10 Amazing Stats and Storylines from the Cubs vs. Cardinals RivalryMay 5, 2020
10 Amazing Stats and Storylines from the Cubs vs. Cardinals Rivalry
Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals.
It's a rivalry born almost entirely from the geographical proximity of the two franchises and their subsequent battle for territorial rights.
"All that stands between these two adversaries is a mere 297 miles of rich, Midwestern soil. With each team intent on owning that land, this rivalry is really a turf war," Doug Ward of ESPN wrote in 2009.
That might be an oversimplification, but it's fair.
For much of central Illinois, Busch Stadium is actually closer than Wrigley Field, meaning the rivalry's borders and state lines are by no means one and the same.
Even when the Cubs were still "lovable losers" and perennial cellar-dwellers, the rivalry still meant something to both fanbases.
Contention by both teams in recent years has thrown additional fuel on the flames and breathed new life into one of the oldest rivalries in the sport.
As we celebrate Rivalry Week here at Bleacher Report, let's take a deep dive into some mind-blowing statistics from the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.
Forgotten Cardinals Killer: Lenny Randle
Larry Randle put together a solid 12-year career in the big leagues, playing for five different teams on his way to a respectable 11.6 WAR in 1,138 games.
In 1980, he was one of the many players who took a turn as Cubs third baseman in the years following Ron Santo's departure.
In his lone season on the North Side, he hit .276/.343/.370 for a 94 OPS+ with 30 extra-base hits and 19 steals in 549 plate appearances.
So why are we talking about him?
Because he crushed Cardinals pitching that year:
- 16 G, 61 PA, .469/.557/.592, 23 H, 11 BB, 3 XBH, 8 RBI, 11 R, 4 SB
Despite losing 98 games, the Cubs managed to split the season series with the Cardinals, and there's no question Randle was a big reason why.
Ready for the kicker?
The Cardinals drafted Randle out of high school in the 10th round in 1967. He chose not to sign, instead honoring his commitment to Arizona State before being picked 10th overall in the 1970 draft.
Forgotten Cubs Killer: Brian Barden
Cardinals fans might remember Brian Barden from his red-hot start to the 2009 season, when he hit .385/.432/.641 with three home runs in 44 plate appearances to win National League Rookie of the Month honors in April.
The 28-year-old crashed back to earth and played only 119 MLB games, posting minus-0.2 WAR in a largely forgettable career.
Despite his brief window in the big leagues, some Cubs fans may still cringe at the mention of his name. Why, you might ask?
Here's a look at his career numbers:
- 193 PA, .211/.268/.303, 37 H, 4 HR, 14 RBI
Here's a look at what he did in 14 games against the Cubs:
- 30 PA, .500/.571/.917, 12 H, 3 HR, 7 RBI
If the Cardinals and Cubs simply played each other 162 times every year, Barden might have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Instead, he stands as a prime example of how a player can carve out a lasting legacy with a franchise by succeeding against the team's rival.
Rivalry Pitching Star (Cubs): RHP Orval Overall
Orval Overall is perhaps best recognized as the winning pitcher in the decisive Game 5 of the 1908 World Series, as he tossed a three-hit shutout against the Detroit Tigers.
He posted an excellent 1.94 ERA and 133 ERA+ in six seasons with the Cubs, which amounted to the bulk of his seven-year MLB career.
Considering those numbers, his head-to-head stats against most teams are pretty stellar, but he took things to another level when the Cardinals were in the opposite dugout.
- 23 GS, 18 CG, 8 SHO, 18-2, 0.24 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 187.1 IP
All told, he allowed just 110 hits and five earned runs in 187.1 innings, holding St. Louis to a .171 batting average in the process.
Even for the dead ball era, those are some outstanding numbers.
Rivalry Pitching Star (Cardinals): Harry Brecheen
Which Cardinals pitcher has thrown the most shutouts against the Cubs?
If you said Bob Gibson, you are only half right.
The Hall of Famer tossed 11 shutouts against the rival Cubs over the course of his career, but that puts him in a tie for the No. 1 spot on that list.
The other hurler who blanked the Cubs an impressive 11 times is left-hander Harry Brecheen.
A standout during the 1940s, Brecheen was a two-time All-Star who put together a terrific 1948 season, leading the NL in ERA (2.24), WHIP (1.04) and strikeouts (149).
Here's a look at his career numbers against the Cubs:
- 47 GS, 35 CG, 11 SHO, 31-12, 2.03 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 420.1 IP
His 31 wins are also a franchise record against the North Siders, and they accounted for nearly a quarter of his 133 career victories.
With 41.3 WAR to his credit, Brecheen deserves more historical recognition, and his performance against the Cubs was the foundation of his success.
Cardinals Win 20-Inning Marathon in 1930
The longest game in the history of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry was played Aug. 28, 1930.
The Cardinals won 92 games to capture the NL pennant that season, while the Cubs finished just two games behind them in the standings, so every head-to-head meeting was crucial.
On that fateful day in August, the Cardinals led 5-0 after six innings before the Cubs rallied with three runs in the bottom of the seventh and two more in the bottom of the eighth.
The two teams traded zeros until the Cardinals struck for two runs in the top of the 15th inning, but the Cubs again answered, extending the game further.
An RBI single by Cardinals third baseman Andy High, who was making his 10th plate appearance of the game, proved to be the decisive blow in the top of the 20th inning.
The most impressive box score entry from that game came via Syl Johnson.
The right-hander entered in relief in the bottom of the ninth and pitched the final 12 innings for St. Louis, allowing just nine hits and two earned runs to pick up the victory.
Cardinals Manufacture 21 Runs in 1977
The Cardinals lost 4-1 the first time these teams met during the 1977 season.
That apparently did not sit well.
The next day, they went out and hung 21 runs on the Cubs in front of the Wrigley Field crowd.
Chicago starter Mike Krukow failed to record an out, giving up back-to-back singles to start the game before walking the next two batters to force in a run and get the hook.
Five different relievers then combined to struggle to the finish line. The Cubs allowed 19 hits and eight walks, while five errors in the field also contributed to the onslaught.
Ten players recorded at least one hit for the Cardinals, led by Keith Hernandez, Garry Templeton and Hector Cruz, who had three apiece.
A two-run home run by right fielder Mike Anderson in the top of the eighth inning was the only home run for the Redbirds.
Piling up that many runs is hard. Doing it with just one long ball is almost impossible.
That said, the most shocking stat of all is that the game took only two hours, 34 minutes, according to Baseball Reference.
That means the Cardinals scored a run every 7.3 minutes.
Don Cardwell Makes History in 1960
The Chicago Cubs acquired Don Cardwell from the Philadelphia Phillies in a four-player trade May 13, 1960. Two days later, he made his Cubs debut against the rival Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
As far as first impressions are concerned, his goes down as one of the best in baseball history.
After inducing a groundout by Cardinals leadoff hitter Joe Cunningham, Cardwell walked shortstop Alex Grammas.
He then proceeded to retire the next 26 batters, striking out seven, on his way to the first and still only no-hitter in the history of the rivalry.
The 24-year-old finished 102-138 with a 3.92 ERA and 95 ERA+ in a forgettable 14-year career, but one brilliant start forever etched his name in rivalry lore.
John Tudor Dominates in 1985
The 1985 season was truly a magical one for St. Louis left-hander John Tudor.
Acquired in a four-player trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates during the offseason, Tudor entered the year with a respectable 3.79 ERA (109 ERA+) and four career shutouts in 126 starts.
In his Cardinals debut, the 31-year-old went 21-8 with a 1.93 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 169 strikeouts in 275 innings to finish second in NL Cy Young voting and eighth in NL MVP voting.
Along the way, he threw 14 complete games and 10 shutouts, and he still stands as the most recent pitcher to tally double-digit shutouts in a season.
He made three starts against the Cubs during his terrific 1985 campaign:
- June 23: W, 9.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
- Aug. 8: W, 9.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
- Oct. 5: W, 9.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
A single by Gary Matthews, a wild pitch, and an RBI single by Keith Moreland was all that kept him from going 3-for-3 on shutouts.
Still, a 3-0 record with a 0.33 ERA and a .082 opponents' batting average in three complete games is the definition of dominance.
Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby Stars on Both Sides
There's a strong case to be made that Rogers Hornsby is the greatest second baseman in MLB history.
A .358/.434/.577 career hitter who hit .400 three different times and won seven batting titles, Hornsby racked up an impressive 127.1 WAR over the course of his 23-year career. That's good for 12th on the all-time list.
He spent 13 seasons and won six of those batting titles as a member of the Cardinals, and St. Louis is the franchise he is most often associated with historically.
As you might expect, he had plenty of success against the Cubs during his time with the Cardinals:
- 966 PA, .364/.434/.594, 108 XBH (34 HR), 140 RBI, 162 R
However, some fans might not realize he also spent four seasons with the Cubs, even winning his second MVP award for them in 1929.
And he definitely didn't take it easy on his old team when he found himself on the other side of the rivalry:
- 213 PA, .384/.473/.672, 22 2B, 1 3B, 9 HR, 43 RBI, 42 R
One of the best of all time made his mark for both the Cubs and Cardinals, and he did some of his best work in the heat of the rivalry.
Head-to-Head (Since 1904)
Regular-Season Wins: Cubs 1,239, Cardinals 1,181
Postseason Wins: Cubs 3, Cardinals 1 (2015 NLDS)
Division Titles: Cardinals 14, Cubs 7
WS Titles: Cardinals 11, Cubs 3
Team Offensive Totals: .264/.330/.384, 1,422 HR, 4.1 runs per game
HR Leaders: Stan Musial (67), Albert Pujols (53), Jim Bottomley (37), Ken Boyer (37)
Team Pitching Totals: 20,161.2 IP, 3.46 ERA, 1.33 WHIP
Strikeout Leader: Bob Gibson (338), Adam Wainwright (224), Harry Brecheen (202)
Team Offensive Totals: .258/.326/.380, 1,519 HR, 4.0 runs per game
HR Leader: Ernie Banks (64), Sammy Sosa (40), Gabby Hartnett (39), Hack Wilson (39)
Team Pitching Totals: 20,171.1 IP, 3.65 ERA, 1.37 WHIP
Strikeout Leader: Hippo Vaughn (203), Fergie Jenkins (201), Charlie Root (187)
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, unless otherwise noted, and span from 1904 to 2019.