All the best trivia about Pujols' St. Louis return

March 29th, 2022

The Machine is back.  will be suiting up in a Cardinals uniform again this season, for the first time since the 2011 World Series.

That means his milestone chases will come in the colors he wore to start his career and when he won two World Series, and that he gets to reunite with Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina.

Here are 11 things to know about Pujols’ return to St. Louis for what he said will be the final season of his legendary career.

• When Pujols plays his first regular-season game with the Cardinals, it will have been 10 seasons since he left after winning the 2011 World Series with the club. That will be the most seasons between a World Series win and a player's next game with a franchise, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The previous longest such span was nine seasons, for Tony Phillips’ with Oakland -- a 1989 World Series win followed by his next game with the club in ‘99.

• Pujols is 21 home runs away from joining the 700 club. He'd be the fourth member, along with Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).

He'd also pass Alex Rodriguez (696) and move into fourth place on the all-time leaderboard with 18 more homers.

• Another home run milestone on Pujols’ radar? That would be the one at the end of the game. He’s one walk-off homer shy of tying Jim Thome for most all-time, at 13. Pujols' last walk-off homer was Aug. 3, 2016, with the Angels, and his last in a Cardinals uniform came on June 5, 2011.

• Pujols could soon enter the top 10 on the all-time hits list. He ranks 11th in MLB history with 3,301, and he's about to pass some big names. Pujols is just 12 hits behind Eddie Collins (10th, 3,313 hits) and 18 behind Paul Molitor (ninth, 3,319).

• Pujols, with 2,073 hits as a Cardinal, is 37 away from tying Rogers Hornsby (2,110) for fourth on the Cardinals' all-time list. (Molina is just ahead of Hornsby with 2,112).

Pujols is also 30 home runs away from tying Stan Musial atop the Cardinals' franchise leaderboard. Pujols has 445 home runs with St. Louis; Musial hit 475.

• It’s mind-boggling to think about how far back Pujols’ time with the Cardinals stretches. He was a 13th-round Draft pick by the team in 1999, back when the D-backs and Rays were in their second seasons of existence, the Astros were NL Central champions and Mark McGwire was months removed from breaking Roger Maris’ single-season home run record.

• Speaking of stretches, the trio of Pujols, Wainwright and Molina will have played on the Cardinals in 2005, when Wainwright debuted to join the other two, and in 2022. Those 18 seasons will be the second-largest span between a trio’s first season playing for a team and their last season playing for the same team in the last 40 seasons according to Elias. The only trio with a longer span: Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera with the Yankees, a 19-season span from 1995-2013, according to Elias. The trio need not have played together for all years in the span -- this just quantifies their first and last year together on said team.

• Pujols debuted on April 2, 2001, batting in front of Mike Matheny, who is now entering his 10th season as a Major League manager.

• Pujols’ new teammate and 2021 NL Rookie of the Year Award finalist Dylan Carlson was less than 1 year old when Pujols was drafted, and he had just turned 3 when Pujols took 2001 NL Rookie of the Year honors. Jordan Walker, the Cardinals’ No. 1 prospect, was born on May 22, 2002, the day Pujols went 2-for-4 for the Cardinals in his 206th career MLB game.

• How long has Pujols been gone? Since Game 7 of the 2011 World Series, 32 players have appeared in a regular-season game at first base for the Cardinals.

• In 11 seasons from 2001-11, Pujols hit 445 home runs for the Cardinals. In the 10 seasons since then, the top four Cardinals home run hitters (Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina, Paul DeJong and Matt Holliday) have combined to barely top that number, with 460 total homers.