Through the month of March, leading up to MLB Opening Day on April 1,
Sports Spectrum is highlighting 21 Christ-following players to watch in 2021.
Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols enters the 2021 season in the top five in MLB history in home runs, runs batted in, total bases and doubles. Another 84 hits would move him into 10th all-time on that list too.
The 41-year-old is now in the final season of the 10-year, $240 million deal he signed with the Angels back in December 2011, prompting speculation this might be his final season. An Instagram post from his wife Deidre seemed to suggest the speculation was accurate, but Pujols later made it clear he has not made any decision on his future.
Pujols played in 39 games during the abbreviated 2020 season, hitting .224 with six home runs and 25 RBIs. The Angels finished 26-34, missing the playoffs for the sixth straight year. With Pujols, Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Justin Upton and Shohei Ohtani forming a formidable heart of the order, the talent is there to reach the postseason in 2021. Should the Angels make it, it would be Pujols’ first playoff appearance since 2014 after seven with the Cardinals from 2001-2011.
Even with his long list of accomplishments, the 10-time All-Star, three-time MVP and two-time World Series champion has kept his faith at the center of his life.
“I always say God doesn’t need me, but I need Him in my life to survive in this world and over temptation,” Pujols once told the Christian Broadcasting Network. “That’s who keeps me humble every time.”
In 2005, he launched the Pujols Family Foundation to serve those living with Down syndrome and support impoverished people in the Dominican Republic, where he was born. The foundation’s mission is “to honor God and strengthen families through our works, deeds and examples.”
Happy birthday to the PFF Founder and President, @PujolsFive! We're thankful for your leadership, kind-heart, and commitment to faith, family, and others! Happy Birthday, Albert! ❤️🥳 #HappyBirthdayAlbert #PFF pic.twitter.com/5CLAw6Yxeq
— Pujols Foundation (@pujolsfound) January 16, 2021
Above all else, Pujols sees baseball as a way to point people to Christ and spread God’s love.
“My life’s goal is to bring glory to Jesus,” he said in a 2012 interview with Cru. “My life is not mostly dedicated to the Lord, it is 100 percent committed to Jesus Christ and His will. God has given me the ability to succeed in the game of baseball. But baseball is not the end; baseball is the means by which my wife, Dee Dee, and I glorify God. Baseball is simply my platform to elevate Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.”
When the Angels furloughed their employees in the Dominican Republic as a cost-cutting measure during last year’s COVID-19 pandemic, Pujols stepped up and paid the employees’ salaries. It is just one of the many ways he has lived out his faith during his storied 20-year career.
About to begin his 21st season in the majors, the the uncertainty surrounding Pujols’ future will be a point of discussion as he decides whether he wants to continue playing beyond 2021. When it comes time to make that decision, he knows he does not have to make it on his own.
“Jesus Christ is the one who guides all of my decisions and that’s who I play for,” Pujols told Sports Spectrum back in 2011. “Through Him, I’ve learned more than I ever knew and I feel that I have a great responsibility to just stay humble and keep my focus on Him.”
— L.A. Angels’ Albert Pujols sets MLB record for most hits by foreign-born player
— Angels’ Albert Pujols becomes 32nd player in MLB history to achieve 3,000 hits
— Albert Pujols pens beautiful letter to daughter with Down syndrome
— Albert Pujols’ 610th career home run helps raise money for Down syndrome
— Albert Pujols, fellow MLB players honor God through their walk-up music
— Albert Pujols Reaches 600 Home Run Club — Gives God The Glory
— NEW PODCAST: Anthony Rendon – Los Angeles Angels Third Baseman
— Nationals’ Anthony Rendon wants to be ‘more Christian than baseball player’