Top 50 St. Louis Cardinals
In terms of the World Series there is no team more successful than the St. Louis Cardinals. This is an 11 time World Series winner who would compete for Baseball’s elite 19 times and it has resulted in one of the best baseball fan bases in the country.
It may have always been this way.
Professional Baseball began in 1875 with the St. Louis Brown Stockings in the National Association. The league folded and they would join the National League as charter members but that too would be short lived as they were expelled for a game fixing scandal and they would barnstorm over the next few years until they were purchased by a German entrepreneur and would join the American Association. This is where the history of the team becomes official as MLB does not recognize the previous accomplishments of the franchise.
Now named the Browns, the team would become one of the elite organizations of the AA where they won the pennant four times before the league folded in 1891 and they would join the National League, but they would not have the same level of success as they were relatively mediocre until the 1920’s.
With one of the game’s most memorable stars in Rogers Hornsby won the 1926 World Series and in the 1930’s they would field the famous “Gashouse Gang” that would win the 1931 and 1934 World Series. The 1940’s were even better as they won it all in 1942, 1944 & 1946 when they were led by the most consistent hitter in baseball history, Stan Musial.
The Redbirds would continue their high level of success in the 1960’s with expert pitching (led by Bob Gibson) and a combination of speed and defense, they won the title in 1964 and 1967 and in the Ozzie Smith era of the 80’s they won again in 1982. With a power game led by Albert Pujols they would win the World Series in 2006 and 2011.
This list is up to the end of the 2017/18 season.
Note: Baseball lists are based on an amalgamation of tenure, traditional statistics, advanced statistics, playoff statistics and post-season accolades.
Curt Flood was very highly regarded for his defensive skills as he was a seven time Gold Glove recipient (1963 to 1969) but slowly his offensive game increased to the point where he was a regular threat to lead the National League in Hits. He would actually do that in 1964, the season that would see him go to his first All Star Game and World Series (the Cards won) and he would have six seasons where he would bat at least .300. Flood would again help the Cardinals win the World Series in 1967 and he would have a…
A nine time All Star as a St. Louis Cardinal, Red Schoendienst was one of the most consistent players in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. While it might be argued that he was not an upper echelon player he was certainly at the level below and was so for a long time. He would collect 170 Hits six times with an impressive 1,980 total for St. Louis with a .289 Batting Average. Defensively speaking he was one of the most versatile and dependable of his day. He would finish in the top ten in Defensive bWAR eight times as…
Chris Carpenter began his career with the Toronto Blue Jays where he was a middle of the road Starting Pitcher. The Jays essentially gave up on him after the 2002 season offering him a minor league deal, which he refused. The Cardinals would sign him and after rehabbing his elbow through the entire 2003 season he would make the starting rotation in 2004, but it is safe to say that he exceeded all expectations.
Jim Edmonds played eight seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, which without question was the true meat of his career.
Frankie Frisch had an incredible career that was split between the New York Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals, the Redbirds being the team he would spend the latter half of his playing career with.
Marty Marion was one of the best defensive players in Baseball and his nickname of the “Octopus” was appropriate.
Arguably the first really good player to come from Canada, Tip O’Neill was a star for the St. Louis Browns (renamed the Cardinals) in the mid 1880’s and was a large factor in the team winning four American Association Pennants and the 1886 World Series.
Silver King (born Charles Frederick Koenig) may have adopted a somewhat eccentric name but it fit his equally unique pitching style.
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The story of Max Lanier is one of the more interesting ones on this list, which certainly says something considering the colorful characters that have populated the St. Louis Cardinals!
A very popular player for the St. Louis Cardinals, Willie McGee was a former First Round Draft Pick who the Redbirds pretty much stole from the New York Yankees on a 1981 trade for Bob Sykes, who never pitched in the Majors again. McGee would win the starting Centerfielder job in his rookie year (1982) and he would shine on the national stage where he helped the Cards win the World Series.
Taking over the Centerfield job from Willie McGee, Ray Lankford would have a good career with the St. Louis Cardinals where he had 1,479 Hits showing off a nice blend of power and speed. Lankford had six seasons of 20 or more Stolen Bases and also had the same amount of 20 Home Run Seasons with 250 and 228 in total in those to categories for the Redbirds. The National League leader in Triples in 1991 and 1997 All Star had three top ten finishes in Offensive bWAR but his rank is lowered to his high amount of Strikeouts.
If you look predominantly at Wins and Losses than you have to wonder why someone with a record of 94 and 125 is so high on this list, but we are a lot smarter than we used to be in regards to those two stats then we used to be and even back in the 1890’s baseball fans knew that Theodore Breitenstein was a very good Pitcher.
Howie Pollet was on the verge of becoming a star prior to going to serve his country in World War II. He was named an All Star in 1943 and actually enlisted for service that day though he played enough games for his 1.75 ERA to win that title.
Bill White had a rocky road to get to the St. Louis Cardinals, especially considering he really wasn’t looking to become a ballplayer in the first place.
The accomplishments of Mark McGwire are not as distinguished as they used to be but make no mistake what an impact he had when he was smacking Home Runs at will and chasing the single season Home Run record when he was a St. Louis Cardinal. For the younger readers, please understand that everybody was paying attention and it was what got many people back into Baseball.
The rank here was a struggle for us. Jesse Haines is a Baseball Hall of Famer (inducted in 1970 by the Veteran’s Committee) and he played all but one of his games for the Cardinals, so when we were doing this list we initially did not expect him to be so low. Haines recorded 210 Wins for St. Louis, which is second all-time, so how do we come up with a rank in the 30’s?
Larry Jackson went to three All Star Games as a St. Louis Cardinal where he went 101 and 86 overall. Jackson’s best season with St. Louis was in 1959 (in a year where he wasn’t name to an All Star Game) where he was first in bWAR for Pitchers with 7.3 and was also first in the National League in FIP and HR/9.
An All Star in five straight seasons (1943-47), Whitey Krukowski was a beneficiary of the glut of talent that went to serve their country in World War II. Playing at Third Base, Krukowski had 150 Hits in all of his All Star years where he would have three 20 Home Run Seasons, and in three years of those seasons he batted over .300. Kurowski was also a good defensive player who twice finished first in Fielding Percentage among National League Third Basemen and was in the top four on four other occasions. He would notably finish fifth in MVP voting…
While Joe Torre would become far better known for his career as a Major League Manager, he was a pretty good baseball player in his own right.
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