April 06, 2022

Top 20 Cardinals of All Time

It’s baseball time! After an owner lockout threatened to derail the season, Cardinals baseball returns on Thursday, April 7 against the Pirates. With Albert Pujols re-joining Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, all of whom are nearing the end of their careers, we figured it was time for a full-on nostalgia tour, counting down the 20 greatest Cardinals of all time. Honorable mention to greats who didn’t make the list: Scott Rolen, Harry Brecheen, Frankie Frisch, Chris Carpenter, Jesse Haines, and Bill White.
Scroll down to view images
Tie: 20. Willie McGee (1982-90, 1996-99): McGee first won over Cardinals fans by slugging two home runs and robbing one defensively in Game 3 of the 1982 World Series. He went on to win two batting titles and an MVP. His humility endeared him to a Cardinals fan base that showered him with standing ovations for four years following his return in 1996. -Brandon Dahl
Photo credit: Flickr / @buzbeto
Tie: 20. Willie McGee (1982-90, 1996-99): McGee first won over Cardinals fans by slugging two home runs and robbing one defensively in Game 3 of the 1982 World Series. He went on to win two batting titles and an MVP. His humility endeared him to a Cardinals fan base that showered him with standing ovations for four years following his return in 1996. -Brandon Dahl

Tie: 20. Keith Hernandez (1974-83): Before gaining wider fame from his roles with the Pond Scum Mets and Seinfeld, Hernandez put together a solid decade in red. Widely considered one of the greatest defensive first basemen in history, Hernandez earned the first five of his 11 Gold Gloves with the Cardinals. He led the league in batting (.344) during his MVP season in 1979, and delivered a clutch game-tying hit in Game 7 of the 1982 World Series, on his birthday. -Brandon Dahl
Photo credit: Flickr / @slgc
Tie: 20. Keith Hernandez (1974-83): Before gaining wider fame from his roles with the Pond Scum Mets and Seinfeld, Hernandez put together a solid decade in red. Widely considered one of the greatest defensive first basemen in history, Hernandez earned the first five of his 11 Gold Gloves with the Cardinals. He led the league in batting (.344) during his MVP season in 1979, and delivered a clutch game-tying hit in Game 7 of the 1982 World Series, on his birthday. -Brandon Dahl

19. Jim Bottomley (1922-32): Sunny Jim played first base for the first two Cardinals World Series winners and ranked among the MLB’s top ten in offensive production during his eleven years wearing the Birds on the Bat, as well as winning MVP in 1928. In 1924 he amassed six hits and 12 RBI in a single game. The RBI record, equaled by Cardinals rightfielder Mark Whiten in 1993, still stands. -Brandon Dahl
Photo credit: Flickr @joncutrer
19. Jim Bottomley (1922-32): Sunny Jim played first base for the first two Cardinals World Series winners and ranked among the MLB’s top ten in offensive production during his eleven years wearing the Birds on the Bat, as well as winning MVP in 1928. In 1924 he amassed six hits and 12 RBI in a single game. The RBI record, equaled by Cardinals rightfielder Mark Whiten in 1993, still stands. -Brandon Dahl

18. Johnny Mize (1936-41): Big Cat spent only the first six seasons of his accomplished career in St. Louis, but his offensive achievements are robust, including leading the league in OPS and total bases for three consecutive seasons, and five top-ten MVP finishes. Mize’s 1.018 OPS is third highest in franchise history, while his 43 home runs in 1940 stood as the franchise record until 1998. -Brandon Dahl
Photo credit: Flickr / @ross6606
18. Johnny Mize (1936-41): Big Cat spent only the first six seasons of his accomplished career in St. Louis, but his offensive achievements are robust, including leading the league in OPS and total bases for three consecutive seasons, and five top-ten MVP finishes. Mize’s 1.018 OPS is third highest in franchise history, while his 43 home runs in 1940 stood as the franchise record until 1998. -Brandon Dahl

17. Ray Lankford (1990-2001, 2004): Lankford’s combination of power, speed, batting eye, and longevity place him in the top 10 of several franchise offensive categories, including runs scored, home runs, runs batted in, bases on balls, stolen bases, and total bases. When Busch II fell to the wrecking ball, Lankford was the ballpark’s all-time home runs leader. A favorite jumbotron highlight was Lankford barreling over Phillies catcher Darren Daulton in 1991. -Brandon Dahl
Photo credit: Flickr / @rocor
17. Ray Lankford (1990-2001, 2004): Lankford’s combination of power, speed, batting eye, and longevity place him in the top 10 of several franchise offensive categories, including runs scored, home runs, runs batted in, bases on balls, stolen bases, and total bases. When Busch II fell to the wrecking ball, Lankford was the ballpark’s all-time home runs leader. A favorite jumbotron highlight was Lankford barreling over Phillies catcher Darren Daulton in 1991. -Brandon Dahl

16. Joe Medwick (1932-40, 1947-48): A mainstay of the 1930s Gashouse Gang, “Ducky” set the National League record for doubles in a season with 64 in 1936, a mark that stands today. His follow-up act was the 1937 MVP and the National League’s last Triple Crown as he led the league with 31 home runs, 154 runs batted in, and a .374 batting average. -Brandon Dahl
Photo credit: Flickr / @fdrlibrary
16. Joe Medwick (1932-40, 1947-48): A mainstay of the 1930s Gashouse Gang, “Ducky” set the National League record for doubles in a season with 64 in 1936, a mark that stands today. His follow-up act was the 1937 MVP and the National League’s last Triple Crown as he led the league with 31 home runs, 154 runs batted in, and a .374 batting average. -Brandon Dahl

15. Jim Edmonds (2000-07): Having made perhaps the greatest catch in baseball history not known as “The Catch,” Edmonds was incredibly productive both offensively and defensively, a member of the Cardinals’ mid-aughts MV3 tandem, along with Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen. Possessing a left-handed swing as sweet as his centerfield dives, Edmonds perhaps did not achieve the counting stats required by some Hall of Fame voters, though many argue he deserves enshrinement. -Ben Westhoff
Photo credit: Flickr / @buzbeto
15. Jim Edmonds (2000-07): Having made perhaps the greatest catch in baseball history not known as “The Catch,” Edmonds was incredibly productive both offensively and defensively, a member of the Cardinals’ mid-aughts MV3 tandem, along with Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen. Possessing a left-handed swing as sweet as his centerfield dives, Edmonds perhaps did not achieve the counting stats required by some Hall of Fame voters, though many argue he deserves enshrinement. -Ben Westhoff

14. Al “Red” Schoendienst (Player: 1945-56, 1961-1963; Manager: 1965-76, 1980, 1990): The redhead from Germantown, IL, took his last 25 cents to an open tryout in St. Louis in 1942, and wore the Birds on the Bat longer than anyone in franchise history. Red was recognized as one of the best second basemen of his era, earning ten All-Star selections and leading the league in fielding percentage seven times. Red remained in uniform for more than 60 years as a World Series winning player, manager, and coach. -Brandon Dahl
Photo credit: CREDIT Photo credit: Flickr / @ouji
14. Al “Red” Schoendienst (Player: 1945-56, 1961-1963; Manager: 1965-76, 1980, 1990): The redhead from Germantown, IL, took his last 25 cents to an open tryout in St. Louis in 1942, and wore the Birds on the Bat longer than anyone in franchise history. Red was recognized as one of the best second basemen of his era, earning ten All-Star selections and leading the league in fielding percentage seven times. Red remained in uniform for more than 60 years as a World Series winning player, manager, and coach. -Brandon Dahl

13. Curt Flood (1958-69): Flood’s perennial Gold Glove defense in centerfield helped land him in the top 25 of MVP balloting each year from 1963-1968. His impact on the game was most significant away from the diamond, however; following an unwanted trade to the Phillies in 1969, Flood challenged baseball’s reserve clause all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. He lost the decision — and his career never regained its footing — but Flood’s sacrifice ultimately paved the way for free agency in baseball. -Brandon Dahl
13. Curt Flood (1958-69): Flood’s perennial Gold Glove defense in centerfield helped land him in the top 25 of MVP balloting each year from 1963-1968. His impact on the game was most significant away from the diamond, however; following an unwanted trade to the Phillies in 1969, Flood challenged baseball’s reserve clause all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. He lost the decision — and his career never regained its footing — but Flood’s sacrifice ultimately paved the way for free agency in baseball. -Brandon Dahl

12. Enos Slaughter (1938-53): “Country” Slaughter’s style of play was typified by his “Mad Dash” in Game 7 of the 1946 World Series, scoring from first base on a single to plate the decisive Series run. Ten consecutive All-Star appearances preceded a 1954 trade to the Yankees which left him in tears. Slaughter’s legacy is tarnished by allegations he intentionally spiked Jackie Robinson and threatened to boycott the integrated Dodgers in 1947. Slaughter adamantly denied both until his passing. -Brandon Dahl
Photo credit: Flickr / @yercombe
12. Enos Slaughter (1938-53): “Country” Slaughter’s style of play was typified by his “Mad Dash” in Game 7 of the 1946 World Series, scoring from first base on a single to plate the decisive Series run. Ten consecutive All-Star appearances preceded a 1954 trade to the Yankees which left him in tears. Slaughter’s legacy is tarnished by allegations he intentionally spiked Jackie Robinson and threatened to boycott the integrated Dodgers in 1947. Slaughter adamantly denied both until his passing. -Brandon Dahl