I am a Cardinal fan born and bred. Period. No denying it. No apologies.
I have followed my beloved Redbirds since 1978 and the last years of Lou Brock, through the ups-and-downs of the Whitey Herzog era of the 1980s, amidst the less-than-stellar Joe Torre tenure of the early 90s, and of course during the current Tony LaRussa regime which began in the mid-to-late 1990s.
I’ve also been a student of the franchise – researching and reading about the Cardinal players past and present. As a result of that research and my love of the Cardinals, I present MY Top 10 List of All-Time St. Louis Cardinal Players. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll present 1 post each day or so revealing the next player on my list with a brief bio, some links to various sites, and my thoughts on the player.
I am basing my criteria primarily on statistics AS A CARDINAL PLAYER. I did not take into consideration any stats accumulated while a member of another franchise (i.e. you will NOT see pitching great Steve Carlton on this list for example).
I also factored in things like All-Star game appearances, gold gloves, years of service with the Cardinals, post-season play, and historic moments.
Before I get on to the main post, let me mention 7 players who didn’t quite make the list. These are 7 Cardinal players who I am particularly fond of, many of whom I watched play. They are great players. 3 of them are current Hall of Famers. Arguments could be made that the other 4 deserve to be in Cooperstown as well. In no particular order, here are the top 7 players who didn’t make the cut:
1. Mark McGwire
If it wasn’t for his link to performance enhancing substances, Big Mac would have been a lock for my Top 10. He helped revive baseball after the strike of 1994-95 with his pursuit of the Roger Maris’ single season HR record – ultimately breaking the record in 1998 by hitting 70 HR that season. I vividly remember watching him hit #62 on TV – a line drive bullet shot that barely cleared the left field wall. Too bad all of this was tainted by his use of performance enhancers.
2. Bruce Sutter
I have to admit that I didn’t give pitchers much love on my list – and closers even less. Yet, Engine #42 was one of my favorites. What’s not to like about a stringy haired, bushy bearded imposing figure who saved 127 games over his 4 years as a Cardinal? And if that wasn’t enough, he invented a new pitch (or at least is credited for perfecting it): the split finger fastball. He was also a workhorse, averaging just under 1.6 innnings pitched per game played – in other words, Sutter was not your typical one inning closer. If that wasn’t enough, he’s a Hall of Famer.
3. Lee Smith
Possibly the 2nd most intimidating pitcher ever to play for the Cardinals. Large. Imposing. Impressive. Smith is 2nd all-time on the Cardinals save list, amassing 160 saves over a 4 year period between 1990 and 1993. I had the opportunity to meet Lee Smith and get his autograph several years back. He is just as large and imposing in person as he is on the mound. He SHOULD be in Cooperstown.
4. Dizzy Dean
I know. I know. How in the world can you NOT put Dizzy Dean on your top 10 list of all-time Cardinals? Well, it was tough. In his 7 year career as a Cardinal, Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean had a 134-75 record, placing him 6th all-time in Cardinal wins. His 1095 strikeouts are 2nd among Cardinal history. He’s a Hall of Famer, had a sub 3.00 ERA, and had 30 saves to boot. He was also that last Cardinal to win 30 games doing do in 1934 with a 30-7 record enroute to his only MVP award. He also went 2-1 leading the Cardinals to the 1934 World Series title.
5. Ted Simmons
Ted Simmons was the greatest Cardinal catcher of all-time: 6 times an All-Star as a Cardinal; in the Cardinals Top 10 in both HR and RBI. From 1972 through 1980, Simmons ranked 3rd in the NL or better in SB allowed as a catcher – leading the NL 4 of those years.
6. Red Schoendienst
This was another one that was hard to leave off my list. Hall of Famer. 9-time All-Star. Cardinals Top 10 in Runs, Hits, and Doubles. Managed the Cardinals for 12 full seasons and parts of 2 others, compiling a 1041-955 record with an NL Championship in 1968 and a World Series Championship in 1967. The 2nd greatest 2B in Cardinal history only behind the great Rogers Hornsby.
7. Jim Edmonds
This was probably the hardest one to leave of my list for a variety of reasons – not the least of which is personal in that Jim Edmonds and I were born on the exact same date: June 27, 1970. My “evil twin”, as I’ve grown to call him, was probably the best defensive CF I ever saw play the game – noting that the All-Time greats in CF like Tris Speaker, Willie Mays, Joe Dimaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Ty Cobb, had long since stopped playing by the time I got interested in baseball. Edmonds is 4th in HR and 12th in RBI on the Cardinals All-Time lists. He went to 3 All-Star games as a Cardinal and helped lead the team to its 2006 World Series Championship.
So, who made the cut? Who is on my top 10? Stay tuned to see my Top 10 Cardinals. We start with #10…