The St. Louis Cardinals have been a popular team to back when making MLB picks over the last two decades, and there have been two players right in the middle of a lot of the action. Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina are going to go down as two of the best players to ever wear a Cardinals uniform, and they are both retiring at the end of the 2022 season.
The 2022 MLB season served as a year-long retirement tour for both players as they went around receiving gifts from most teams in baseball. It looked as if the Cardinals were also going to cap off the season with another championship, but St. Louis was eliminated by the Philadelphia Phillies in the Wild Card Round.
Even for non-Cardinals fans, it was fitting to see a pair of future Hall of Fame players end their seasons together. There was a large gap in which these players weren’t teammates, but it was fitting to see them end their careers together.
Molina Was the “Man”
When Yadier Molina broke into the big leagues, he was viewed as a light-hitting catcher, but someone that could make an impact with his defense. Those projections held true a bit, but Molina certainly provided some big hits throughout his career, and his defense might be the best of all time.
There was a time when the Cardinals were often a team picked when making World Series predictions, and it was because of what Molina brought to the team. It was nearly impossible to steal a base on Molina when he was in his prime, and he always did a great job in working with the pitching staff.
Molina practically served as another pitching coach when he was catching for St. Louis, and he was the leader of the team. The Cardinals fans absolutely loved Molina, and his jerseys filled Busch Stadium every time St. Louis was playing at home.
It’s hard to place Molina in the ranks when it comes to the best catchers of all-time, because he just wasn’t a great hitter. Many have argued that he is the best defensive catcher in baseball history, and it’s hard to imagine him not being a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Injuries plagued Molina throughout his career, and he wasn’t around a ton this season. His retirement is going to leave a massive hole in the Cardinal’s lineup moving forward, and it could impact how the Cardinals play.
Pujols Makes History
Albert Pujols left the St. Louis Cardinals after the 2011 World Series championship season and signed a massive deal with the Los Angeles Angels. St. Louis was not willing to pay Pujols the contract that he believed he deserved, and his departure upset the fans in St. Louis.
Pujols was routinely a top pick when making MLB predictions for league MVP, but things just never worked out the same in Los Angeles. The slugger put up historic numbers in St. Louis, but he just couldn’t stay healthy.
After being traded to the Dodgers at the end of the 2021 season, Pujols became a free agent and was looking for a new team. In a script that is fit for Hollywood, the St. Louis Cardinals decided to bring the future Hall of Famer back for one final season.
All Pujols did this season was go on a tear in the second half of the year to finish with 702 career home runs, becoming just the 4th player to get to 700. The blast fittingly came on the road against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and his historic season was the perfect cap to an unbelievable career.
Wainwright Could Join the Duo
Veteran pitcher Adam Wainwright hasn’t made a decision about his future yet, but there is a good chance that he joins his longtime teammates in retirement. Wainwright is not going to join Pujols and Molina in the Hall of Fame, but he was a terrific pitcher for the Cardinals during his tenure.
Wainwright and Molina set the record for most starts by a batter in MLB history, and it would be weird to see him pitching to anyone else moving forward.