The countdown from 100 to 1: The Greatest Cardinals of All Time
BY TODD ESCHMAN
APRIL 05, 2019 05:00 AM , UPDATED APRIL 11, 2019 12:12 PM
These are the 100 greatest St. Louis Cardinals in team history. BY TODD ESCHMAN | JASON KOCH
From pitcher Bob Tewksbury to Stan “The Man” Musial, the Belleville News-Democrat has counted down the 100 best players ever to wear the Birds on the Bat.
The BND’s “100 Greatest Cardinals” list was compiled solely on the basis of sabermetric data, averaging each players Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for the seasons they played in St. Louis. Only players who spent at least three years with the team qualified. A multiplier was used to reward longevity.
The list then was counted down daily beginning on Christmas Eve with an essay on the life and career of each player and concluded April 4, which was the scheduled date of the Cardinals’ home opener. All essays are available at bnd.com.
Here’s the entire list:
100. BOB TEWKSBURY: He won 66 games over five seasons with St. Louis. Tewks also was an all-star in 1992 and finished third in Cy Young balloting.
99. TED WILKS: Wilks went 17-4 for the 1944 World Series champs and was undefeated as a reliever in 1945 or 1946.
98. JULIAN JAVIER: He played 12 seasons for “El Birdos,” was a two-time all-star and helped the Cardinals win World Series championships as their second baseman in 1964 and 1967.
97. LEE SMITH: Big Lee twice led the National League in saves during his four seasons in St. Louis, doing so with 47 in 1991 and 43 in 1992. He’ll be inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2019.
96. JOSE OQUENDO: The “Secret Weapon” logged innings at all nine positions. His best season came in 1989 when he batted .291 in 162 games as the starting second baseman.
95. JOE MAGRANE: Injuries cut the left-handed pitcher’s career tragically short, but Magrane had a National League-best 2.18 ERA in 1988 and won 18 games in 1991.
94. RAY SADECKI: Sadecki’s best season came in St. Louis when he won 20 games in 1964 to help lead the Cardinals to a World Series championship.
93. BILL HALLAHAN: “Wild Bill” was a hard-throwing right-hander who, once he gained control of his pitches, won 19 games for the 1931 World Series champions.
92. BAKE MCBRIDE: McBride was Rookie of the Year in 1974 and a National League all-star in 1976 when he batted .335.
91. VINCE COLEMAN: The speedy switch hitter stole at least 100 bases each of his first three years and led the National League in swiped bags six years in a row. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1985.
90. BERNARD GILKEY: As the brewery cut payroll to prep the team for sale, Gilkey led a young team in average in 1992 (.302) and ‘93 (.305) and went on to average 15 home runs and 71 RBIs across a 12-year major league career.
89. TOM HERR: His team-leading 110 RBIs in 1985 made him a rarity in baseball. Only 18 big league hitters before him had ever driven in 100 or more runs with fewer than 10 home runs and only one, Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, has done so since.
88. MURRY DICKSON: Like many ballplayers of the era, Dickson missed two seasons of his prime to service in World War II. In 1946, he went 15-6 with a 2.88 ERA. His win clinched the pennant in Game 2 of a three-game playoff series with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
87. KEN OBERKFELL: He was the perfect fit for the Cardinals of the 1980s, because it’s contact that put Whitey’s Running Redbirds into motion. He also was among the NL’s best defensive third basemen.
86. RAY SANDERS: Branch Rickey sold eventual Hall of Famer Johnny Mize to the Giants to make room for Sanders. In 1944 he batted .295 with 12 home runs, 102 RBIs, 34 doubles, nine triples and 87 runs scored.
85. CARLOS MARTINEZ: He’s still just 26 years old and by far the youngest player on this list. Martinez has given the Cardinals 54 wins, a 3.37 ERA, and a winning percentage of .587 entering the 2019 season.
84. LON WARNEKE: He won 20 games three times for the Cubs, but was traded to the Cardinals in 1937. In five seasons in St. Louis, he was 83-49 with a 3.18 ERA. He went on to a 10-year career as an MLB umpire, then served as a judge in Arkansas.
83. PEPPER MARTIN: He lit an instant spark in the Cardinals’ lineup in 1931 and was the difference maker in the team’s World Series triumph over the Philadelpha A’s. He was the series hero again when the “Gas House Gang” defeated the Tigers in 1934.
82. DARRELL PORTER: He was unpopular after replacing fan favorite Ted Simmons. But with a big post-season in 1982, the excellent defensive catcher earned World Series MVP honors and became a hero.
81. WOODY WILLIAMS: The 15-year MLB veteran had his best seasons in St. Louis. The Cardinals reached the post season in each of his four seasons, during which he had a .672 winning percentage and 3.53 ERA.
80. TERRY PENDLETON: In 1987, Pendleton won the first of three Gold Gloves, batted .286 with 12 home runs and 96 RBIs and ended the Mets’ playoff chase with a ninth-inning home run at Shea Stadium.
79. JOE CUNNINGHAM: In 1958, Cunningham batted .318 and struck out just 23 times. The following year, he hit .345, second only to the Braves’ Henry Aaron in the NL.
78. DON BLASINGAME: “Blazing-game,” so named for his speed on the bases, twice led the NL in assists and double plays and three times led in dWAR
77. HARVEY HADDIX: Haddix won 53 games for St. Louis and, as a Pirate, lost a perfect game and win against the Braves in the 13th inning.
76. TERRY MOORE: “The Captain” was a career .280 hitter and renowned defensive outfielder despite injuries and years lost to military service during World War II.
75. TIM MCCARVER: McCarver’s best season was 1967 when he posted career bests in batting average (.295), doubles (26), home runs (14), and RBIs (69).
74. ANDY VAN SLYKE: During the 101-win, NL pennant season of 1985, Van Slyke was one of five running Redbirds with more than 30 stolen bases while getting starts at four positions.
73. WALLY MOON: In 1954, Moon slashed .304/.371/.435 and beat out Ernie Banks and Hank Aaron for National League Rookie of the Year.
72. LANCE LYNN: Lynn won 15 games in 2013 and again in 2014, when he posted a career-low 2.74 ERA in a career-high 203 innings.
71. RYAN LUDWICK: In 12 big league seasons, Ludwick amassed 11.2 Wins Above Replacement. His WAR in 3 years in St. Louis was 10.7.
70. TODD WORRELL: He saved 129 games for the Cardinals despite missing most of two seasons with injuries. He also took the loss in the “Denkinger Game.”
69. JOAQUIN ANDUJAR: He was both flaky and fiery, dramatic and entertaining. “One Tough Dominican” was a World Series hero in 1982 and two-time 20 game winner for the Cardinals.
68. SOLLY HEMUS: He got bad marks as the Cardinals player-manager, but had a way of getting on base and scoring that earned him his reputation as a scrapper.
67. MATT MORRIS: He never posted a losing record or failed to win at least 12 games in a full season with the Cardinals. The team, meanwhile finished in no worse than second place, reached three league championship series and the World Series in 2004.
66. AL BRAZLE: A rubber-armed rookie at 29, he fashioned a .602 winning percentage with the Cardinals in the 1940s and established franchise records for saves and appearances.
65. BRUCE SUTTER: Sutter contributed 36 saves with a 2.90 ERA and was the door-slammer in three World Series games, including his Game 2 win. His strike out of Gorman Thomas to clinch the Game 7 victory remains an iconic image in the franchise history.
64. CHICK HAFEY: Over three consecutive seasons, he batted no worse than .336, hit no fewer than 26 home runs and both drove home and scored at least 100 runs. He was the NL batting champion in 1931.
63. TOMMY MCCARTHY: In 1890, he batted .350 with a .430 on-base percentage, belted six home runs and had 29 RBIs. He also led the league with 83 stolen bases and scored a career-high 137 runs. He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1948.
62. GEORGE HENDRICK: In 1982, the Cardinals hit a total of 67 home runs. Hendrick’s 19 accounted for more than a third of those and his 104 RBIs were by far the most on that championship team.
61. CURT SIMMONS: After being released by the Phillies, he went 4-0 to help the Cardinals overcome them for the NL pennant in the furious final month of the 1964 season.
60. LONNIE SMITH: “Skates” led the 1982 World Champions by batting .307 with 35 doubles, a .381 obp, 68 stolen bases and a NL-best 120 runs.
59. PETE VUCKOVICH: He won 42 games for middling Cardinals teams before winning the AL Cy Young with the Brewers in 1982.
58. EDGAR RENTERIA: In 2003 he had an MVP-caliber season. He slashed .330/.394/.480 with 12 home runs, 47 doubles, 100 RBIs, 96 runs scores, 34 stolen bases and his second consecutive Gold Glove Award.
57. LYNN MCGLOTHEN: In 1974, he led the second-place Cardinals with 16 wins and posted a 2.69 ERA with 146 strikeouts in 237.1 innings.
56. MILLER HUGGINS: In 1913, he reached base at a .432 clip to lead the National League and his 14 errors were the fewest among the league’s second basemen.
55. BRIAN JORDAN: His best of seven seasons with St. Louis was 1996, when he slashed .310/.349/.483 with 17 home runs, 104 RBIs and 82 runs scored. He also batted .422 with runners in scoring position.
54. GEORGE “WHITEY” KUROWSKI: In the heyday of the pennant-winning Swifties, Kurowski was the National League’s third baseman in five straight All-Star Games, averaging 19 home runs and 94 RBIs per season.
53. BOB FORSCH: He pitched in three World Series, ranks third in franchise history in wins and is the only Cardinals pitcher to toss two no-hitters in his career.
52. DARRYL KILE: Kile won 41 games with a .631 winning percentage and 3.54 ERA in three seasons with the Cardinals. He died tragically on a day he was to start against the Chicago Cubs.
51. JACK CLARK: He led the Cardinals to the World Series in 1987 with a league-best .459 on-base percentage to go with 35 home runs and 106 RBIs. He also became a post season hero in 1985 with his game-winning home run at Dodger Stadium.
50. SILVER KING: From 1887 to 1889, the pitcher won 112 games with a 2.70 ERA for the American Association team that was then known as the Browns.
49. ED KONETCHY: The big first baseman finished annually among National League batting leaders during the dead-ball era and he helped lead the rescue of passengers of a train wreck.
48. JD DREW: He was questioned for his effort and durability even my his major league managers, but Drew slashed .282/.377/.498 over six seasons in St. Louis.
47. BILL DOAK: The right-handed “Spittin’ Bill”was known for his deadly spitball and for a glove innovation that put St. Louis-based Rawlings Sporting Goods on the map.
46. STEVE CARLTON: “Lefty” came into his own with 77 wins as Bob Gibson’s understudy with the Cardinal, but an ill-advised trade allowed him become a superstar in Philadelphia.
45. MATT HOLLIDAY: Acquired in trade from the A’s, Holliday became just the fifth player in history to have 20 home runs, 30 doubles, 75 RBI and 80 runs for nine straight seasons.
44. GARRY TEMPLETON: If not for emotional issues, some think the switch-hitting shortstop was destined for Cooperstown. He was the first player to collect 100 hits from both sides of the plate in a single season.
43. BILL SHERDELL: Largely forgotten, the 1920s-era pitcher remains the winningest left-hander in Cardinals history, including 21 for the National League champions in 1928.
42. RIPPER COLLINS: A known prankster, the Gas House Gang’s first baseman also was an all-star, World Series hero and home run champion in 1934.
41. ERNIE BROGLIO: Best known for the bait that brought Brock to St. Louis, Brogio won 21 games in 1960 and 18 the season before he was traded.
40. CHRIS CARPENTER: A tough competitor, he won the Cy Young Award in 2005, World Series in 2006 and 2011, and twice was the National League’s Comeback Player of the Year
39. MATT CARPENTER: In 2013, he batted .318 and led the league both in hits (199) and runs scored (126). His 55 doubles not only led the NL, they were most by the Cardinals player since Stan Musial in 1953.
38. HOWIE POLLET: He lost two years to military service, but twice won 20 or more games and posted the lowest ERA in the National League for the World Series champs in 1946.
37. ORLANDO CEPEDA: “Cha-Cha” spent nine seasons with the Giants, but was a unanimous MVP and won his only World Series ring as a member of the Cardinals from 1966-68.
36. WILLIE MCGEE: An all-time St. Louis favorite, McGee was a World Series hero in 1982, the MVP in 1985, and a two-time National League batting champion.
35. MAX LANIER: He was the ace of the Cardinals staff for three straight pennants and two World Series championships in the 1940s before jumping to the Mexican League.
34. GROVER CLEVELAND ALEXANDER: Acquired late in his Hall of Fame career, Ol’ Pete got a big strikeout in the 1926 World Series and won 21 games at age 40 in 1927.
33. MARTY MARION: “Slats” was a better-than-average hitter for the shortstops of his day, but it was his defense that won him the National League MVP Award in 1944.
32. FRANKIE FRISCH: He tackled the unenviable job of replacing Rogers Hornsby by leading the Cardinals to two championships, winning the MVP in 1931 and taking over as manager of the Gas House Gang in 1934.
31. BILL WHITE: He had a full career in baseball as broadcaster and NL president, but had his best playing days in St. Louis where he was a five-time All-Star, Gold Glove winner and World Series champion in 1964.
30. TIP O’NEILL: A 19th century hero of the St. Louis team then known as the Browns, he was the second player to win a triple crown while leading the old American Association in 11 statistical categories.
29. JOE TORRE: He was the 1971 National League MVP after batting .363 with 230 hits and 137 RBIs. He later managed the Cardinals in the early 1990s.
28. MARK MCGWIRE: “Big Mac” broke Roger Maris’ single-season record with 70 home runs in 1998 and has been credited with rescuing baseball after a contentious player strike.
27. LARRY JACKSON: A versatile and hard-nosed pitcher won 101 games for some bad St. Louis teams in the 1950s and was a three-time All-Star.
26. MORT COOOPER: The right-handed pitcher went 105-50 with a 2.77 ERA in St. Louis and was National League MVP during the Cardinals’ championship season of 1942.
25. SUNNY JIM BOTTOMLEY: A Ladies Day favorite, the smooth fielding and hard hitting first baseman batted .325 in 11 seasons with the Cardinals. He was on two World Series champions and the MVP in 1928.
24. DICK GROAT: An NCAA Hall of Famer in basketball, he arrived in St. Louis to stabilize a strong infield as the shortstop and help the Cardinals win the World Series in 1964.
23. KEITH HERNANDEZ: He was the National League co-MVP in 1979 and World Series hero in 1982 before being traded to New York to join the “Pond Scum” Mets.
22. JOHN TUDOR: Despite a 1-7 start in 1985 he finished with a 21-8 record and 1.93 ERA with 10 shutouts. His .703 winning pct. is the best ever for a Cardinal.
21. JESSE HAINES: Won 20 or more games three times, earned World Series rings with the Cardinals in 1926, 1931 and 1934 and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971.
20. ADAM WAINWRIGHT: He earned saves in the Cardinals’ pennant- and World Series-clinching wins in 2006, but he won 20 games twice and earned his Cy Young votes as a starer.
19. RED SCHOENDIENST: He hitchhiked from Germantown to St. Louis for the chance to see a game for free. He became a perennial all-star and spent the next 70 years in the game, mostly with the Cardinals.
18. JOE MEDWICK: “Ducky Wucky” would fight anybody over just about anything, but he was as fierce at the plate. He remains the last NL player to win a triple crown.
17. YADIER MOLINA: Raised in baseball by a Puerto Rican hall of famer, Yadi’s World Series championships and nine Gold Gloves make him the best of the catching Molina brothers.
16. HARRY BRECHEEN: A left-handed screwball specialist, “Harry the Cat” pitched the Redbirds to three National League pennants and two World Series championships.
15. RAY LANKFORD: Over 10 seasons, the underappreciated slugger had a more WAR than all but two major league center fielders. He’s the all-time home run leader at Busch Stadium II.
14. SCOTT ROLEN: Shoulder problems led to a rift with Tony La Russa and eventual trade, but he contributed to two pennants and a World Series title as one of the “MV3” and the best defensive third baseman of his era.
13. CURT FLOOD: His legacy as “father of free agency” obscured his brilliance as a player. Flood batted .293, won 7 Gold Gloves and was inducted to the Cardinals Hall of Fame.
12. LOU BROCK: “Looooou...” ran into the record books as the single-season and career stolen base king, but proved he was a complete player with 3,000 career hits.
11. JIM EDMONDS: With diving catches and timely home runs, “Jimmy Ballgame” emerged as a leader both on the field and off through some of the Cardinals’ best seasons.
10. TED SIMMONS: A switch-hitting catcher, he had more career RBIs (1,389), more hits (2,472) and a higher career batting average (.285) than Hall-of-Fame catchers Johnny Bench, Gary Carter and Carlton Fisk.
9. ENOS SLAUGHTER: A dangerous hitter renown for his effort, “Country” tallied the winning run of the 1946 World Series with his “Mad Dash” from first base on a base hit by Harry Walker.
8. DIZZY DEAN: The National League’s last 30-game winner led the Gas House Gang to the 1934 World Series championship. A broken toe led to the premature end of his pitching career.
7. KEN BOYER: One of baseball great defensive third baseman, he slugged his way to an MVP award in 1964 and his grand slam in the World Series that season paved the way to a championship.
6. OZZIE SMITH: Widely viewed as the greatest defensive shortstop in history, he also turned himself into a solid hitter. His walk-off home run in the 1985 NLCS made the folks at Busch Stadium “go crazy.”
5. JOHNNY MIZE: At various points from 1937 through 1941, Mize would lead the league in just about every offensive category and narrowly missed the Triple Crown twice.
4. BOB GIBSON: A fierce competitor, “Hoot” won 251 games over 17 seasons. But his 1.12 ERA in 1968 remains a modern record and inspired Major League Baseball to lower the pitcher’s mound. Gibby won a second Cy Young the year after.
3. ALBERT PUJOLS: Started his career with 10 straight seasons batting at least .300 with 30 home runs and 100 RBIs. It remains the longest such streak by any player over any 10-year period.
2. ROGERS HORNSBY: An abrasive personality, The Rajah nonetheless less batted .400 three times, including a post dead-ball era record .424 in 1924. As player-manager, he led the Cardinals to their first World Series title of the 20th century.
1. STAN MUSIAL: “Baseball’s perfect warrior, baseball’s perfect knight” was as popular as he was dynamic. Upon his retirement in 1963, “The Man” held 17 major league records, 29 National League records and had 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 hits on the road.