The clock is ticking for Albert Pujols. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim slugger is considering retirement in 2020 because his 9-year-old daughter has Olympic aspirations to compete for the gold medal for gymnastics in Tokyo, Japan. Pujols, half-joking, told the press, “That might have to be the year I retire. You can put that in the paper, because I don’t want to miss it…either that, or they’ll have to put me on the disabled list for two weeks.” Although under current Olympic regulations, his daughter could not compete, as she would only be 14 and the minimum entry age is 16 years old. Optimistically speaking, the rules could be altered in the next five years, but at current regulations, Pujols will have no problems playing out the back end of his mega-contract. In the fourth year of his 10-year $240 million dollar contract, Pujols has averaged a slash line of .271/.332/.473 over an average of 137 games. If you take out his injury-riddled 2013 season in which he only played 99 games, Pujols has performed exceptionally well for an aging first-baseman with a gradual decline. Let’s take a look back at Albert Pujols’ illustrious career.
` Drafted in the 13th round of the 1999 MLB Draft with the 402nd pick, Pujols was certainly a diamond in the rough. Little did the St. Louis Cardinals know that he would become a future Hall of Famer. His MLB debut was made on April 2nd, 2001, two years later. In that same rookie season, Pujols smashed 37 home runs, 130 RBI, a .329 average, and as a result, took home the NL Rookie of the Year Award. As the starting left-fielder for the Cardinals in 2002, Pujols was moved to the number three slot in the lineup, and never left for the remainder of his decade-long tenure. In 2002, he slugged another 30 dingers and 100-plus RBI’s, finishing 2nd in the MVP voting to Barry Bonds. Over the next decade, Pujols would become one of the most feared batters in modern day baseball, slugging 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s in every season. Because of his amazing consistency, he earned the nickname “The Machine”. Albert Pujols, has two World Series rings, 3 National League MVP Awards, 6 Silver Slugger Awards, 2 Gold Glove Awards, and he is also a recent addition to the 500 Home Run Club. His resume and his past playing career will undoubtedly make him a first round lock into the Hall of Fame.
On December 8, 2012, Angel fans celebrated their Christmas early. The living-legend, Albert Pujols, had agreed to a 10-year $240 million dollar contract, and his career with the Angels began. In 2012, he struggled to begin the season in Anaheim, but was justified because of the move to the American League. As soon as young superstar Mike Trout arrived in the Bigs, Pujols’ production picked up. Trout’s youth and fantastic production was infectious, and Pujols finished the season with 30 homers and 105 RBI’s. Plantar fasciitis decimated his 2013 season, playing only 99 games. Feeling healthy and re-energized, his 2014 season was successful, hitting his 499th and 500th career home run off Taylor Jordan of the Washington Nationals on April 22. Although Pujols may be on the slow decline, Angel fans are hoping for enough production to justify the rest of his $189 million still owed to him. So that begs the question, will Pujols actually retire before his contract runs out? With a lot of money still owed to him and his age catching up to him, Albert Pujols will gradually decline into a full-time designated hitter, following the trend set by David Ortiz.
Pujols, a dedicated family man, is fully supportive of his daughter’s Olympic-sized dream. “It was emotional,” he said. “To see her raise that trophy up, the smile and [look] in her eye…there’s nothing more precious. My wife and I were sitting next to each other. Tears were coming out of our eyes. I can’t imagine if she got into the Olympics. It would be pretty exciting.” Another thing that would be pretty exciting is if Pujols, Trout, and a half-way decent Hamilton lead the Angels to a World Series Championship. This goal, shared among many players, would be the highlight of his Angels playing career. In 2015, Pujols will need to earn his $24 million dollar salary to help the Angels win 90 games and repeat as AL West Champions. Once his playing career is finished, Pujols will fully support and invest himself into his daughter’s aspirations. Maybe one day, just like her dad, she will make it to the big leagues, and her dreams will become a reality.
Baseball is,was, and always will be the greatest game in the world
Jake Wesley is now the only writer for MLB_NL_AL.com all of these articles are ether based on facts and pieces of his opinion.