St. Louis Cardinals Top 25 All-Time Greatest Players

 

This project, St.Louis Cardinals Top 25 Greatest Players, will get the readers ire because they have different ideas, agendas and personal bias toward certain players. No players on the 2022 Cardinals active roster are included on this list.

I am attempting to do this through statistics with a little bit of bias. So, here we go we the St.Louis Cardinals Top 25

St. Louis Cardinals Top 25- #25-21

Coming in at #25 is Joe Torre. He was a member of the Birds on the Bat from 1969-1974. He made his major league debut with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves on September 25, 1960. Then before the 1969 season began, Torre got into a salary dispute with the management group and was traded to the Cardinals for the 1967 MVP, Orlando Cepeda.

He was their everyday catcher for two seasons and then moved over to third base to make room for Ted Simmons behind the plate in 1971. Hew as named to the All Star game in 1971 and finished with 137 runs bated in and won a batting title with a .363 average. He was an All Star again in 1972 but shortly there after began a decline in batting skills and the Cardinals traded him to the New York Mets and had several good season with them.

St Louis Cardinals Top 25 continues as #24 goes to Slim Sallee. He was born in 1885 and made his debut on April 16,1908 with the Cardinals organization. He played for eight seasons in St Louis and had compiled a 174–143 record in 476 appearances, with a 2.56 earned run average and 836 strikeouts. In Cardinals’ franchise history, Sallee ranks 3rd all-time in earned run average (2.67), 7th in innings pitched (1905.1), 8th in games started (215) and wins (106,, and 7th in losses (107).

Chick Hafey is in at #23. He is known as the first player to get a hit in an All Star game . He played left field and batted fourth for the National League in 1933. He was a big part of the World Series winners in 1926  and 1931 for the Cardinals.  He won the NL batting title in 1931 with a .349 average. In 1971, Hafey was selected for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In 2014, the Cardinal inducted him into their team hall of fame

Jason Isringhausen is at the #22 on the list. He was born and raised near St Louis and when he became a free agent, the Cardinal signed him for the 2002 season. He helped the team win the Central Division in 2002,2004,2005 and 2006. He pitched in the 2004 and  2006 World Series. In 2004, he led the National League with 47 saves and became an All Star in 2005 finishing with 39 saves along with a 2.24 ERA.

Frankie Frisch in #21. In 1931, he was named MVP after hitting .311 and 82 runs batted in along with 28 stolen bases and helped the team to World Series Champion. He played for 11 seasons on St Louis and was named player-manager of the team in 1933. The following year he guided the Cardinals become World Series champs by defeating the Detroit Tigers.

Frisch hung his playing spikes after the 1937 season and finished with a .316 average, 2880 hits,366 double 105 home runs, 1532 runs  and 1244 RBI’s in 2,311 games. He hit .300 for his career from both sides of the plate.

St.Louis Cardinals Top 25- #20-16

We present to you Willie McGee at #20 on the St. Louis Cardinals Top 25 list. Willie was named National League MVP in 1985 and won two batting titles in his career. He was primarily a speedy center fielder most of his 18 year career. A four-time All-Star, McGee accumulated 2,254 hits during his career.In the 1982 postseason,he had a  performance in Game 3 of the 1982 World Series ranks among the best in Series history.

Among his 79 career home runs McGee connected for two home runs and also delivered a spectacular defensive play in center field, capped by a leaping snare of a would-be 9th-inning Gorman Thomas home run that secured the Cardinals 6–2 victory.His lifetime batting average is .295 He later became a coach for the Cardinals.

Moving to #19 we find the talented Ozzie Smith. Known for his spectacular defensive abilities, Ozzie also contributed with the bat. His nickname was the “Wizard of Oz” and he received `3 consecutive gold gloves at shortstop and he was name to the All Star team 15 times.Smith accumulated 2,460 hits and 580 stolen bases. In 2002, he was selected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Also, he was selected the the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014.

Cardinals Top 25

You can’t have a St.Louis Cardinals Top 25 list without Jim Edmonds at #18 on the list. He played for the Cardinals for even season and it is likely that 2004 was his best season in baseball.He hit .301 and smacked 42 home runs and drove in 111 runs with a ,643 slugging percentage. He got a Silver Slugger Award, a Gold Glove and was fifth in voting for the National League MVP.

He was part of what writers called MV3 with teammates, Scott Rolen and Albert Pujols. He had was a phenomenal outfielder with many unbelievable plays in the outfield. He won the Gold Glove Award eight times.

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Mort Cooper slides in at #17 on the list. On September 14,1938, Cooper made his major league debut in a Cardinal uniform. Here is the box score for that game. In his rookie year he posted a 12-6 record and went on to help the Cardinals to win the World Series in 1942 and 1944. His best season may have been in 1942 when he won 22 games and had 10 shutouts along with a 1.78 ERA. He was also name NL MVP that season.

Johnny Mize is #16 on the St. Louis Cardinal Top 25 All Time list. He made his debut as a first baseman on April 16,1936 as a Cardinal player. Five years of his fifteen year career came with Birds on the Bat uniform. He was an All-Star ten times and 5 time World Series Champ.

In 1939 he won the National League batting title and led the league in home runs 4 times along with 3 times leading the league in runs batted in. In 1981, he was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and in 2014 was named to the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame.

St.Louis Cardinals Top 25- #15-11

The countdown continues with #15 pitcher Chris Carpenter. For eight years 2004-2012, he wore the Cardinals uniform and was deemed a warrior in his approach to pitching. He became the ace of the staff in 2004. In 2005, he was named Cy Young Award winner and led the team to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He had a multitude of injuries but always got through them. He won 95 games for the Cardinals in 137 starts with a 3.07 ERA.He lead the major leagues in win percentage for the years he played in St. Louis.  In 18 postseason starts, he won 10 games with a 3.00 ERA over 108 innings. He was an All Star three times and won two Cy Young awards in his career.

Curt Flood is #14 on the All Time list. He played for the Cardinals for 11 seasons (1958-1969). He was a Gold Glove winner for seven seasons as a center fielder, All Star three times.In 1964 he had 211 hits which led the league and has the most singles in 1963,1964 and 1968.

Four times Curt Flood led the league in putouts from his center field position. Also, he lead all center fielders in fielding percentage three times. He is n the Cardinals Hall of Fame.

At #13 is Lou Brock.  He played 19 season of baseball and is the famous Brock-for Broglio deal which appears the Cardinals won that one in a big way.  In 1962 he began playing left field on a regular basis and broke the base staling records of Ty Cobb and Maury Wills.

He was named an All-Star six times and in 1974 was second in the MVP voting. He led the league four times in base stealing. In 1985, he was named to the Hall of Fame.

Moving on to #12 is Ken Boyer. He came through he Cardinals minor league system and made his major league debut in 1955. He played in St. Louis for ten seasons. He was an All Star for even seasons and NL MVP one time.He is a five time Gold Glove winners. In five seasons he hit over .300 and smacked over 20 homers for eight seasons.Five times he lead the National League in double plays.

When he retired he was the all-time leaders in games (sixth, 1,785), assists (sixth, 3,652) and double plays  (third, 355) at third base.

Cardinals Top 25At #11 on the Top 25 Cardinals we find Jim Bottomley. In 1974, he was selected to the Baseball of Fame. Making his debut in 1922 with the Cardinals, this big first baseman hit .325 in 37 games. The Cardinals had seen enough and named him starter in 1923 .

This St.Louis Cardinals Top 25 player hit .371 as a rookie and finished second in balloting to his teammate Rogers Hornsby as he finished at .384. Bottomley drove in 94 runs. The following season,1924, he hit .316  and on September 16,1924 set a major league record with 12 RBI’s in one game. Jim Bottomley finished with 111 runs batted in. He was always a pleasant person and was given the nickname of “Sunny Jim”.

 

St.Louis Cardinals Top 25- #10-6

Starting the Top Ten is #10 is Harry Brecheen. He made his debut on April 22, 1940 with the St.Louis Cardinals as a left handed pitcher. In the 1946 World Series, he became the first left-hander to ever win three games in a World Series. Also was the first pitcher ever to win consecutive World Series games.

In 1948, he led the Nationals League in seven pitching categories. He has a career earned run average in the World Series of 0.83.

In his career he finished with 133 wins against 92 losses and a 2.92 earned run average and 901 career strikeouts.

Cy Young is at #9. Although he only played to seasons in St Louis (1899-1900) he was 46-24 with a 2.74 ERA. I am looking more at his complete body of work. The major league records he holds are 511 career wins, 856 games started, 749 complete games,7356 innings pitched and 25.3 hitless innings pitched.

Other accolades include: 5 times ins leader, World Series Champ in 1903 and Triple Crown winner in 1901, Twice strikeout leader. Also, he three three no-hitters and threw a perfect game on May 5,1904. He was ERA leader in two seasons. He was named to the Major League All-Century Team.

Dizzy Dean is #8 on the Cardinals Top 25 list. He made his major league debut on September 28, 1930 and produced a 3-hitter for the win. He pitched well for the next few years but his bet game may have came on July 30,1933 when he struck out 17 batters in the first game of a doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs.

He had a colorful personality with loads of confidence which made him the center of attention every where he went. In 1934, he won 30 games for the “Gashouse Gang” in S.Louis and lead them to a World Series victory over the Detroit Tigers. He had a 30-7 record and a 2.66 ERA.

In 1953, he was selected for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Cardinals Top 25At #7 is Joe Medwick and made his debut on September 2, 1932 with the St Louis Cardinals. He played for them for eight years.He made his MLB debut with the Cardinals on July 25,1932. By 1934, he hit .319 with 18 home runs and 106 runs batted in. in 1936, he hit 40 doubles which is still a national league record.

He had seven consecutive season of 40 or more double in his career.In 1968, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.In 1937, he won the National League MVP and batting crown along with home run leader. He was named the Triple Crown winner in 1937. Ten times he was an All-Star. He was part of the 1934 World Series Champions. Three times he led the league in runs batted in. The Cardinals named him to their Hall Fame in the first year.

 

More St.Louis Cardinals Top 25 we have coming in at #6 is Ted Simmons also known as “Simba”. He made his major league debut on September 21, 1968 at the age of 18. He was a comparable to Johnny Bench except he lacked the power but hit for better average than Bench. In his first full season, 1971, Simmons hit .304 batting average with seven home runs and 77 RBIs.

He received vote on the MVP ballot that season. In 1972 he was a reserve on the All-Star team and completed the season ith a .303 batting average with 16 home runs and 96 runs batted in.

His defense improved and he had a .991 fielding percentage along with leading the league in assists and putouts. He was named to the Hall of Fame in 2020 and was an eight time All-Star and a Silver Slugger award winner in 1980.

 

St.Louis Cardinals Top 25- Top Five

Enos Slaughter slides in at #5. Enos “Country” Slaughter played 19 seasons in the major leagues with the majority of them in a Cardinals uniform. He was a left handed batter and three right handed. He was known as a contact hitter that had some speed.

For his career, He amassed 2,383 hits,169 home runs,1,034 RBI’s in 2,380 games. He was an All Star ten times and participated in ten World Series. He spent three years in the military during WWII. He is best known for his actions in the 1946 World Series against the Boston Red Sox.

In the decisive game of the series, Slaughter was on first base when Harry Walker was at-bat in the eighth inning. Slaughter took off and Walker hit what is described as a routine single, Slaughter made a “mad dash” around third base to attempt to score, Red Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky delayed his throw, never thinking he would try to score  and it was too late as Enos Slaughter scored from first base.

In 1999, the Sporting News named it the 10th best play in baseball. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.The Cardinals retired his jersey #9 in 1996 and they placed a statue that depicted the “Mad Dash” outside Busch Stadium II in 1999, In 2014, the Cardinals named him to their initial class to their Cardinal Hall of Fame.

Creeping closer we have Bob Gibson at #3 on the Cardinals Top 25 list. “Gibby” played 17 seasons in the major league and all of them were with the St. Louis Cardinals. Every time someone talked o him thy mentioned as a fierce competitor he was.For his career, Gibson produced 251 wins, amassed 3,17 strikeouts, and a 2.91 ERA. He as an All Star nine times,he won to Cy Young Awards, was two time World Series champion and in 1981 was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first eligible year.

The Cardinals retired his uniform number 45 in September 1975 and inducted him into the team Hall of Fame in 2014.

 

NOTE: Now we get serious. the difference between these next two players is really, really small.So… I had to choose criteria to break the stalemate and I choose longevity iwth the Cardinals organization. 

#2- Albert Pujols– made his major league debut on April 2, 2001 and never looked back, He was in a Cardinals uniform for ten seasons and then left for a bigger contract with the Anaheim Angels.

He was NL MVP three times with the Cardinals and a nine time All Star. His career batting average is at .297, he has 3,301 hit with 679 home runs and 2,150 run batted in. He was Rookie of the Year in 2001.

 

Top Dawg at #1 is Stan “The Man” Musial. He spent 22 years in baseball and all of them were with the St, Louis Cardinals. Stan was a consistent hitter,in fact, he finished with 3,630 hits and and exactly half of them 1,815 were hit at home and the other half on the road.

He completed his career and ended with  a ,33 batting average and 1,951 RBI’s,3,026 games played,10,972 at bats,1,949 runs scored and 725 doubles.

At the time of his retirement he had 475 home runs, was named MVP three times and played in three World Series championships. He co-shares most All-Star games played with 24 (tied with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays).

In February 2011, President Barack Obama presented Musial with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award that can be bestowed on a person by the United States government.

Stan Musial is the #1 player in St Louis Cardinals History.

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Thanks for reading the St. Louis Cardinals Top 25 Greatest Players!

About the author– Tom Knuppel has been writing about baseball and sports for a few decades. As an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan he began with the blog CardinalsGM. Tom is a member of the United Cardinals Bloggers and the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. He also maintains the History of Cardinals website. More recently he has been busy at KnupSolutions and the primary writer of many sports at KnupSports and adds content at Sports 2.0. Tom is a retired High School English and Speech teacher and has completed over one hundred sportsbook reviews. He also can be followed on Twitter at tknup.  Feel free to contact Tom at tknuppel@gmail.com

 

 

NOTES:

Who just missed this list? Scott Rolen was next.

Any second thoughts? Yes, I think Jim Bottomley is too high and could be considerably lower. Also, Mark McGwire was a concern with his admission to enhancing drugs but there is no way of knowing on other players particularly the old timers.

I didn’t include much from BC Before Cardinals. The pre-1900’s had two players I liked but omitted them. They were Ice Box Chamberlain and Arlie Latham.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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