Ever wondered who would be on an All-Star team of past and present Cardinals? Well, here’s our squad.
The Cardinals have had an extraordinarily illustrious history, filled with tons of great players and Hall of Fame talent. Making an All-Star team, picking the best player at each position from over a hundred years of history of St. Louis baseball, was not easy. But here is our take of it.
Starting Pitcher: Bob Gibson
Let’s start our team off with what would probably be near a unanimous vote for the position: Hall of Famer Bob Gibson. Despite a somewhat average start to his career, the future legend posted an 18-9 record in 1963, and never looked back on his way to Cooperstown.
Gibson’s illustrious 17 year career with St. Louis would produce eight All-Star game appearances, including six between 1965 and 1970, as well as two Cy Young Awards, and an MVP in his legendary 1968 season in which he pitched to the tune of a 1.12 ERA in 34 starts, a feat which almost certainly will never be matched.
Gibson was also a rebound postseason pitcher, posting a career 1.89 ERA in 9 career starts, collecting two World Series Most Valuable Player Awards on the way. And as if that wasn’t enough, in those 9 career games started, he pitched 81.0 innings. That’s right. 9 complete games, in 9 career postseason starts. All in three World Series appearances, meaning he threw three complete games per series. And who can forget the legendary performance he put on in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series against Detroit, striking out 17 Tiger batters in a 4-0 victory. Yes, Bob Gibson is a legend, and is the starting pitcher of our all-time Cardinal team.
Catcher: Yadier Molina
Yadi is very simply the greatest catcher the Cardinals have ever had, and one of the best to ever play the position. A top defensive catcher in major league history, behind perhaps only Johnny Bench and recent Hall of Fame inductee Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Molina has been the firm backstop for the Red Birds for a solid 13 years and counting. Long time Cardinal manager Tony Larussa was once quote as saying “the game has never seen a better catcher than Yadier Molina,” and was also cited to have said that he would have still played Molina, even if he was batting .000.
But that was not the case. Along with his defense, Yadi has brought potency from the right side of the plate throughout his whole career. A career .285 batter, he continues to impress from the plate, even when critics deem his time to be up. In 2016, he hit a more than respectable, if not elite, .307, still showing some production in his age 33 season, which is not young for a catcher, with 8 homer and 58 runs batted in.
However, what is probably most respected about Molina is his ability to handle a pitching staff, which most people around baseball agree is second to none. Yadi has always been known to really take the time to get to know his pitchers, their tendencies, etc., which adds just another component to his outstanding skill set. So, these there things taken together, gives us Yadier Molina as the starting catcher on our all-time Cardinals all-star team.
First Base: Albert Pujols
Another entry from recent times onto our team, but one that could not, and absolutely should not, be avoided. For the 11 years Pujols spent with the Cardinals, he was simply one of the most dominant right handed hitters in the history of the sport. In fact, he was so dominant, he was just the fourth player in history to lay claim to the decade triple crown. That is, he led the NL in batting average, home runs, and RBI for the entire decade of the 2000s, putting him on a list with Ted Williams, Honus Wagner, and Rogers Hornsby. Here are those numbers: .328, 445, 1329. 99% of players can’t imagine having those stats for a career in their wildest dreams, and Albert did in in ten years. Pujols will end up on a short list of players to end their careers with 600 home runs and 3,000 hits, and an even shorter list to do so without the suspicion of steroid use, joining Mays, Aaron, and Murray as perhaps the greatest hitters of all time.
And Pujols was no slouch on defense either. He won two gold glove awards in his span with the Cardinals, and was generally considered one of the better defensive first basemen in the league. All in all, in his 11 year tenure with the club, Pujols won three MVP awards, finishing in the top five in voting 10 of the 11 years, and in the top three eight of those years. These accolades speak for themselves, and when it comes down to it, Pujols’s span with the Cardinals will likely be remembered as one of the historically great runs in sports history.
Second Base: Rogers Hornsby
Going way back in time for our entry for second base, we find another candidate that is tough to argue against. Despite playing in another era that may not have held the athletes of today, Hornsby, among most scholars, is considered one of the greatest to ever play the game, if not a legend of the sport.
Over a 13 year span with the Cardinals, between 1915 and 1926, Hornsby hit a whopping .359with 193 homers and over 1,000 RBI. In any era, these numbers are impressive. He is also one of the few men in history who could say that he hit over .400 in a major league season, doing it a miraculous three times with St. Louis, hitting a career high mark of .424 in 1924. Hornsby ended with a career .358 average, second only to Ty Cobb for best of all time.
Hornsby was inducted to the Hall of Fame in January of 1942, becoming just the 27th member of the elite class of baseball. Hornsby, despite playing in the early era of the game, will forever be in the discussion of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball among those who study the game.
Short Stop: Ozzie Smith
Unlike Rogers Hornsby, Ozzie Smith was not known for his offense. Rather, the man they called “The Wizard” was more likely to be seen making dazzling defensive plays out in the middle of the diamond, spinning and turning and twisting all which ways to make miraculous stops and throws. Smith won the Gold Glove award an astounding 13 straight years with the Cardinals between 1980 and 1992, enough for the most wins by any short stop in the history of the game. It is likely that Smith’s defense is what got him into the Hall of Fame, a rare occurrence for a player outside of the battery.
Yet Ozzie was not awful offensively. He was certainly no star, but he did post a career .262 average, with almost 800 career RBI and 580 stolen bases. But again, these are no where near hall of fame offensive numbers, as Smith only slugged 28 career homers, despite one of them being amongst the most famous in history. This just shows, again, how amazing his defense was, for him to get into the Hall of Fame with such mediocre offense, and is why he ends up the starting short stop on our team.
Third Base: Joe Torre
The Cardinals, believe it or not, have never in their illustrious history had a third baseman that has stuck more than a few years. Joe Torre’s six year span with the club is one of the longest stretched the Cards have had by a third baseman in their history. And boy was Torre good for them.
Between 1969 and 1974, Torre hit .308 with 98 homers and almost 560 RBI. Over the six year span, he had two years in which he batted over .300, including 1971 in which he hit .363 with 137 RBI en route to an MVP award. Torre was an all-star four consecutive years from 1970 to 1973 with the Cards, helping to build an elite resume as one of the great Cardinals ever.
Despite playing three different positions with the Cardinals, catcher and first base, along with the hot corner, Torre thrived down at third, and was positioned there the entirety of his MVP year in 1971. Despite not making it to Cooperstown as a player, Torre would go on to become one of the great managers in the history of the sport with the New York Yankees, further showing his elite knowledge of the game, and his ability as a player.
Outfield: Stan Musial, Lou Brock, Jim Edmonds
Let’s start with the obvious one, shall we? Perhaps the greatest Cardinal of all time, Stan Musial was a lock to make our team from the very beginning. Over his 22 year career with the Cardinals, Musial hit an unreal .331 with 475 home runs and almost 2,000 RBI. As well, “Stan the Man” collected two MVP awards in his time in the league, and was an All-Star every year but his first two in the big leagues.
At the time of his retirement, Musial held, or shared, 17 major league record, and 29 major league records. A first ballot Hall of Famer, Musial received a whopping 93.2% of the vote in 1969. The accolades have just kept coming since then for Musial, including being inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014.
As it stands in 2017, with new ways and forms to analyze baseball statistics and sabermetrics, Stan Musial is considered one of the best players to ever play the game. “Stan the Man” will forever be a Cardinal great, and it will be tough to get him off of this list.
Lou Brock spent 16 years in St. Louis, and boy were they some great ones. Over his span with the Cardinals he hit almost .300 with 130 home runs and over 800 RBI, finishing in the top ten of MVP voting four times, and reaching the All-Star game on six occasions.
But batting wasn’t even the main part of Brock’s game. It was his speed. Brock finished with almost as many triples as home runs in his tenure with the Cardinals, which is impressive enough. But at the time of his retirement, he held the record for career stolen bases with 938. At the moment, he holds the second spot behind the great Ricky Henderson, who has a whopping 1,400. As well, Brock ended his career with the high mark for stolen bases in a season with 118, another record ousted by Henderson. However, in this day and age, Brock’s position behind Henderson as the second best base stealer of all time does not look to be at risk, and that is a pretty could place to be if you ask me.
Brock was another first ballot Hall of Fame inductee, his plaque brought to Cooperstown in January of 1985. Along with as a great baserunner, Brock will be remembered as a very good outfielder, and a clutch playoff performer, batting .391 in three World Series, helping the Cardinals to win in 1964 and 1967.
To be honest, looking back at the stats of Jim Edmonds in his eight year tenure with the Cardinals, I didn’t realize how dominant of a player this guy was between 2000 and 2007. I knew he was a great defender, and will probably never forget his diving over the shoulder catch, which I personally think is the best of all time, but man this guy could hit too.
In addition to his six consecutive Gold Glove awards between 2000 and 2005, which confirms how good of a defender Edmonds was, in his time with the Cardinals, he hit .285, with over 240 home runs and 700 RBI. In two separate years did he finish with over 40 homers and 100 RBI, both of which landed him in the top five of the MVP vote. In his eight years with the cub, he hit over .300 three times, and likewise made a trio of appearances in the All-Star game. His postseason statistics are just as impressive, hitting 13 home runs and knocking in 42 runs in six years of playoff play with the Cardinals.
Although Edmonds probably wont end up in Cooperstown when all is said and done, his tenure with the Cardinals, especially his first six years in St. Louis, were something to behold. Not only was he an elite defender at the center field position, but he put up big time offensive numbers for the Cards, and was overall a big reason as to why they made the playoffs six out of eight years between 2000 and 2007.
Manager: Whitey Herzog
It’s very tough to form an opinion on managers that you weren’t alive to experience, because so much of managing can only be observed by watching. In other words, managerial talent doesn’t end up in the box score, except in wins and losses, but even so that isn’t always a reliable statistic.
Thus, for our manager of the all-time Cardinals team, we went with the most famed Cardinal skipper, Whitey Herzog. In 11 years with St. Louis, Herzog won 3 NL Pennants and a World Series title in 1982. Overall in that span he led the Cardinals to a .568 winning percentage, and only had 3 losing seasons.
A former player, Herzog won manager of the year in 1985, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a manager in 2010. Nicknamed the White Rat, Herzog was loved by the city of St. Louis for turning the Cardinals around, back into a championship caliber team. Although there may be other managers deserving of this spot on our team, it is tough to argue against it going to Herzog.
We hope you enjoyed our all-time Cardinals All-Star team. Let us know if we missed anything! Tweet us @cardsblog and give us your thoughts.