Over the past few years, the Cardinals have taken in many players whose careers seemed to be heading anywhere but up. These players were not getting any younger and seemed like they were coming to an end of their prime. In all cases it has turned around and they have now called St. Louis home ever since.
What makes players who come to St. Louis hit better?
Is it the roaring crowd during every home game? Is it the atmosphere of being in baseball heaven? Is it the feeling of knowing all the great players that have come before you and now you want to be like them? Whatever it is, when players join the Cardinals, it seems like they go right back into their prime.
The first player that bounced back right into his prime was Lance Berkman.
Berkman was traded to the Yankees back in 2010 where he played in just 37 games and hit only one home run. In 2011, the Cardinals signed Lance Berkman hoping that he could produce some runs for the team. At his age, they were not expecting a whole lot and definitely not the production he ultimately did have.
Berkman ended up playing in 145 games, hit 31 home runs, and drove in 94 while hitting .301. Those stats were reminiscent of his prime back with Houston and he was doing this for the Cardinals at the age of 35. Berkman went on to win NL Comeback Player of the Year and helped the Cardinals win their 11th title and his first.
The second example of this turn around would be Rafael Furcal.
Furcal is now in his first full season with the Cardinals after joining the team halfway through the season last year. Furcal is second in the batting race with a .383 average. He has also already hit two home runs and stolen six bases.
In his later years with the Dodgers, Furcal did not play in many games, which led to low numbers of production. After being traded to the Cardinals, he was still not producing as well as he hoped but now in his first full season, he has gotten into the swing of things. At 34 years of age, he is playing as he did back when he was with the Braves.
The third and most exciting example is Carlos Beltran.
Beltran right now is on pace to have a monster season and he has helped the Cardinals to first place in the Central. Beltran leads the National League in home runs and RBI.
He has been the highlight for the Cardinals this year.
He already has three multi-home run games and we are only two months into the season. He has always had power but it looked like he was on a decline from 2009 to now, but ever since he joined the Cardinals he has gotten the pop back in his bat.
I hope that he can continue this torrid pace late into the season as he looks to be the early favorite for NL Comeback Player of the Year, or even the NL MVP.