The St. Louis Cardinals have won more championships (11) than any baseball franchise other than the New York Yankees. And their fans are among the best, if not the best, in the sport.
In addition to an abundance of talent, the Cardinals have been blessed with quality managers. Five of them have guided the team to multiple World Series. They are: Gabby Street, Billy Southworth, Red Schoendienst, Whitey Herzog, and Tony LaRussa. Bill McKechnie, a Hall of Fame manager, took them to one. So did Hall of Fame players Rogers Hornsby and Frankie Frisch.
Here are my selections for an all-time Cardinals squad:
C Ted Simmons — Seventh all-time in Cardinal RBI.
1B Albert Pujols — 1.037 OPS.
2B Rogers Hornsby — .359 batting average, with .995 OPS.
SS Ozzie Smith — This defensive wizard is seventh on the Cards hit list.
3B Ken Boyer — Eighth on Cards hit list. Batted .293 for the club.
OF Joe “Ducky” Medwick — Won Triple Crown in 1937; hasn’t happened since in NL.
Of Jim Edmonds — Great glove. Seventh on the Cards OPS list.
OF Stan Musial — There are many things to love about Stan the Man.
P Bob Gibson — 251 wins for St. Louis with 2.91 ERA.
Yadier Molina — See Update below.
Johnny Mize — 1.018 OPS.
Red Schoendienst — Similar to Frisch but played longer for St. Louis.
Marty Marion — If not for Ripken, they’d still be comparing tall shortstops to him.
Joe Torre — Won a batting title in St. Louis as a third baseman. Cards got him for Cepeda, whom they got for Sadecki, whom they later got back for Torre.
Lou Brock — Second all-time in Cardinal hits; tops in stolen bases with 888.
Enos Slaughter — Fifth on Cardinal hit list. His dash home from first won the ’46 Series.
Ray Lankford — Ninth all-time in Cardinal RBI.
Dizzy Dean — On this team, him and Bob would win 50.
Harry Brecheen — I say he’s the best Cardinal southpaw ever. 128 wins; 2.91 ERA.
Jesse Haines — Second on the Cards win list with 210.
Mort Cooper — 68-23 for the 1942-44 pennant winners.
Adam Wainwright — Basically the same guy as Chris Carpenter in Cardinal terms.
Jason Isringhausen — The Cards all-time save leader by a big margin with 217.
Todd Worrell — Third on the Cards saves list. 2.56 ERA for St. Louis.
Bruce Sutter — Edges out his fellow ex-Cub Lee Smith.
Tony LaRussa — 9 playoff appearances, 3 pennants, and 2 championships. Edges out Herzog and Southworth.
BY THE WAY: The lapse in grammar in the comment for Dizzy Dean is Diz’s, not mine. I was riffing off of Dean’s famous boast that “Me and Paul [his brother] are gonna win 50 games next year.” They made it to 49, with Dizzy winning 30. It’s no wonder that some English teachers protested when Dizzy Dean brought his poor grammar to the airwaves as a color commentator.
UPDATE: Mark Arnold, distinguished lawyer and long-time Cardinal fan, tells me (and maybe he’s right) that Molina should be the starting catcher instead of Simmons.
Molina has made himself into an excellent hitter. Simmons’ power numbers are somewhat better but Molina is much superior on defense at the most important defensive position on the field. Molina throws out half the runners who try to steal, meaning not very many even try. He has picked off over 20 runners on first, meaning they don’t take big leads, meaning it’s harder to go first to third on a single. He stops just about everything behind the plate and calls a superb game. The Cards’ young relievers wouldn’t be doing nearly as well with an average catcher. The Cards ended up 97-65, but they were under .500 when Molina did not play.
No quarrel with your other selections, though I think I would find a place for Chris Carpenter on the staff. I know he’s been hurt a lot but when he’s healthy he is almost as fierce a competitor as Gibson. That game 5 he threw at the Phillies in the 2011 NLDS was a masterpiece.