RSS

Cardinal Players of the 2000s

January 29, 2010 | mriehn | Comments 6

by Michael Riehn

Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols

The Cardinals have been blessed with fantastic teams in the 2000’s.  A World Series Championship, 2 pennants and 5 division titles, 7 playoff appearances, 1 Cy Young Award and 3 MVPs are just a small list of accomplishments for the organization.  The United Cardinal Bloggers are doing a best players of the decade review.

So who gets to be on the list?  The criteria for me:

  1. I’m not looking at who was best for the decade, but who did the best in a specific season
  2. Decade is defined as 2000-2009
  3. Each position will be accounted for with a full starting 5 (pitchers) and a closer.
  4. Players can’t be listed multiple times, so while Albert Pujols may have had the best season as a third baseman, left field and first base, I’m only taking his best season (which happens to be at first base)
  5. Must have 400 plate appearances to qualify (Sorry Matt Holliday 2009)

First a primer on OPS+:  OPS+ is OPS adjusted for the park and the league in which the player played, but not for fielding position. An OPS+ of 100 is defined to be the league average. An OPS+ of 150 or more is excellent and 125 very good, while an OPS+ of 75 or below is poor.

THE LIST:

First Base: Tino Martinez 2003, er, I mean Albert Pujols 2009.

Year Age PA 2B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ Awards
2009 29 700 45 47 135 16 115 64 .327 .443 .658 1.101 188 AS,MVP-1,SS
9 Seasons 6082 387 366 1112 61 811 570 .334 .427 .628 1.055 172

The Tino joke aside, it wasn’t hard to pick who the best Cardinal player of the decade was, at first base or any other position.  It was difficult picking his best season.  He’s been so good for so long that almost any season he’s had would be the best at any other position for the Cardinals (or any other team).  Technically, 2010 had a higher OPS+ with 190, but the 59 more plate appearances and a career high in stolen bases put him over the top (in my opinion).

Second Base: Fernando Vina 2001

Year Age PA 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ Awards
2001 32 690 30 8 9 56 17 32 35 .303 .357 .418 .775 100 GG
12 Seasons 4742 194 49 40 343 116 288 292 .282 .348 .379 .728 89

Honestly, Skip Schumaker’s 2009 was close, but Vina gets the edge due to his Glove Award Winning defense and base running.  You don’t remember it now, but Vina had a fantastic pivot on the double play.

Shortstop: Edgar Renteria 2003

Year Age PA 2B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ Awards
2003 27 663 47 13 100 34 65 54 .330 .394 .480 .874 130 AS,MVP-15,GG,SS
14 Seasons 8466 411 132 865 287 673 1074 .288 .345 .401 .746 94

Renteria had an amazing season in 2003 that would have looked good in a corner outfield spot.  What makes it even better is that he played Gold Glove caliber defense at the most demanding position on the field and stole 34 bases.

Third Base: Scott Rolen 2004

Year Age PA 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ Awards
2004 29 593 32 34 124 72 92 .314 .409 .598 1.007 157 AS,MVP-4,GG
14 Seasons 7382 446 283 1129 809 1230 .284 .370 .498 .868 124

Rolen always had an amazing glove, but he improved his game with MVP caliber offense in 2004.

Left Field: J.D. Drew 2001

Year Age PA 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2001 25 443 18 5 27 73 13 57 75 .323 .414 .613 1.027 161
12 Seasons 5321 243 45 216 705 84 769 974 .283 .392 .504 .896 129

This was the toughest call out of every position (and technically this was right field).  Not because Drew didn’t play well (he did), but because he was injured so much.  The talent was real though, and he didn’t have much competition.

Centerfield: Jim Edmonds 2004

Year Age PA 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ Awards
2004 34 612 38 42 111 101 150 .301 .418 .643 1.061 170 MVP-5,GG,SS
16 Seasons 7708 414 382 1176 974 1669 .284 .377 .528 .905 132

The third member of the MV3 with Pujols and Rolen, it is amazing to think back to the time when we had 3 players in the top 5 of the MVP voting.

Rightfield: Ryan Ludwick 2008

Year Age PA 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ Awards
2008 29 617 40 37 113 62 146 .299 .375 .591 .966 150 AS,MVP-16,SS
7 Seasons 1860 98 87 306 157 423 .271 .340 .493 .833 117

After battling injuries throughout his career, Ludwick finally got healthy and won a silver slugger award in 2008.  Hopefully, he will regain some of this form for a repeat in 2010.

Pitching

Primer for ERA+:  ERA+ adjusts a pitcher’s earned run average (ERA) according to the pitcher’s ballpark (in case the ballpark favors batters or pitchers) and the ERA of the pitcher’s league. Average ERA+ is set to be 100; a score above 100 indicates that the pitcher performed better than average, below 100 indicates worse than average.

Starting Pitcher 1: Chris Carpenter 2009

Year Age W L ERA G CG SHO IP BB SO ERA+ WHIP HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 Awards
2005 30 21 5 2.83 33 7 4 241.2 51 213 149 1.055 0.7 1.9 7.9 AS,CYA-1,MVP-8
2009 34 17 4 2.24 28 3 1 192.2 38 144 183 1.007 0.3 1.8 6.7 CYA-2,MVP-14
12 Seasons 117 74 3.88 278 28 13 1730.0 506 1315 116 1.294 0.9 2.6 6.8

How could I not take the year he won the Cy Young?  I provided both for comparison.  This was the most difficult pitching decision that I had to make.  In 2005, Carpenter threw over 240 innings, led the league with 7 complete games and had 213 Ks (and more K’s per 9 than 2009).  In 2009 he had a slightly lower walk rate and almost NEVER gave up a home run.  I’d take either, but I think Carp’s 2009 was SLIGHTLY more dominant.

Starting Pitcher 2: Adam Wainwright 2009

Year Age W L ERA G IP BB SO ERA+ WHIP HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 Awards
2009 27 19 8 2.63 34 233.0 66 212 157 1.210 0.7 2.5 8.2 CYA-3,MVP-15,GG
5 Seasons 46 24 3.17 149 644.0 193 511 135 1.256 0.7 2.7 7.1

A workhorse season, it wasn’t quite as good as Carp’s (and would rank behind Carp’s 2005), but fantastic nonetheless.

Starting Pitcher 3: Darryl Kile 2001

Year Age W L ERA GS CG IP BB SO ERA+ WHIP HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 Awards
2000 31 20 9 3.91 34 5 232.1 58 192 120 1.175 1.3 2.2 7.4 AS,CYA-5,MVP-18
2001 32 16 11 3.09 34 2 227.1 65 179 140 1.289 0.9 2.6 7.1
12 Seasons 133 119 4.12 331 28 2165.1 918 1668 104 1.410 0.9 3.8 6.9

I know that 2000 is considered his better year because he won 20 games (and was 5th in the Cy Young voting), but 2001 sticks out as a better season to me.  He kept the ball in the ballpark better and had an improved ERA because of it.  Either season is great, and he left us far too soon.

Starting Pitcher 4: Matt Morris

Year Age W L ERA G IP BB SO ERA+ WHIP HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 Awards
2001 26 22 8 3.16 34 216.1 54 185 137 1.257 0.5 2.2 7.7 AS,CYA-3,MVP-14
11 Seasons 121 92 3.98 307 1806.0 509 1214 107 1.316 0.9 2.5 6.0

Matt Morris in his prime was a beautiful thing to watch.  In 2001 he put it all together for a brief peak at the top.

Starting Pitcher 5: Rick Ankiel 2000

Year Age W L ERA G IP BB SO ERA+ WHIP HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 Awards
2000 20 11 7 3.50 31 175.0 90 194 134 1.297 1.1 4.6 10.0 RoY-2
4 Seasons 13 10 3.90 51 242.0 130 269 118 1.355 1.2 4.8 10.0

It’s hard to remember how good Rick Ankiel really was.  His cartoon curveball and electric fastball took the league by storm in 2000.  Along with Darryl Kile, these two should have been leading the Cardinals through the early to mid 2000’s.  Instead, both of their careers were cut short.  10 strikeouts per 9 innings is sick.

Honorable Mentions:  Joel Pinerio 2009, Woody Williams 2003

Closer: Jason Isringhausen 2002

Year Age W L ERA G SV IP HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP HR/9 BB/9 SO/9
2002 29 3 2 2.48 60 32 65.1 0 18 68 161 0.980 0.0 2.5 9.4
14 Seasons 45 50 3.60 621 293 915.1 72 394 755 118 1.327 0.7 3.9 7.4

For all of the grief that Issi took in Cardinal Nation, you would think he wasn’t very good.  On the contrary, Isringhausen was DOMINANT at times, especially during 2002.  Look over the stats and you will see something amazing.  Along with his 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings and low walk rate, he DID NOT ALLOW A HOME RUN in 2002.  Wow.

Filed Under: BaseballFeatured

About the Author: I am a Cardinal fan, from a small town in Missouri and grew up listening to the Whiteyball teams of the 1980s (but still love the Tony LaRussa version). Currently living outside of St. Louis, I am a partial season ticket holder with a great group of friends. I hold the position of Director of Sales and Marketing for a hydraulic press manufacturer and serve on a local youth baseball board of directors. Follow me on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/mriehn

RSSComments (6)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. [...] C70 At The Bat Cards Cove Five O’Clock Blogger Fungoes la beisbolista The McBrayer-Baseball Blog Whiteyball [...]

  2. flat tax says:

    I’m disappointed. Where’s Mac on the list for most injected?

  3. Dustin Mattison says:

    Great list. Flat Tax, how many WS have you guys won again? Oh yeah, never mind.

  4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by St Louis Cardinals, Michael Riehn and Dustin Mattison, Forrest Knight. Forrest Knight said: Cardinal Players of the 2000s | Whiteyball http://bit.ly/95JEUq [...]

  5. Er, not to be a stickler, but who is going to catch all of those great Cardinal pitchers? :)

  6. mriehn says:

    Doh! Yadier Molina from 2009 will catch. Thanks for the catch PH8

Leave a Reply

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.