Albert Pujols’ recent power surge has been one of the highlights of the 2022 MLB season. However, “The Machine” says that he isn’t interested in chasing homer No. 700.
Meeting with reporters prior to St. Louis’ clash with San Diego on Tuesday, Pujols, who many believed he was scheduled for a day off, was in the starting lineup. He insisted, though, that his focus was firmly helping deliver another championship to St. Louis.
He also rebuffed suggestions that he was pushing to join Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron in the 700-homer club, saying that chasing stats has never been a part of his approach to the game, so why start now.
Albert Pujols discusses nearing 700 career home runs as tonight’s series begins at Petco Park: pic.twitter.com/aOQXTTvNBj
— 97.3 The Fan (@973TheFanSD) September 20, 2022
Exactly tell me what am I chasing, Frank? Because I’m not chasing anything, buddy. I mean, that’s something that you guys are playing with it. I just, never chased any numbers and I accomplished so much so 22 years later I’m definitely not going to chase anything…
What I’m chasing, you know what, is another ring. That’s what I’m chasing for the city of St. Louis and for our fans, and that’s why I signed back for this year.
Prince Albert has been on an absolute tear during the second half of the season. He’s posted a .307/.371/.677 slash line with 13 homers in 44 games since the end of the All-Star break. Pujols’ impressive displays put him right on the brink of MLB history, something the league has quite clearly tried to capitalize on.
The chase resumes tonight. 💥
We are so lucky to be able to witness this. pic.twitter.com/SCMG5KQEsY
— MLB (@MLB) September 20, 2022
For what it’s worth, Cards manager Oliver Marmol has made it clear just how much he desires for Pujols to reach the vaunted No. 700.
“You should see my [direct messages] on Instagram; I’ve been called every name in the book by fans in the D.R. when I don’t have Albert in the lineup,” Marmol said earlier in the month, per MLB.com’s John Denton.
If Albert doesn’t get to 700, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back there.
Marmol’s comments were humorous. But they are rooted in truth. Marmol has helped put Pujols on the path to 700, taking him in-and-out the lineup in an effort to preserve him through the grueling end-of-the-season slate. The result? Pujols gets to bat primarily against lefties, a disposition of hurler that Pujols has notoriously crushed throughout his 22-year career.
The stats bear this out: Pujols is hitting an obscene .356/.408/.760 against left-handed pitching this season. That’s a 1.168 OPS, or nearly 40 points higher than Aaron Judge’s total OPS on the season (1.120).
To his credit, Marmol seems insistent on getting Pujols on the field as much as possible in an effort to get him to 700.
“I’d want to see four [at-bats] a night, too. I get it, I completely get it,” Marmol said. “The balance is how do we get the best version of Albert? Is it playing him every day? Or is it not? What’s scarier for the opposition — me being able to pick my spots to use him based on the best matchups and they don’t have an answer for it? Or them being able to match up with him based on him being in the [starting] lineup?”
Pujols’ was expected to take a day off on Tuesday. However, when the lineup card came out, his name was included. He’s batting sixth as the Cards’ designated hitter.
— Mike DiGiovanna (@MikeDiGiovanna) September 20, 2022
The Cardinals have 14 games left this season. With a division lead of 8.5 games over the second-place Brewers, St. Louis is seven games away from clinching an NL Central crown.
Achieving the 700 home run mark would be a spectacular accomplishment for Pujols and many wouldn’t fault him even if he was ‘chasing.’
He can rest when he’s retired.