Beacon of yearly consistency that Albert Pujols is, he did not start out the season as the juggernaut he typically is.
Last week, the Cardinals first baseman broke out in tremendous fashion -- hitting five home runs, including four in three days, and achieving a feat that hadn't been done since 1966 -- en route to the National League Player of the Week award for the period ending June 5.
Pujols hit .444 (12-for-27) in seven games last week, recording a Major League-best 1.074 slugging percentage, 29 total bases and 11 runs scored. His 10 RBIs were second-most in the Majors, while his 12 hits and five walks paced the NL.
Leading the race to start the 2011 All-Star Game at first base, Pujols has won an NL Player of the Week Award 11 times, the last coming in June 2009.
Pujols hit his 100th career home run at Busch Stadium on Friday in a 6-1 defeat of the Cubs, and on Saturday, he homered twice more, including a game-winning walk-off in the bottom of the 12th inning. St. Louis won, 5-4.
His homer stretch continued in Sunday's series finale, when he led off the 10th inning with another walk-off, a 446-foot solo shot in the 10th inning. That made the final 3-2, and made Pujols the first in the NL to end back-to-back games with a homer since Ron Santo did it for the Cubs in '66.
"He continues to do great things, there's no doubt about it," St. Louis starter Chris Carpenter said after déjà vu. "The things that he's done the last few days have been just like the old Albert."
Pujols' numbers again have him amongst the NL's leaders: his 13 homers are third-best, and his 42 runs scored are second-best. He's hitting .278 with 38 RBIs.
Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.