The month of April is when checking the daily MLB lines will become a part of the routine, and fans and St. Louis are more than excited for the 2022 season to begin. St. Louis is expected to be in contention in the NL Central Division this season. And they will do it with one of the most storied players in franchise history Pujols Starting.
The Cardinals recently announced that they signed Albert Pujols to a one-year. $2.5 million deal to bring Pujols back to the team that he once starred for. Pujols then announced that this would be his final year in Major League Baseball. And it was unclear just how much playing time he would receive.
Pujols is not expect to be in the everyday lineup in St. Louis, but he will be in the lineup for Opening Day. Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol announced to the media on Monday that Pujols will be the designated hitter. And this will be the 22nd straight opening day start for the slugger.
There are just three other men in baseball history that have started at least 22 straight Opening Day games. And Pete Rose leads the way with 23 of them. Carl Yastrzemski and Hank Aaron both made 22 straight Opening Day starts during their Hall of Fame careers.
Pujols has actually been in the news a lot recently as he announced that he was getting a divorce from his longtime wife, Deidre. During Pujols’ first stint with the Cardinals. Deidre and the entire family became a huge part of the team and of the city.
The Cardinals are going to give Pujols some time at first base throughout the season. But most of his starts will come as the designated hitter. St. Louis already has an All-Star at first base in Paul Goldschmidt. And he remains of the best hitters in the National League.
Pujols returned to the Cardinals after leaving St. Louis and signing a massive deal with the Los Angeles Angels after the 2011 season. After being designated for assignment by the Angels last season, Pujols joined the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent.
A Legendary Career
When Pujols does finally retire it will end the career of one of the best right handed hitters in baseball history. Pujols was not a big name before breaking onto the MLB scene with the Cardinals. But it took him little time to make a name for himself.
Through the 2021 season, Pujols has a career batting average of .297 and he has collected over 3,300 hits. He will have a chance to reach the 700 home run mark this season as he comes into 2022 with 679 of them.
Pujols was named Rookie of the Year with the Cardinals back in 2001. And he go on to win three MVP awards during that decade. He was a member of a pair of World Series championship teams in 2006 and 2011.
Not only was Pujols terrific at the plate throughout his career. But he was once one of the best defensive players as well. Pujols won the Gold Glove Award in 2006 and 2010, and that was after he actually started off his career in the outfield.
It has been a struggle for Pujols at the plate over the past few seasons. But coming back home to St. Louis could allow him to get comfortable again. Pujols will be a first ballot Hall of Famer when he is eligible.
Other Legends Joining Him
Pujols might not be the only member of the St. Louis Cardinals playing their final season in 2022. Yadi Molina and Adam Wainwright are both still with the team, and it is clear that they are reaching their end of their run as well.
Molina has already announced that this will be his final season in St. Louis, and it will be a long retirement tour. Wainwright has not yet announced his plans beyond this year. But he will have a huge role for this team as well.
All three players are expect to be on the field for Opening Day as Wainwright was chosen as the starter. This will be the sixth time that he starts an Opening Day for the Cardinals and Molina will be behind the plate to catch him.