The St. Louis Cardinals are off to another hot start in 2012 thanks to their pitching and a solid offense. They are currently in first place and are one of just two teams in the Central with a winning record.
The Cardinals were known for their dominance of the Central winning six division titles. They made it to the World Series three times and won it twice. They have had a wining record since 2000 every year except 2007.
In this article, I will be taking a look at who had the best year at each position. This is not about who the best overall player was at each position during the 2000's, but which player had the best season. I am also including 2010-2011 as part of the 2000's in this article.
2011 Stats: .305 average, 14 home runs, 64 RBI
Yadier Molina had one of his most productive offensive seasons in 2011 helping the Cardinals to their 11th World Series title.
He set many records for himself last year and was one of the reasons the Cardinals made it to the World Series. He set personal records for runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, average, slugging and OPS.
He won his fourth consecutive Gold Glove award and was selected as the very first winner of the Rawlings' Platinum Glove award given to the league's most outstanding catcher. He played in his third straight All-Star game last year.
Molina had a busy and productive year in 2011 and that makes him the top candidate for best Cardinals offensive catcher for the 2000's.
2006 Stats: .331 average, 49 home runs, 137 RBI
What more can be said about the year Pujols had in 2006? He set many personal records en route to his first World Series title and the Cardinals' 10th championship.
Pujols hit a career high 49 home runs that season and finished second in MVP voting to Ryan Howard. He made his fourth straight All-Star game (fifth overall) and also won his first Gold Glove.
This may have been Pujols' best offensive year of his career but he did not win any major awards besides his Gold Glove because of Ryan Howard's breakout season.
I don't think he or the Cardinals fans were too disappointed, because they won the World Series after a 24-year drought.
2001 Stats: .301 average, 191 hits, 56 RBI
There weren't many standout second baseman to come through the organization in the aughts, but what the Cardinals did get were players who came to play everyday and produced on a consistent basis.
Fernando Vina was one of them, and in 2001, he had one of his best seasons as a Cardinal. Vina was solid in the batter's box and on the field. He won his first Gold Glove award and led the team in hits (191). He did all of this at the age of 32 and would retire three years later.
Vina also led the team in runs scored and his production earns him the second base position for the Cardinals All-Decade team.
2003 Stats: .330 average, 13 home runs, 100 RBI
Renteria has been on seven different teams in his life and never had a better season than 2003. The Cardinals missed the postseason that year, which was a shame since this was one of the most productive Cardinal teams of the 2000's and Renteria was right in the mix of it.
Renteria had a great season batting .330, collecting 194 hits (47 of which were doubles), reached 100 RBI for the first time in his career and stole a team high 34 bases.
On top of all that he was voted to his third All-Star Game and won his second straight Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award (third overall).
Renteria wins the top spot for shortstop in a landslide.
2004 Stats: .314 average, 34 home runs, 124 RBI
Scott Rolen helped the Cardinals reach the postseason not only with his bat, but also with his glove.
He set personal records for home runs and RBI that year and his glove was sensational. He won his fifth consecutive Gold Glove (sixth overall), made his third straight All-Star Game and came fourth in NL MVP voting.
It was a historic year for Rolen and just like most players who had outstanding seasons in 04, it was all lost but not forgotten after a four-game sweep in the World Series against the Red Sox.
Rolen takes the top spot for third base.
2003 Stats: .359 average, 43 home runs, 124 RBI
Albert Pujols holds many Cardinals records, and now he holds two spots on this list.
In 2003 Pujols set career highs in hits and average. This year was the only time in his career when the slugger had 200-plus hits and a batting average over .350.
Pujols made his second All-Star Game and also won the Hank Aaron award and 2003 Major League Player of the Year. He finished second in the MVP race, which marks the second time he has been on this list without having won the MVP that year.
There have been other players at this position that are well deserving of this award and I know most fans will not appreciate Pujols being on this list twice, but what he did that year was remarkable and for that he gets the top left fielder spot.
2004 Stats: .301 average, 42 home runs, 111 RBI
Jim Edmonds had one of the most memorable years in Cardinals history in 2004. Not only did he have a great regular season, but it got even better once he hit the playoffs.
During the regular season, he tied his career record for home runs with 42 and set a record with 111 RBI. He won his seventh consecutive Gold Glove award while also taking home his first and only Silver Slugger Award.
His season got even better once the Cardinals reached the NLCS. Facing elimination in the bottom of the 12th inning with the score tied at four, Edmonds blasted a two-run walk-off homer to send the Cardinals to Game 7 and a chance to reach the World Series.
In Game 7, Edmonds made an outstanding diving catch in the second inning to save two runs, and the Cardinals would eventually prevail over the Astros to reach the World Series. Edmonds only had one hit in the Fall Classic as St. Louis was swept by a hungry Boston Red Sox team.
Despite that effort, Edmonds easily walks away with the top spot.
2011 Stats: .301 average, 31 home runs, 94 RBI
It was hard to decide between Ryan Ludwick of 2008 or Lance Berkman of 2011, but I figured since the 2008 season saw the Cardinals finishing in fourth in the Central while they won the World Series last year, the choice was fairly obvious. I gave the spot to Berkman because of his stellar offense which helped the Cardinals to their second World Series title in five years.
2009-2010 were off years for Berkman traveling between Houston and New York. When he settled with the Cardinals he had a younger Berkman-esque season.
He made his first All-Star Game since 2008 and it was his sixth overall. He also took home the NL Comeback Player of the Year award.
His clutch hitting in the postseason was the key reason why the Cardinals won the World Series. Berkman takes home the top right field spot for the Cardinals.
2005 Stats: 21-5, 2.38 ERA, 213 strikeouts
It had been 35 years since the Cardinals had a Cy Young winner and in 2005, Carpenter came through for the fans. Carp beat out Dontrelle Willis for his first and only Cy Young award.
He won a career-high 25 games and also set records for complete games, shutouts and strikeouts.
He also pitched well in the postseason, giving up just five runs in 21 innings pitched. He made his first All-Star Game in 2005 while also taking home the NL TSN Pitcher of the Year Award.
If Adam Wainwright had won a Cy Young in either of his last two seasons, he would be on this list. But it was not meant to be, so Chris Carpenter takes the top spot.
2004 Stats: 4-2, 2.87 ERA, 47 saves
Isringhausen has his best year in 2004, tying a team record with 47 saves in one season. He posted a 2.87 ERA and recorded 71 strikeouts in his 75.1 innings of work.
He didn't win any major awards, but he did win the hearts of Cardinals fans.
Isringhausen had a historical year for the Cardinals and he wins the top closer spot for the 2000's.