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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top 10 St. Louis Cardinals of All Time: Who was the Greatest Cardinal?

Top 10 St. Louis Cardinals of All Time: Who was the Greatest Cardinal?

Publish Date: 04/09/2024
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

The St.Louis Cardinals are one of the greatest organizations in baseball history. It’s almost impossible to come up with just the top ten players because there are so many worthy candidates. Today, we will give it a shot, though. This list is for retired players only.

Criteria

Stats, of course, are huge, but winning is always the most significant thing, and this list is full of winners and record-setters. The player’s effect on the game is also always a huge factor, and the great thing about this list is that it seems to cover every great era of Cardinals baseball. Playing all or most of your career in St. Louis is also highly regarded when making this list. Once a Cardinal, always a Cardinal.

 

10) Enos Slaughter

Enos Slaughter made his Cardinals debut in 1938 and put together one of the more impressive resumes in franchise history despite an interruption of three years in the military. Over 1800 games with St. Louis, he amassed 647 extra-base hits while also being named ten-time All-Star and right fielder on two World Series-winning teams – eventually being honored with induction into Cooperstown that same year and having his number 9 retired by them as well. If you like betting on baseball, take a look at our best baseball betting app.

Video: Enos Slaughter's Mad Dash.MOV

Enos Slaughter’s Mad Dash.MOV

9) Yadier Molina

Molins excelled at handling pitchers while being one of the greatest hitting catchers ever. However, Molina made this list for his stellar defense behind the plate as his ability was undisputed.

Molina stands as one of the greatest catchers and defensive players ever seen in baseball history, earning 10 All-Star selections, nine Gold Glove wins and four Platinum Glove awards over his 10-year MLB career. Additionally, his 55.6 fWAR ranks 10th overall among catchers, making Molina an inevitability for Hall-of-Famer status.

Video: Yadier Molina The Perfect Arm

Yadier Molina The Perfect Arm

8) Dizzy Dean

Right-hander Dizzy Dean was an effective pitcher for the Cardinals during the 1930s, often used both out of their bullpen and in the rotation. No matter his position on the diamond, Dean often provided excellent relief against opposing teams; his 2.99 ERA over 1,737.1 innings earned 134 victories while leading strikeouts during four consecutive seasons from 1932-35;

additionally, he was named to four all-star teams and honoured as National League MVP in 1934 when he helped win a World Series Championship for the Cardinals, eventually honoured by being inducted into the Hall-of-Fame.

Video: Dizzy Dean highlight video

Dizzy Dean highlight video

7) Ozzie Smith

Smith earned 14 All-Star selections with St. Louis and is third on its all-time stolen base list with 433 swipes. Additionally, Smith excelled on defense; winning 11 Gold Glove awards while playing for Cardinals alone and an additional three overall.

He was a light-hitting shortstop, but his game-winning home run in the 1985 NLCS helped propel the Cardinals to the World Series. I think, like many that Ozzie Smith was the greatest shortstop of all time. Smith is considered one of the greatest shortstops of all time.

Video: PHI@STL: Ozzie Smith does back flip on Opening Day

PHI@STL: Ozzie Smith does back flip on Opening Day

6) Joe Medwick

Joe Medwick was a fearsome presence for much of his time playing left field for the St. Louis Cardinals during the 1930s National League era and earned seven all-star selections between 1934-40; including his unprecedented Triple Crown-winning season of 1937 when he led RBI, doubles, and World Series championship.

Medwock was selected to the Hall of Fame in 1968 and will forever be immortalized in Cardinals history not only as an all-time great but also as an all-time fan favourite.

Video: Joe Medwick (1911-1975)

Joe Medwick (1911-1975)

5) Lou Brock

Lou Brock played a critical role in helping lead the St. Louis Cardinals to two World Series victories in 1964 and 1967. What made trading for Brock even sweeter for the Cardinals was that they acquired him from Chicago in one of baseball’s most one-sided deals. Cubs fans will never live that trade down.

At 888 stolen bases, Brock is second all-time in stolen bases behind Rickey Henderson and second in hits as a Cardinal only behind only Stan Musial; he held the all-time stolen base record for close to twenty years. The Cardinals have honored his number 20 jersey by retiring it.

Video: Brock for Broglio: Days That Changed Cardinals History | St. Louis Cardinals

Brock for Broglio: Days That Changed Cardinals History | St. Louis Cardinals

4) Bob Gibson

Gibson earned two Cy Young Awards (in 1968 and 1970), the National League MVP Award (in 1968) and World Series MVP awards (1964 and 1967). Additionally, Gibson amassed 9 Gold Glove awards during his career, making him one of the greatest fielding pitchers ever seen on the baseball field.

Gibson spent his entire 17-season career with the Cardinals and was one of the most feared dominating pitchers ever. 1970 was Gibson at his best – 23-7 with a 3.12 ERA, 133 ERA+, 2.29 FIP, 1.190 WHIP, 274 strikeouts, 23 complete games and a 9.8 fWAR. Gibson’s 1968 seasons was considered one of the most dominating seasons by a pitcher.

Video: Unmasking the Terrifying MLB Legend: Bob Gibson's Intimidating Pitching

Unmasking the Terrifying MLB Legend: Bob Gibson’s Intimidating Pitching

3) Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols made an unforgettable debut in 2001 and demonstrated one of the greatest, if not the greatest, rookie seasons ever seen in baseball history. Pujols started his Cardinal career by appearing in all but one of their games at age 21, slashing.329/.403/.610 with 37 homers, 130 RBI, and 47 doubles to earn himself the National League Rookie of the Year Award.

From there on out, his success was nothing short of extraordinary. At his prime in St. Louis, few hitters could match him as a threat at bat – three MVP awards and representation in 10 midsummer classics during his Cardinal career were testament to this fact. Pujols was honored with multiple accolades, including winning the 2003 batting title, two Gold Gloves, six Silver Slugger awards and leading his Cardinals team to World Series championship victories in 2006 and 2011.

After leaving St. Louis in 2011 as a free agent to join the Angels, it was amazing to watch him return as a Cardinal and finish out his career here a decade later, hitting his 700th homer for this franchise and becoming one of its legends in 2022. Pujols will surely earn himself a spot in Cooperstown – no Cardinal player will ever wear number five again!

Video: Albert Pujols Career Highlights (One of the GOATs retires from MLB after hitting his 700th homer)

Albert Pujols Career Highlights (One of the GOATs retires from MLB after hitting his 700th homer)

2) Rogers Hornsby

Rogers Hornsby made his Cardinals debut as a 19-year-old, yet few could predict the astounding career he would go on to have. Winning six batting titles with St Louis (including three over 400 hits), twice leading home runs and RBI counts respectively; winning two Triple Crowns; leading doubles four times out of five; leading National League doubles twice; triples once; his 13-year slash line as Cardinal was an unbelievable.359/.427/.568 which must surely have been an error;

The Texas native helped St Louis win a World Series victory in 1925 before entering Cooperstown in 1942; he entered as the greatest second baseman in Baseball history.

Video: Rogers Hornsby Highlights

Rogers Hornsby Highlights

1) Stan Musial

Musial is easily one of the greatest players in franchise history. Stan the Man won three National League MVPs during his 24 seasons with the Cardinals; Musial earned seven batting titles before retiring. As an all-time Cardinal leader he holds all these records: fWAR (125.3), offensive WAR (125.6), hits (3,630), runs scored (1,949), total bases (6134), singles (2253), doubles (725), triples (177) home runs (475), extra-base hits (1 377) RBIs (1 951).

No doubt exists that Stan the Man is the Greatest Cardinals player of all time and one of the greatest ever to play the game.

Video: Stan Musial Highlights

Stan Musial Highlights

Honorable Mentions

Ken Boyer

Boyer was named 1964 National League MVP while spending 11 seasons with the Cardinals. During that time, he made seven All-Star teams and five Gold Glove awards, although perhaps not quite Hall-of-Fame worthy due to a limited playing career; nevertheless, they retired his number 14 in 1984.

Vince Coleman

Coleman is widely considered one of baseball’s all-time great base stealers. Over six seasons with the Cardinals, Coleman managed to notch an astounding 549 stolen bases!In 1985, he earned the Rookie of the Year honor after stealing 110 bases over three seasons wearing a Cardinal uniform.At any point in a game, he was sure to steal second base upon reaching first.

Curt Flood

Flood was an outstanding defensive centerfielder for the Cardinals, earning Gold Gloves each year from 1963 to 1969. He was integral to two World Series championships (1964 and 1967). Perhaps his most significant impact on baseball was his role in developing free agency. After the 1969 season, Flood rejected his trade. Although he lost in court, Flood laid the foundation for future generations of players to follow in his footsteps.

Willie McGee

McGee was beloved among fans in St. Louis and enjoyed some of his most successful years while playing for the Cardinals. As a rookie in 1982, he was part of the Cardinals’ World Series championship squad. He won the MVP award in 1985 after hitting 353 with ten homers, 82 RBI, and 56 stolen bases. He played for the Cardinals from 1982 until 1990, then returned in 1996-1999 to cap off an extraordinary career.

Bruce Sutter

Sutter only played four seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals; yet his No. 42 jersey has been honored and retired by the team. Sutter earned his place on this list for his heroic saves in the 1982 World Series against the Brewers! One such game was Game 7, giving the Cardinals their series victory. Sutter saved 127 games with the Cardinals and is widely considered one of baseball’s all-time great closers.

Adam Wainwright

Adam Wainwright launched his career with the St. Louis Cardinals as an effective late-inning reliever, playing an integral part in helping them win the 2006 World Series during his rookie campaign. St. Louis decided to incorporate him into their rotation the following season, and that’s when his meteoric rise began. Wainwright only trails Bob Gibson in wins for a Cardinals pitcher.

Red Schoendienst

Red was another beloved Cardinal who spent decades as a player and manager/coach in their organization.He played for the Cardinals during their 1946 World Series run and later guided them to victory as a manager in 1967.

As a Cardinal, he amassed over 1,000 runs and placed sixth on their all-time hit list. When you think of iconic Cardinals Red is one of the first players thought of for older generations.

 

 

 

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