Albert Pujols was drafted by the Cardinals in the 13th round in 1999 (No. 402 overall). He shot through the St. Louis farm system, making brief stops in Peoria, Potomac (pictured) and Memphis, before starting the 2001 season with the Cardinals.
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Pujols made an instant splash, batting .329 and winning the 2001 Rookie of the Year award. By 2002, Pujols had established himself as one of the game's top young players. He also took time to pose in the 2002 SI Swimsuit issue with his wife, Deidre.
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Pujols averaged 40 home runs and 126 RBIs through his first four seasons and was runnerup for the MVP award twice.
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His biggest accomplishment through his first four seasons was leading the Cardinals to the 2004 World Series, where they were swept by the Red Sox. In this photo, Pujols is doused with champagne after the Cardinals' 6-2 win over the Dodgers to advance to the NLCS.
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Pujols is joined by his son, Albert Jr., and daughter, Isabella, as he changes the number on the Busch Stadium Games Remaining sign.
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Pujols talks to Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who has been the only manager the first baseman has played for since entering the big leagues in 2001.
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Pujols signs autographs after a spring training workout. The first baseman already holds a number of team records and is arguably the franchise's most popular player since Stan Musial.
8 of 21Walter Iooss Jr./SI
Pujols poses with fellow All-Stars Manny Ramirez, Melvin Mora, Carlos Beltran, David Ortiz,Miguel Cabrera, Miguel Tejada and Vladimir Guerrero before the 2005 game in Detroit. Pujols has been named to nine All-Star teams in his 10-year career.
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Pujols at the Cardinals training facility in Jupiter, Fla
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Pujols greets the crowd before the opening of the new Busch Stadium. He would hit the ballpark's first home run a few innings later.
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Pujols represented the Dominican Republic in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. The team finished fourth overall (out of 16 teams) as Pujols batted .286 with three home runs and nine RBIs in seven games.
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Pujols gets tackled by Ronnie Belliard before Game 3 of the 2006 World Series. The first baseman batted .331 with 49 home runs and 137 RBIs in leading the Cardinals to their first World Series victory since 1982.
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Pujols, widely considered one of the strongest players in baseball, lets the Sports Illustrated cameras in on his workout.
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Pujols with David Ortiz during the 2007 Home Run Derby in San Francisco. Pujols, who currently has 408 career home runs, finished fourth in the competition.
15 of 21Howard Schatz/SI
Pujols is a lifetime .331 hitter and has already won three MVP awards. He has also won two Gold Gloves for his work at first base.
16 of 21Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images
Pujols greets Barack Obama after the president threw out the first pitch before the 2009 All-Star Game at Busch Stadium.
17 of 21Chuck Solomon/SI
Pujols, who has accumulated 1,900 career hits, works on his form before a game against the Reds.
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Pujols was the main attraction at the 2009 All-Star game, held in St. Louis.
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Pujols stretches before Game 3 of the 2009 NLDS against Los Angeles. The Dodgers would go on to sweep the Cardinals in three games as the first baseman managed just three hits and no home runs in the series.
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Pujols stands on a chair next to Shaquille O'Neal for a photograph at a press conference for ABC's Shaq Vs. at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis.
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Pujols waves after he was presented with a Hope Award during the "Restoring Honor" rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
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