach the 700-homer plateau Friday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers, discussed his career-long mindset after the Cards' 11-0 win.

"Look, don't get me wrong, I know what my place is in this game. But since Day 1, when I made my debut, it was never about numbers, it was never about chasing numbers," Pujols told reporters. "It was always about winning championships and trying to get better in this game. And I had so many people that taught me the right way early in my career, and that's how I've carried myself for 22 years that I've been in the big leagues. That's why I really don't focus on the numbers. I will one day, but not right now."

The 42-year-old Dominican Republic native earned his nickname, "The Machine," in part because of his effortless and often emotionless dominance over the past two decades. So it was unique to see him show immense joy as he trotted around the bases after No. 700.

St. Louis Cardinals @Cardinals

Mr. 700, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AlbertPujols?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AlbertPujols</a>! <a href="https://t.co/ccQ4DQcXV0">pic.twitter.com/ccQ4DQcXV0</a>

Pujols, who's set to retire at season's end, is still keeping his eyes on adding a few more accolades to a résumé that has already made him a first-ballot lock for the Hall of Fame before he hangs up his cleats for good, though.

He's already an 11-time All-Star, three-time National League MVP, two-time World Series champion and two-time Gold Glove Award winner. He also captured the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2001.

The slugger will have a chance to add another World Series title as the Cardinals will soon clinch a berth in the 2022 MLB playoffs, likely as the NL Central champions.

Pujols' return to near-peak form since the All-Star break is a major reason St. Louis has emerged as a legitimate championship contender. It's no surprise he had a little pop left in his bat, but he's exceeded expectations down the stretch.

His 1.076 OPS in the second half ranks second among all MLB hitters with at least 100 plate appearances, behind only the New York Yankees' Aaron Judge, per FanGraphs.

It's been a glimpse into his past when he was one of the toughest outs in baseball for nearly 15 years, and the Cards will hope he can ride that hot streak right through the postseason.

Regardless of how his final season turns out, Pujols will have a lot to enjoy whenever he finally sits back to digest the incredible numbers he's posted throughout his career.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.