It feels like it was meant to be.
Albert Pujols, at the age of 42 (depending on who you ask), is heading back to the franchise where he had his best seasons. While he is yet to make an official announcement, it feels likely that the three-time MVP will retire alongside Cardinals legends Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina, three men who helped bring the Cardinals world championships in 2006 and 2011. The Cardinals are really excellent at being nostalgic and sentimental towards their players while also maintaining a respectable on-field product. This is not simply going to be one year long retirement tour to sell tickets. Once the DH opened up in both leagues, you have to think that the possibility of Pujols returning home became legitimate.
To call Albert’s original run in St. Louis from 2001 to 2011 special in an understatement. For a decade, he was the best player in baseball and easily the game’s most feared hitter. In his first 11 seasons, the man put up a 1.037 OPS. Pujols in a Cardinals uniform was built different, and now he’s back once again, and while I’d be stunned if he puts up the numbers he did during his first stint in St. Louis, to see him back will be pretty damn awesome. And as I said, it won’t just be a retirement tour either. The Cardinals were a playoff team last year that won 17 games in a row in the second half. It shouldn’t make sense for an organization that has been as successful as they have to fly under the radar, but this may be my sleeper pick to win the World Series, and not just because of the storyline. Any team with Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt in the same infield isn’t a team anyone should overlook. It should be a hell of a show at Busch Stadium this year.