Albert Pujols may be playing in his last MLB season this year, according to his wife's Instagram.
"Today is the first day of the last season (based on his contract) of one of the most remarkable careers in sports!" Deidre Pujols wrote.
That first sentence plus the final contract year caveat are important to note, as Pujols himself has not publicly announced any intentions that this year will be his last. He did comment with three heart emojis on his wife's touching post, however, perhaps confirming the news without closing the door all the way shut.
"I have had the privilege to walk out 23 years of this baseball journey and it is with such a full heart that I speak a blessing over him as he finishes this good race! I’ve never known anyone more dedicated, disciplined and consistent than Albert...We by no means are perfect and he is definitely not a machine as so many have called him but he has given all he had to make sure we all had a victory to experience with him on the field. Albert says he doesn’t want to be known for what he did on the field but rather who he was off the field...today I will celebrate both!" she wrote.
At 41 years old, this season marks the final year of the monstrous 10-year, $240 million deal Pujols signed with the Angels in 2012. Due to declining production and a rather non-existent market for designated hitters in their 40s, Pujols' decision to hang it up after this season is an expected one.
Pujols' two-decade career has two World Series titles (2006, 2011), three NL MVPs (2005, 2008, 2009) and 3,235 hits plus another 662 home runs. As one of the most accomplished players the sport has ever seen, Pujols won't start at first base in his final campaign as left-hander Jared Walsh replaced him in the lineup in September last season - and it looks like Walsh will be called upon to do the same in 2021.
“We’ll see how that all plays out. There’s different ways to get Albert on the field, and I really have a lot of faith in his work ethic. Let’s just be patient and see what it looks like," second-year Angels manager Joe Maddon said.
The Dominican Republic native sits fifth on MLB's all-time doubles and home runs lists, respectively. With 669 doubles, Pujols is 123 away from Tris Speaker's record and his 662 homers are 100 away from Barry Bond's record.