I've recently thought quite a bit about how lucky we are as Cardinals fans to have seen so many great teams and players in our history.
The Sporting News-Confirmed this today when it released it's all decade list for the first 10 years of the 21st century and Albert Pujols was tabbed as the top player in all of baseball from 2000-2009. No small feat.
If you really want to get a perspective on Cardinals greatness, check out mlb.com's All Time Nine balloting. In case you aren't familiar, the idea is to choose the greatest lineup in the history of Major League Baseball teams by position. It's broken down by season by season. You pick the player who had the best year at first, second, third... etc.
Anyway, if you click on the Cardinals page and check out the options then compare them against what some of the other teams have to offer, it's staggering. I know Tampa is only an expansion team. But Miguel Cairo is on its list of all-time greatest second basemen, for crying out loud.
Just look at the Cardinals first basemen to get an idea of how lucky St. Louis fans have been over the years:
1928 Jim Bottomley .325, 31HR, 136RBI
1967 Orlando Cepeda .325, 25HR, 111RBI
1934 Ripper Collins .333, 35HR, 138RBI
1979 Keith Hernandez .344, 11HR, 105RBI
1998 Mark McGwire .299, 70HR, 147RBI
1940 Johnny Mize .314, 43HR, 137RBI
2006 Albert Pujols .336, 49HR, 137RBI
1964 Bill White .303, 21HR, 103RBI
Cardinals legend Stan Musial, center, watches a fly ball with his teammates.
With the exception of the 1950s and the 198s, the Cardinals have a first baseman to anchor the line-up in every decade going back 90 years. And the only reason they don't have one in the 1950s is because they only list Stan Musial under the outfielders. I think his 1957 season when he hit .351 with 29 homers and 102 RBIs is worthy of consideration. The only reason Jack Clark's .287, 35HR, 106RBI 1987 season didn't make the cut was that the bar was just so high.
My all-time Cardinals team:
LF 1974 Lou Brock .306, 3HR, 48RBI, 118SB
CF 1985 Willie McGee .353, 10HR, 82RBI, 56SB
RF 1948 Stan Musial .376, 39HR, 141RBI
2B 1922 Rogers Hornsby .401, 42HR, 152RBI
1B 2006 Albert Pujols .336, 49HR, 137RBI
3B 2004 Scott Rolen .314, 34HR, 124RBI
C 1975 Ted Simmons .322, 25HR, 100RBI
SS 1987 Ozzie Smith .303, 0HR, 75HR
Juggle the lineup if you want. It probably doesn't matter. There is so much firepower that it's silly. That's why, even though you could find a better offensive season for a Cardinals shortstop, you have to have Ozzie Smith's glove in the mix. As a matter of fact, I would probably trade Ozzie's late career offensive improvement for his 1982 era lower batting average when he had a better throwing arm and was at the maximum of his range.
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