José Alberto Pujols Alcántara was born January 16, 1980, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Albert moved to the United States in 1996, and at the age of 16, attended Fort Osage High School in Independence, Missouri. While there, Albert was twice awarded all-state honors in baseball. He earned a baseball scholarship and attended Maple Woods Community College in Kansas City where he played one year before being selected in the 13th round of the 1999 free agent draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.
After spending only one full season in the minor leagues, Albert stormed onto the big league scene in 2001, capturing National League Rookie of the Year honors unanimously that year. He set NL rookie records for RBI, total bases and base hits and batted .329 with 37 HRs and 130 RBI.
In 2002, Albert batted .314 with 34 HRs and 127 RBI and finished as runner-up for the NL Most Valuable Player award. Since his rookie season, Pujols has never failed to finish outside the top four in MVP voting.
Albert won his first batting title in 2003 with a .359 mark, also leading the league in hits, runs scored and doubles. He again finished second in the NL MVP voting.
In 2004, Pujols led the Cardinals into the teams first World series since 1987. That year, St. Louis had the best record in baseball and Pujols, who hit .331 with 123 RBI and a career-high 46 HRs during the regular season, was named MVP of the NLCS.
Albert captured the first of his two National League Most Valuable Player awards in 2005. He finished the season among the NL’s top five in all three Triple Crown categories. One of the defining moments in his career took place in the postseason that year during Game 5 of the NLCS. Facing elimination against Houston, Pujols hit a dramatic two-out, three-run ninth-inning homer off Astros closer Brad Lidge to give St. Louis a dramatic come-from-behind victory at Minute Maid Park.
As significantly that year, Albert and his wife, Deidre, announced the formation of the Pujols Family Foundation.
In 2006, Albert began the season establishing a new Major League record for most home runs hit in the month of April, 14. Just over a month later, an injury placed him on the disabled list for the first time in his career. At that point, June 3, Albert already had 25 HRs and 65 RBI. Battling injuries the remainder of the season, Pujols finished with a .331 average, a .431 on-base percentage and a .671 slugging percentage. He finished second in the league in HRs with 49 and RBI with 137 and was, once again, runner-up in the MVP voting.
The Cardinals limped into post season play that year with a record just over .500, but thanks in great part to Pujols leadership, the Cardinals caught fire, beating the New York Mets in a dramatic seven-game NLCS and then capturing the franchises 10th World Series title, beating the Detroit Tigers in five games. And, on top of his many offensive achievements in 2006, that year also saw the Redbird first baseman capture his first Gold Glove Award.
In 2007, Albert earned his sixth straight trip to the All Star Game, finishing the season with a .327 average, 32 HRs and 103 RBI, marking the first time in baseball history a player had surpassed .300/30HR/100RBI for seven consecutive seasons at the beginning of a career.
Albert won his second Most Valuable Player award at the end of the 2008 season. In addition to his usual numbers with 30+ HRs/.300+ avg./100+ RBI, Albert also achieved two milestone accomplishments during that year. He clubbed his 300th career home run on July 4, and his 1,500th career hit on August 30. Following the 2008 campaign, Pujols became the second player in history to win the MVP and Roberto Clemente Award, the latter given for accomplishments off the baseball field, in the same year.
Albert began the 2009 season as the NL Player of the month for April, the fourth time in his career he had been so honored. At the All Star break, he led the Major Leagues in both HRs (32) and RBIs (87) and was the leading vote-getter for the All Star game, held in St. Louis for the first time since 1966. He became the 7th player in baseball history to reach the 30 HR mark before July and set a Cardinals franchise record with his eleventh career grand slam on August 4th, in New York City. Albert ended the season with a .327 batting average, 47 home-runs and 135 RBIs. Numbers good enough to earn Pujols his third National League’s Most Valuable Player Award.
At the end of 2009, Albert was also awarded ‘The Player of the Decade’ honor by both The Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.
In August 2010, Albert hit his 30th home run of the season, extending his own major league record of the most consecutive 30 home run seasons to begin a career. Later that month, he hit his 400th career home run, becoming the first player in major league history to reach the milestone in his first 10 seasons. In the same game, he hit his 30th double of the 2010 season, extending his consecutive seasons of 30+ doubles to 10. Albert won the National League Player of the Month Award in August for the sixth time, more than any active NL player.
In September, Albert reached 100 RBIs for the 10th consecutive year and reached 40 home runs for the sixth time in his career. Only six other players have more than six 40 HR seasons. At the conclusion of the 2010 season, Albert won his second Gold Glove Award and the National League Silver Slugger Award at first base, finishing second in the NL MVP race.
In June 2011, Albert had the 41st multi-HR game of his career, and became only the third player to hit walk-off home runs in consecutive games in extra innings when he did it on June 4th and 5th. The extra-inning walk-off home run on June 5th was the 10th of his career, tying him with Mickey Mantle.
In July, Pujols got his 2000th career hit, against the Chicago Cubs. On August 14th, he hit the longest home run at Busch Stadium III, estimated at 465 feet.
As part of the Cardinals improbable run to the 2011 World Series, Albert joined Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth as only the third man in history to hit three home runs in a World Series game. That same game, Game 3, saw Albert became the first player in history to get hits in four consecutive innings, as he set the record for most total bases and tied records for the most home runs, hits, and RBIs. Game 3 marked Pujols’ 70th post season game. Over that span, he hit .343 with a .444 on-base percentage, a .630 slugging percentage, and 18 home runs with 52 RBIs.