Pujols almost quit in mid-season despair, but Cardinals great now has World Series in his sights

Albert Pujols has revealed he almost cut short his final season in baseball before going on the hot hitting streak that took him past 700 home runs.

The St Louis Cardinals great was mired in dismal early-season form, collecting just four homers in the first three months, but he added 20 in the remainder of the campaign.

Pujols failed to go deep once in June, which is when he began to doubt himself, questioning whether he should stick with it to the end of the season.

The 42-year-old will sign off on his MLB career after the playoffs, with the Cardinals hosting the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, in the opening game of their best-of-three wildcard round tussle.

His haul of 24 home runs for the season is Pujols' best tally since 2016, when he hit 31, and it justifies the decision to play on after questioning whether he could justify continuing his career.

"There were some times when I [asked] myself that, many times," Pujols told MLB.com.

Pujols said that by early July, he had "figured something out". A homer in an 11-8 loss to the Phillies on July 7 stopped the rot.

He joined only three others in history in passing 700 career home runs: Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).

Pujols said: "When you have good people around you and they are encouraging you and you realise that God has opened so many doors for you, man, it puts things back into perspective.

"I decided, 'I'm going to stick with it!'.

"I knew sooner or later it was going to come and turn around for me, because it can't be like it was all year long."

The Cardinals finished the regular season with a 93-69 record, and Pujols is hoping they have saved the best for last.

He said: "It's my last year and I want to go out with my best. And my best is winning a championship."