Pujols ‘storybook’ ending reminds Cardinals fans of ‘Modern Musial’

By Derrick Goold St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Three-time MVP Albert Pujols has topped this season in career home runs to join an exclusive quartet with over 700, Alex Rodriguez watched the pitch-level batting practice Thursday at Busch Stadium and remarked how “happy I am Albert has a storybook ending goodbye.”

That ending included Rodriguez surpassing 696 homers to become the first Latin player with over 700.

“The first 10 or 11 years of his career were probably as good as any player in the history of the game, and for Cardinals fans, fans all around baseball, he’s like our Stan Musial of the modern times,” Rodriguez told Post-Expedition during BP.

“He looks happy and liberated — and awesome,” Rodriguez continued. “It’s like putting on the Redbird uniform, there’s a muscle memory and harmony that comes with it. That’s the biggest difference I see, him being in a good frame of mind and ready to finish like a champion.

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Rodriguez attended BP on Thursday’s practice day as he prepared to be part of ESPN’s broadcast of the Cardinals’ wildcard series against the Phillies. Rodriguez and play-by-play broadcaster Michael Kay will have the call for the entire best-of-three series at Busch Stadium.

Pujols’ career, in figures

With the end of the regular season, the numbers are ready and permanent for their future engraving on a plaque at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. In his final season in the majors, Pujols hit 24 homers — his most total since 2016 — and he had 68 RBI to go with a .270 GAA and .895 OPS average.

He finished his career with a .296 batting average, .374 on-base percentage and .544 hitting percentage for a career OPS of .918 in 3,080 regular season games.

He played in the fifth-most games in Major League Baseball history.

His 703 career home runs rank fourth behind only Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762). Pujols finished his 22nd regular season with 3,384 hits (10th most, per Baseball-Reference.com), 2,218 RBIs (2nd), 1,914 runs (12th), 686 doubles (5th), and 6,211 total goals (2nd). A right-handed hitter who often hits hard with runners on base, he also holds the major league record with 426 double-play hits.

Pujols finishes with more extra hits (1,405) than strikeouts (1,404).

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