Angels slugger and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols is entering his 21st MLB season and the final year of the 10-year, $240 million contract he signed with the Angels in 2011. Last week, Pujols said he was unsure of what his baseball future would look like after the 2021 MLB season. On Monday, however, his wife, Deidre, sparked retirement speculation after she shared an Instagram post indicating her husband would retire after the upcoming campaign.
The post originally stated "[Monday] is the first day of the last season of one of the most remarkable careers in sports." The post was updated to say it was "not an official statement" of retirement. Pujols then spoke with ESPN's Enrique Rojas on Monday night, saying "nothing has changed" since he addressed his playing future last week.
Albert Pujols to ESPN Deportes: “Nothing has changed what we talked about last week. I will make a decision about the future, depending on what happens this season "— Enrique Rojas/ESPN (@Enrique_Rojas1) February 23, 2021
Here's the Instagram post:
Pujols, who turned 41 last month, is already regarded as one of the best hitters in baseball history, and although his power production has regressed as he has aged, he'll still have a chance to add to his legacy in the 2021 MLB season -- and, potentially, beyond. In 2020, Pujols hit .224/.270/.395 (80 OPS+) with eight doubles, six home runs and 25 RBI.
Despite the 60-game season, Pujols managed to reach a few career milestones. He passed Willie Mays on the all-time home run list to take sole possession of fifth place during the abbreviated season with his 661st career home run. The only players in Major League history with more home runs than Pujols are now Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714) and Alex Rodriguez (696).
Pujols also passed Alex Rodriguez on MLB's all-time RBI list to move into sole possession of second place all-time during the shortened 2020 season. Only the legendary Hank Aaron, who recorded 2,297 RBI in 23 seasons, stands in front of Pujols now. It should be noted, however, that MLB does not count RBI prior to 1920 because it was not yet an official statistic. Both Babe Ruth (2,214 RBI) and Cap Anson (2,075 RBI) are in the 2,000 RBI club when you count pre-1920 stats.
Over the last four seasons, Pujols owns a .242/.291/.406 (87 OPS+) batting line in more than 1,800 plate appearances. For Pujols' career line, it's .299/.377/.546 (146 OPS+) with 3,236 hits, 662 home runs and 2,100 RBI. In 10 of his 17 big-league seasons, Pujols has reached 30 or more home runs, though he hasn't hit more than 23 homers in a season since 2016. At his peak, he was one of the greatest hitters ever, though he hasn't been that player in several years now. With the Angels, in recent years, he's mostly served as their designated hitter.