This week, the St. Louis Cardinals panelists will discuss three historical questions.
1) If Albert Pujols were to keep up this pace, when he is retired, who will be considered the best Cardinal of all-time?
BW: As good as Stan "The Man" Musial was (in other words, one of the best players of all-time) I think, at this pace, Albert Pujols will be the best Cardinal of all-time. Pujols is simply too strong statistically, not to mention how great his defense is. I marvel each and every time Pujols walks to the dish, because, as a Cardinals fan, I expect greatness from No. 5.
JL: I consider the Cardinals' best-ever hitter to be Stan Musial, and it's obvious why. If Albert was able to keep up his current pace he would easily have more home runs and more RBI, but let's break it down a little further.
They both played their first full seasons at the same age, 21; they both made all-star teams at multiple positions, Musial at two and Pujols at three; and both played in completely different eras.
Statiscally, Musial would be better if you compare their first eight seasons: Musial had three MVPs, four batting titles, five OPS titles, five doubles titles, four triples titles, one RBI title and six runs created titles. His career numbers are tremendous, as well: 3,630 hits, 475 HRs and 1951 RBI.
But because the long ball is considered a lofty stat, and Pujols can stay healthy for another 10 seasons, he would more than likely go down as the best Cardinals hitter of all time.
In my opinion, home runs and RBI are great stats, but, as you can see, Musial did more than just get on base. He created a lot of runs, hit for an incredible average and even won seven OPS titles.
Sorry to be so long-winded on this answer, but I would take Musial at the point, but if Albert can stay healthy he could change all of that.
PF: I definitely project Pujols to be the best Cardinal of all-time. Although it would be tough to equal Stan Musial's longevity, he has put up much better numbers then Musial, per season, and should stay healthy enough to have a decently long career. He has already won a World Series, so his legacy is secure in the regard that he is a winner, and he has made his once-questionable defense an asset. Albert will most likely retire as the best to ever don the birds on the bat.
DC: I still consider Stan Musial the best of all-time, as far as the Cardinals are concerned. However, if he can keep himself healthy enough, I would put him right below Musial as the best Cardinal of all-time. I predict Pujols to get about 550-625 home runs. I do think that he, along with Alex Rodriguez, will add their names to the 600-home-run list.
2) What is your prediction for Colby Rasmus five years down the road?
BW: Although he struggled earlier this season, he has seemed to find his rhythm as of late in Triple-A. We already know how wonderful he can play the outfield. I'll give Rasmus a generous .285 BA, with 20 HR and 85 RBI.
JL: I'm excited to see what he can do when he gets to the majors full-time. While he's been tagged as a five-tool player, I see Rasmus being more of a combination of Jim Edmonds/Willie McGee—some power, some speed and great defense, with averages around 25 HR, 90 RBI, 25 SB along with a .300 BA.
PF: I predict Colby Rasmus to be starting somewhere in the Cardinals outfield in five years. Although Rasmus struggled to open the season, he has caught fire recently, raising his average over the .250 mark. He is a mature, talented prospect, and in 2013 at the ripe age of 25, Rasmus could already find himself a perennial All-Star.
DC: He's been their top prospect for a little while now. His 2007 season consisted of 29 homers with 72 RBI and 130 hits. Not to mention 18 steals. Very impressive for a minor leaguer. My prediction for Rasmus is that he WILL take over center field for the Cardinals, at least by next year. He's shown that he has power to all fields along with solid speed. Add in his defensive skills as a center fielder, he will show that he belongs. Within five years, I will predict that he will have at least one Gold Glove award and about 130 total home runs.
3) If you were to pick a current Cardinal not named Albert Pujols to start a franchise with, who would it be?
BW: I thought this was a decent question when I posed it to our panel, but now thinking about it, it's quite simple. I think the ace of the Cardinals staff in 2008, Adam Wainwright, will be the cornerstone for the Redbirds for a while. That said, I also wouldn't mind building my team around young catcher Yadier Molina. Wainwright will be an All-Star for many years to come, though, so there isn't much to say we shouldn't make him our franchise player behind Pujols.
JL: This is a good question because Albert is the man and the Cards have a lot of unknown, surprise-type players. Right now I would say Chris Duncan...just kidding. For me it would be Adam Wainwright. You can stop laughing now, Wainwright, when healthy, is the staple of the starting rotation.
This guy came in as a rookie and became the closer on the World Series team, started the next season and won 14 games on a mediocre team. This season he's on pace to win 13 games.
That doesn't sound like a lot, but he's a good solid young pitcher and, once he has another full season under his belt, he could easily win 18-20 games. Plus, like my father taught me a long time ago, good pitching almost always beats good hitting.
PF: I would start my franchise with Adam Wainwright. Wainwright is still relatively young at 26, has incredible makeup and poise, and has already had great success in the playoffs. He's not just a good pitcher, but a smart pitcher. He'll be great for years to come.
If I had to pick a position player, I'd pick Yadier Molina. This guy is the best defensive catcher in the game, regardless of the terrible Gold Glove voting, and also carries a pretty big stick for a catcher. Both would be great cornerstones at valuable positions.
DC: I'm going to go into left field on this one and say Chris Carpenter. Pitching wins championships, and Carpenter has shown that, when healthy, he's nearly unbeatable. I would definitely want a true pitching ace to build my team around because I believe that any winning ball club starts with good, solid starting pitching.
I would like to thank all the panelists for helping publish this Roundtable. We look forward to some great feedback!