This is my starting 9 for my all-time St. Louis Cardinals lineup. I have also listed my 9 worst Cardinals. The worst Cardinals are mostly recent, so any suggestions are helpful. Here's my take:
C: Ted Simmons (6 All Star games, 12 years, 172 HR, 929 RBI's, .298 BA) - Before Whitey Herzog traded away Simmons for not cutting his hair (possibly one of the worst reasons of all-time), Simmons was much beloved by Cardinal fans for being an all-around good athlete and person (played football and baseball at Michigan). Simmons' replacement (Darrell "The Drunk" Porter) was liked by some, hated by others, but was definitely never the steady rock behind the plate for the Cardinals that Simmons was.
Un-honorable mention: Darrell Porter- The Cardinals have consistently had good catchers (see Matheny, Molina, even Pagnozzi), even Porter put up good stats, but it was his excessive drug and alcohol abuse that make him so un-honorable. Porter's fast-lane life sadly lead to his demise as he died in 2002 in a car crash in which cocaine was found in his system. That is just not the way a Cardinals catcher that won two WS should go out.
1B: Albert Pujols (1 ROY, 1 MVP, 1 WS win, 1 Gold Glove, 7 AS games, 305 HR, 934 RBI, .333 career BA, .424 OBP, 1,471 hits)- It is mind boggling that Pujols has compiled all of the above stats in only 7 plus seasons. That being said, Pujols is possibly the best all-around hitter in baseball this decade. When all 30 MLB managers were polled at the beginning of the season on who they would least want to face with the game on the line, Pujols led the votes, getting 11 of the 30 votes. The next closest player received 4.5 votes. As well as seeing the ball so well, and hitting to all fields, Pujols has consistently been clutch for the Cards, who doesn't remember his walk-off absolute bomb against Brad Lidge? The one in which Andy Pettite is seen saying, "Oh, my God," in the dugout. If that isn't clutch, then I don't know what is. All in all, Pujols has already compiled the best numbers of any Cardinals first basemen in the history of the franchise.
Un-honorable mention: Tino Martinez- Martinez produced some of his worst career numbers with the Cardinals, the only time Tino ever showed true passion with the Cards was during his fight with then Diamondbacks pitcher Miguel Batista.
2B: Rogers Hornsby(HOF, 1 WS win, 2 MVP, 2 Triple Crown wins, .424 BA in 1924, 301 HR, 169 3B, 2,930 hits, .358 career BA)- One only needs to see Hornsby's 1922 stats, in which he batted .401, hit 42 HR's, and had 151 RBI. Other than that though, Hornsby is the only player to win the NL Triple Crown twice, his career BA is an NL, and the best career BA for a right handed hitter of all-time. As well, Ted Williams once said Hornsby was the greatest hitter for average and power in baseball history. If that compliment isn't enough, then nothing is. Hornsby was also a great fielder. His all-around attributes make him possibly the best second baseman of all-time, not only in Cardinals history.
Un-honorable mention: Adam Kennedy- Kennedy was more help to the team as part of the trade that brought Edmonds to St. Louis than at any other time. When you bat .219 in 87 games, you better excel at some other aspect of the game well, but Kennedy has no speed and a decent glove and arm, rendering him as helpful as the Cardinals bullpen this year.
SS: Ozzie Smith (HOF, 13 consecutive Gold Gloves, 2,460 Hits, 580 SB, 1978 ROY, 15 All-Star Games)- While Ozzie was never much at the plate, he had decent speed, but we all know that that is not why Ozzie made the list. The Wizard lived up to his nickname with the glove, and will always be known for his backflips before he took the field. Ozzie retired as arguably the best fielding shortstop of all-tme. The legend that Ozzie is will live on in the hearts of Cardinals fans forever, and always as the Wizard. And who will ever forget Ozzie's walkoff HR in the 1985 NLCS, in which the term, "Go crazy folks, go crazy" was coined by the late great Jack Buck?
Un-honorable mention: Royce Clayton- Yes, the man had to take over for a legend, but that doesn't excuse his poor attitude and poor play (highest OBP with Cardinals: .321). Not to mention that his numbers are out of the leadoff spot
3B: Ken Boyer (5 Gold Gloves, 7-time All-Star, 1 WS win, 1 MVP, career .348 BA.)- Other than being second all-time in Cardinals Grand Slams (7), Boyer helped lead the team to their 1964 World Series Win, and was named the NL MVP of that season. He is the only Cardinal to ever hit for the cycle twice, and he was nicknamed "The Captain", solidifying his spot in the lineup.
Un-honorable mention: Ken Reitz: While he was a fan favorite, Reitz's stats are actually horrendous. He had a career BA of .260 and a career OBP of .290. How did he make the All-Star game in 1979? He batted .270 with 8 HR and 53 RBI that season. On top of that, Reitz was a mediocre fielder (23 errors in 1975) and had even less speed (10 career SB).
LF: Lou Brock (HOF, 6 All-Star games, 938 SB, 3,023 hits, 2 WS win, 118 SB in 1974)- Brock's incredible speed helped him set the record (when he retired) for SB with 938. While many Cardinal fans remember the Lou Brock umbrella promotion (the brockabrella), few remember that he was acquired by the Cards in a deal that sent Ernie Broglio to the Cubs in one of the most lopsided trades of all-time. That was also the last trade between the two rivals for a long time. Brock's speed, coupled with his power to the gaps combined to make Brock a Hall of Famer and one of the most beloved Cardinals of all-time.
CF: Jim Edmonds (10 Gold Gloves, 7 All-Star Games, 1 WS win, 377 HR, 1165 RBI)- Jimmy Ballgame will forever be remembered in Cardinal fans' hearts for his clutch walk-off HR in Game 6 of the 2004 NLCS. Many fans, however, forget about Edmonds' almost as clutch catch in the first inning of Game 7 of that same NLCS, the catch that saved several runs from scoring in which Edmonds is flat-out, parallel to ground leaping to make the catch in the gap. (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2004_images/p1_edmonds_catch_all.jpg) Jimmy was loved by many for being an all-or-nothing type of player. As well, Edmonds had one of the best arms in baseball for a long time, and he combined with Pujols and Rolen to make the Big 3 trio. Jimmy's excitement as the Cards won the 2006 WS, was that of an extremely happy child, summing up Edmonds' child-like love for the game.
RF: Stan "the Man" Musial (HOF, fourth on the all-time hits list with 3,630 hits, .331 BA, 475 HR, 1951 RBI, 3-time WS Champ, 7 Batting titles, 3 MVP's)- Those stats alone show why Stan was truly the Man. Not only did he play all of his 22 seasons with the Cards, but his presence in St. Louis was why he was truly respected. Stan was the quintessential All-Star, a man whose greatness cannot be put into words. An all-around good guy who once said, "I love to play this game of baseball - I love putting on this uniform."
Un-honorable mention (entire OF): J.D. Drew- Drew managed to be injured for a good chunk of his stay with the Cardinals, leading him to be un-honorably mentioned. Yes, he put up some good stats, but Drew perennially didn't hustle and was on the DL every season with the club. Even La Russa commented in his book Three Nights In August that Drew seemed to "settle for 75%" of his talent. A man more concerned about his paycheck than the integrity of the game should completely disgust every baseball fan.
SP: Bob Gibson (HOF, 1 MVP, 2 CY Young awards, 2 WS wins, 9 Gold Gloves, 528 appearances, 255 CG, 8 All-Star games, 251 Wins, 3117 K's, career 2.91 ERA, holds the single-season record for ERA: 1.12 in 1968)- Gibson literally changed baseball; after the 1968 season in which Gibson set the ERA record, the pitching mound was lowered. He was, therefore, directly related to one of the many changes for the hitters that have occurred in MLB history. Gibson's gamer mentality was at an all-time high when Roberto Clemente broke his leg with a line drive and Gibson pitched to the next two batters. Gibson was always the competitor, as Hank Aaron once told a young Dusty Baker, "Don't dig in against Bob Gibson, he'll knock you down. He'd knock down his own grandmother if she dared to challenge him. Don't stare at him, don't smile at him, don't talk to him. He doesn't like it. If you happen to hit a home run, don't run too slow, don't run too fast. If you happen to want to celebrate, get in the tunnel first. And if he hits you, don't charge the mound, because he's a Gold Glove boxer." As well, as being a great boxer and pitcher, Gibson even played for the Harlem Globetrotters. Gibson was truly a great athlete in general.
Un-honorable mention: Jason Marquis- Marquis gave Dave Duncan absolutely no credit, and then supposedly quit following the pitching guru's tutelage. While he was so-so overall, the games Marquis blew were much, much more memorable than the few gems he tossed. Marquis was even left off the 2006 playoff roster, a roster that included Anthony Reyes (the 2-14 wonder) and Jeff Weaver (5.18 ERA). A 6.02 ERA and 35 HR allowed will do that to you.
RP: Bruce Sutter (HOF, 300 career saves, 2.83 ERA in 661 games, 1 Cy Young, 6 All-Star games)- Sutter's tough guy credo, matched with his innovative split-finger fastball combined for a lights-out situation whenever Sutter entered the game. Sutter famously clinched the 1982 World Series against the Milwaukee Brewers, ending the game on a strikeout.
Un-Honorable Mention: Ron Villone and Esteban Yan- Two men that somehow make me mad even when their names and the Cardinals are merely mentioned in the same sentence. Both seem to do the inevitable every time: blow the game whenever they can. When you give up a bomb to a man who hasn't homered since May 14th (Andruw Jones on August 5), you just deserve to be un-honorably mentioned. As well, Villone thus far in 2008: 5.26 ERA in 48 Games. When you pitch that much, your ERA better be lower than 5.26. As for Yan in 2003 with the Cards: 6.02 ERA in 39 games.
Thanks for reading and comments/suggestions are wanted.
http://www.baseball-almanac.com/quotes/quomusl.shtml, Sport Magazine's All-Time All Stars (Tom Murray, 1963).