NOTE: The BND has endeavored to identify an objective list of the top 100 St. Louis Cardinals players of all time, based on statistical formulas developed through sabermetrics. We’ll count down the list daily, player by player, until April 4, the day of the Cardinals’ 2019 home opener. The running list and player bios can be found at bnd.com.
NO. 89: 2B TOM HERR
Tom Herr played the keystone position on the field through 13 major league seasons. For two pennant-winning years in the 1980s, the second baseman also held the keystone position in the Cardinals’ batting order.
In addition to being a sure-handed and rangy double-play partner for shortstop Ozzie Smith, Herr batted mostly leadoff or second for St. Louis’ World Series winner in 1982.
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But with fleet-footed base thieves Vince Coleman and Willie McGee occupying the top two spots in the lineup in ‘85, manager Whitey Herzog needed a three-hole hitter who had enough control at the plate to let the rabbits run and still be an RBI threat when protecting the runners left him behind in the count.
That was Herr, a contact specialist who walked more times than he struck out over more than 6,000 career plate appearances.
It all came together in 1985. With slugger Jack Clark protecting him in the cleanup spot, the switch-hitting Herr reached career highs in almost every offensive statistical category, including his .302 average 38 doubles and eight home runs.
His team-leading 110 RBIs, however, 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.
Herr stole 31 bases that year, too, which helped him score a career-high 97 runs. He finished fifth in MVP voting behind McGee, the NL’s batting champion. The Cardinals won 101 games and came within one disastrous inning of defeating the Kansas City Royals in a seven-game World Series.
Though not quite as explosive as that ‘85 team, Herzog’s Running Redbirds won another league championship two years later, with Herr again facilitating things from the third spot in the order. He drove in 83 runs and scored 73 with the benefit of just two home runs.
Herr hit just 28 home runs during his career, but his walk-off grand slam against the hated New York Mets on seat cushion night in 1987 goes down in Cardinals’ lore.
Three weeks into the 1988 season, the Cardinals traded Herr to the Minnesota Twins for Tom Brunansky, who hit 20 or more home runs eight times in his career, but never drove in more than 90 in a season.
SEASONS IN ST. LOUIS: 1979-1988
.274 avg. in St. Louis | 3x NL Champ | 1 WS ring
TOP 100 SCORE: 2.21