Note: This post was originally published on September 20, 2022, when Albert Pujols had 19 home runs in 2022. In order to preserve the original post’s content, some details in the summaries of home runs 1-19 are now out of date but have not been changed (aside from their numerical rankings on this list). In order to preserve the original post’s spirit, subsequent home runs have been added.

On July 4, 2022, Albert Pujols had two plate appearances in a loss to the Atlanta Braves. In the ninth inning, with the team trailing by three runs and the bases loaded, Albert Pujols had a chance, against lefty reliever Will Smith, to turn back the clock and hit a grand slam for which many fireworks in St. Louis could be attributed despite the fact that it was already July 4. But instead, Pujols hit a weak dribbler back to the pitcher and the game ended. Albert Pujols, 82 team games into the season, was batting .189 with just a .601 OPS and four home runs. Were it not for sentiment, there’s a very good chance that the committed designated hitter/pinch-hitter/occasional first baseman would be out of work.

On July 12, Albert’s OPS went above .700 for the first time since June 4. Following a July 27 game, his OPS stayed above .700 for good. By August 18, it was above .800, where it comfortably resides to this day.

That a 42 year-old in his twenty-second Major League season is having his best offensive season in a decade is incredible enough in and of itself, but that it has come in such dramatic fashion, under such dramatic circumstances, for the playoff-contending franchise with which he began his career is truly remarkable. The two most prolific home run hitters on the Cardinals in 2022 are legitimate MVP candidates. And number three is Albert Pujols.

Every single home run hit by Albert Pujols in 2022 has been special in some way or another, so ranking them seems like the errand of a fool, but I am nothing if not a fool. I used a rough mathematical formula to calculate this list, but also, in the true spirit of 2022 Albert Pujols, much of the ranking is also based on ~vibes~. I look forward to seeing where #700 and also his postseason walk-off home runs slot on this list when all is said and done.

#21–Home run #3

Date–May 22, 2022

Opponent–Pittsburgh Pirates

Pitcher–Chase De Jong

Location–PNC Park

Distance–425 feet

Win Probability Added–0%

Runners on Base–0

Inning–5th

It is probably worth reiterating that on May 22, during the game which put the Cardinals over the quarter mark of the season, Albert Pujols was just getting around to his third home run of the season–that he ramped up his production to the point of chasing 700 career home runs was inconceivable. Anyway, while Pujols must be docked for the relatively inconsequential nature of the home run–it was a solo home run to give the Cardinals a twelve run lead and was among the least watched of his 2022 bombs (this was the game that started at 10:35 a.m. Central on a Sunday and was on broadcast exclusively on Peacock)–a 425 foot home run is way more majestic than last place on this list ought to be.

#20–Home run #4

Date–May 22, 2022

Opponent–Pittsburgh Pirates

Pitcher–Josh VanMeter

Location–PNC Park

Distance–403 feet

Win Probability Added–0%

Runners on Base–2

Inning–9th

Similarly inconsequential, similarly unwatched, and arguably even dumber because it came off a full-time second baseman (and, since Yadier Molina ended up pitching the bottom of the ninth, it wasn’t even the most ridiculous moment of the inning), this one narrowly edges out #3 for the very simple reason that Albert Pujols having a multi-home run game, after the struggles he had early in the season, felt so refreshing and so beautifully retro that the cumulative effect comes into play. Anyway, I couldn’t find a high-quality YouTube video of this home run by itself, so I guess you’ll have to relive the previous entry as well.

#19–Home run #15

Date–August 29, 2022

Opponent–Cincinnati Reds

Pitcher–Ross Detwiler

Location–Great American Ball Park

Distance–369 feet

Win Probability Added–3%

Runners on Base–1

Inning–3rd

Like with the previous entries, this one came in a throttling of a terrible division opponent (though, as the WPA suggests, it wasn’t as over, with Albert’s home run giving the St. Louis Cardinals “only” an eight-run lead in the third inning). And the home run wasn’t as towering, and it came at a ballpark which is particular hospitable to home runs. But the closer Albert closed to Álex Rodríguez, the more everything felt significant. This one pulled Pujols within two of A-Rod and gave Pujols the career record for number of unique pitchers dingered off of, if you’re into that (I’m firmly in the camp of “interesting little fun fact that I’d care way less about if I weren’t a Cardinal fan”, but to each their own). And hey, Dan McLaughlin finally gets to call one!

#18–Home run #8

Date–August 10, 2022

Opponent–Colorado Rockies

Pitcher–Austin Gomber

Location–Coors Field

Distance–412 feet

Win Probability Added–3%

Runners on Base–0

Inning–6th

It wasn’t even the most celebrated Cardinals home run of its own inning, as any time Nolan Arenado does anything off Austin Gomber, it is treated with unbridled glee (which is unfair to Gomber, who just happened to be caught in the cross-fire of the Colorado Rockies’ salary dump that is still occasionally treated as a good-faith trade by the Rockies). But hey, 412 feet and in a game that was only beginning to feel over! Yes, Coors Field is a novelty park, but it leads to some cool dingers sometimes.

#17–Home run #12

Date–August 20, 2022

Opponent–Arizona Diamondbacks

Pitcher–Madison Bumgarner

Location–Chase Field

Distance–429 feet

Win Probability Added–10%

Runners on Base–0

Inning–2nd

After the Cardinals fell behind early to the Diamondbacks on a Saturday night in Arizona, Pujols eschewed becoming the first base runner (literally speaking) of the game in order to obliterate the not-quite-Coors-but-still-pretty-thin Phoenix air. We’ll get back to this game in a couple minutes.

#16–Home run #6

Date–July 12, 2022

Opponent–Los Angeles Dodgers

Pitcher–Mitch White

Location–Busch Stadium

Distance–386 feet

Win Probability Added–12%

Runners on Base–0

Inning–2nd

I have a bias–I would argue a reasonable one–towards home runs at Busch Stadium. Dan McLaughlin does his job building up the excitement, and often there’s a fair share of howling Cardinals fans in attendance, but the sheer energy of the home crowd is tough to beat. In this particular game, a game which the Cardinals would eventually win by just one run, Pujols hit a solo bomb to give the Cardinals their first hit/run of the game and to give the team a 1-0 lead.

#15–Home run #9

Date–August 14, 2022

Opponent–Milwaukee Brewers

Pitcher–Aaron Ashby

Location–Busch Stadium

Distance–392 feet

Win Probability Added–11%

Runners on Base–0

Inning–2nd

With the Cardinals trailing by two runs already, this game did not have quite the immediate sense of significance to the game result as his home run off Mitch White, but the difference between the two is even more elemental than this one going six feet further–it was against the Milwaukee Brewers. This was a game in which first place in the National League Central was on the line, and Albert Pujols, just truly heating up, was about to help lead the way. And on to Big Mac Land! This was an early harbinger of things to come throughout the next month.

#14–Home run #13

Date–August 20, 2022

Opponent–Arizona Diamondbacks

Pitcher–Madison Bumgarner

Location–Chase Field

Distance–437 feet

Win Probability Added–11%

Runners on Base–0

Inning–4th

Once again, Albert Pujols faced Madison Bumgarner while trailing. Once again, Albert Pujols absolutely crushed one, via his third longest home run of the season (so far). Although this game would eventually become a blowout–the Cardinals won by nine after scoring eight runs in the top of the ninth–it was a back-and-forth affair most of the night. And for as much as sentiment may have informed the Cardinals’ decision to sign Albert Pujols, they were certainly glad to have his production that night.

#13–Home run #1

Date–April 12, 2022

Opponent–Kansas City Royals

Pitcher–Daniel Lynch

Location–Busch Stadium

Distance–368 feet

Win Probability Added–8%

Runners on Base–0

Inning–1st

It wasn’t especially consequential in the moment–Nolan Arenado had already given the Cardinals a two-run lead the batter before. It was against a bad Royals team. It certainly wasn’t all that majestic–it was the shortest home run of Albert’s season. But it was the first one. We had no idea what was in store. But we knew that we would at the very least have this moment.

#12–Home run #5

Date–July 10, 2022

Opponent–Philadelphia Phillies

Pitcher–Cristopher Sánchez

Location–Busch Stadium

Distance–409 feet

Win Probability Added–13%

Runners on Base–0

Inning–6th

Trailing 3-1 on a Sunday following two consecutive shutout losses, the Cardinals needed a jolt, and Albert Pujols, as he had done so many times before, provided one. The Cardinals would add a run in both the seventh and eighth innings en route to a much-needed moral victory.

#11–Home run #2

Date–April 17, 2022

Opponent–Milwaukee Brewers

Pitcher–Aaron Ashby

Location–American Family Field

Distance–426 feet

Win Probability Added–26%

Runners on Base–2

Inning–3rd

That the Cardinals would eventually lose this game has dulled some of the memory of it, but in the moment, this was huge. In a game against the team’s inevitable division competitor, with a titanic bomb of significant in-game consequence, tying a game that was previously 3-0 Brewers, this wasn’t Albert’s first home run of 2022 but it was his first home run that even hinted that Albert Pujols might be more than a sideshow–he could be, even if intermittently, just like the Albert Pujols of yesteryear.

#10–Home run #11

Date–August 18, 2022

Opponent–Colorado Rockies

Pitcher–Austin Gomber

Location–Busch Stadium

Distance–374 feet

Win Probability Added–3%

Runners on Base–3

Inning–3rd

The raw numbers do not ascribe too much significance to this home run–it didn’t go that far and it didn’t dramatically improve the Cardinals’ odds of winning the game. But the circumstances surrounding the lone Albert Pujols grand slam (so far) of 2022 elevated the exhilaration of what came next. In just the third inning, the Cardinals opted to pinch-hit for Brendan Donovan with Pujols, and Pujols took Austin Gomber deep for the second time in eight days to give the Cardinals a commanding 10-0 lead.

#9–Home run #7

Date–July 27, 2022

Opponent–Toronto Blue Jays

Pitcher–Trevor Richards

Location–Rogers Centre

Distance–439 feet

Win Probability Added–17%

Runners on Base–2

Inning–5th

The day before, the Cardinals had been bludgeoned, and with Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado out of the lineup for another game, the Cardinals were not a team inspiring too much hope. But with Goldschmidt back in the United States, Albert Pujols got a then-very rare start at first base against a right-handed pitcher, and an excellent one in Kevin Gausman. But Pujols rose to the occasion, with three hits on the day, most notably a three-run, two-out home run to give the Cardinals a commanding five-run lead on the first batter Richards faced all day.

#8–Home run #20

Date–September 24, 2022

Opponent–Los Angeles Dodgers

Pitcher–Andrew Heaney

Location–Dodger Stadium

Distance–434 feet

Win Probability Added–19%

Runners on Base–1

Inning–8th

By the time Albert Pujols reached 699 and his pursuit of 700 career home runs became likely rather than the pipe dream it once seemed, any home run Pujols hit was going to be magical. But to absolutely obliterate an Andrew Heaney pitch deep into left field to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead in front of probably the second-greatest stadium in which Pujols could make history (and where he received a warm reception from Dodgers fans with fond memories of his 2021 and with enough playoff certainty that they could applaud history without reservations), and to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead on the road against the World Series favorites? Sure, you could have scripted it better, but this would do.

#7–Home run #10

Date–August 14, 2022

Opponent–Milwaukee Brewers

Pitcher–Taylor Rogers

Location–Busch Stadium

Distance–443 feet

Win Probability Added–12%

Runners on Base–2

Inning–8th

In what was his longest home run of the 2022 season yet, Albert Pujols cemented the Cardinals’ division lead over the Milwaukee Brewers with a three-run bomb that, after a Rowdy Tellez home run in the top of the ninth, became essential to the victory. Going deep off Taylor Rogers, the primary return for the Brewers’ sale of Josh Hader, was a brutal moral defeat for the Brewers, and one could argue that for all intents and purposes, the National League Central was won on this date.

#6–Home run #17

Date–September 10, 2022

Opponent–Pittsburgh Pirates

Pitcher–J.T. Brubaker

Location–PNC Park

Distance–418 feet

Win Probability Added–20%

Runners on Base–1

Inning–6th

One of the most magical parts of Albert Pujols’s chase of 700 home runs is just how many of them have come in big moments. The Cardinals opened their three-game series against the Pirates with an ugly Friday loss, and with the home run which saw Pujols tie Álex Rodríguez for fourth place in all-time home runs, Pujols hit a two-run no-doubter which tied the game. Incredibly, by WPA, this wasn’t even his biggest hit of the game, as in the eighth inning, a single once again tied the game for the Cardinals.

#5–Home run #19

Date–September 16, 2022

Opponent–Cincinnati Reds

Pitcher–Raynel Espinal

Location–Busch Stadium

Distance–427 feet

Win Probability Added–29%

Runners on Base–1

Inning–6th

By the time Albert Pujols hit his most recent home run, what he had yet again accomplished began to feel routine. A 427-foot home run to tie a game for a team trying to close out a division race? This is hardly insignificant stuff–by WPA, it ties for the second-biggest home run of his season–and yet it almost feels like we’ve seen it before. Because we have. The goal, of course, is to not become spoiled by what is happening. I promise to appreciate it as fully as it deserves by the time he’s doing this in the postseason.

#4–Home run #14

Date–August 22, 2022

Opponent–Chicago Cubs

Pitcher–Drew Smyly

Location–Wrigley Field

Distance–373 feet

Win Probability Added–19%

Runners on Base–0

Inning–7th

Many of the greatest moments that St. Louis Cardinals fans associate with Albert Pujols came against their hated rival, the Chicago Cubs, and in his final trip to Wrigley Field, Pujols provided yet another memory for both his biggest fans and his biggest adversaries. In a hard-fought game with minimal offense, Albert Pujols drove in the game’s lone run, and later even managed to record the game’s final assist in order to secure the one-hit shutout for Jordan Montgomery.

#3–Home run #21

Date–September 24, 2022

Opponent–Los Angeles Dodgers

Pitcher–Phil Bickford

Location–Dodger Stadium

Distance–389 feet

Win Probability Added–19%

Runners on Base–2

Inning–4th

There are ways you could pick holes in this home run as one of the season’s true greats. It was a mere lead enhancer rather than one of the more seismic game-changers. It was hit well, but not among Albert’s most explosive bombs. As objectively great as the game being accessible to a national audience is, from the perspective of a local Cardinals sicko I can see wishing you could hear Dan McLaughlin call it. But the sheer joy that Pujols, who had claimed such indifference to #700, was magnetic. The roar of the crowd, Cardinals and Dodgers fans alike. The entire Cardinals clubhouse greeting Pujols while the Dodgers clubhouse, most of whom were teammates with Pujols just a year ago, applauded. The electricity of the moment was absolutely palpable.

#2–Home run #16

Date–September 4, 2022

Opponent–Chicago Cubs

Pitcher–Brandon Hughes

Location–Busch Stadium

Distance–429 feet

Win Probability Added–29%

Runners on Base–1

Inning–8th

In his final plate appearance against his historic arch-rival, Albert Pujols, for the second time in less than two weeks, drove in the entirety of the runs of a game against the Chicago Cubs via the home run, with a towering shot to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead. Immediately, this became one of the iconic moments not just of Albert Pujols in 2022, but of the future first-ballot Hall of Famer’s career.

#1–Home run #18

Date–September 11, 2022

Opponent–Pittsburgh Pirates

Pitcher–Chase De Jong

Location–PNC Park

Distance–403 feet

Win Probability Added–48%

Runners on Base–1

Inning–9th

Ultimately, in a ranking of this nature, the real question is whether to err on the side of historic home runs or on the side of consequential in-game moments, and luckily, Albert Pujols does not make us choose. The home run which vaulted Albert Pujols past Álex Rodríguez for fourth in MLB career home runs was also by far the most significant of his season from a win probability standpoint, carrying the Cardinals from 36% to win the game, trailing by one, to 84%, giving the Cardinals a one-run lead.

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