The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the nest franchises in baseball history. Their all-time 25-man roster also contains some of the greatest names to ever step foot on the field.
The St. Louis Cardinals originated in the 1870s, and have been going strong since. They have won 11 World Series title, only the Yankees have more. They have also won 19 pennants and 13 division titles.
The Cardinals boast some of the best players ever including Rogers Hornsby, Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Whitey Herzog, and lots others who have made positive impacts on this Franchise. They have 11 Popular Cardinal Baseball Hall Of Fame inductees (that played the majority of their careers with the Cardinals. I am leaving out the ones who only played on the Cardinals for a few years, and didn’t do much) … and soon to be more.
So, what does the 20-Man roster look like? Not only is it the Cardinals best ever, but also the all-time best.
Catcher: Yadier Molina (2004 – Present)
Yadier Molina is a tough pick over the 1970s catcher Ted Simmons. But with Molina’s defensive dominance through his career, he can’t be ignored.
Early in his career, Molina was thought of as only a defensive catcher. He had a career batting average of .248 in 2007. By 2015, it rose to .286. But Molina was and is more known for his defensive abilities. With his unbelievable catching ability, along with his canon for an arm, Molina was quickly recognized as one of the best catchers in the league. Molina currently ranks second all-time among catchers in Total Zone Runs with 131. He only trails Ivan Rodriguez at 167. Molina also has never had a negative defensive WAR in a season.
In his first twelve seasons, he has made a postseason appearance nine times. He also has had seven consecutive All-Star game appearances, eight consecutive Gold Glove awards, four Platinum Glove awards, and one Silver Slugger award. While on the team, the Cardinals have won 2 World Series titles and 4 National League pennants.
First Base: Albert Pujols (2001-2011)
Albert Pujols might retire in another team’s jersey, but his best years were as a Cardinal. Pujols won NL Rookie of the Year in 2001, and went on to be a multi-year all star with 2 WS championships.
In his 11 seasons with the Cardinals, Pujols had 3 MVPs, won the Silver Slugger 6 times, and won the Gold Glove twice. He hit .328/.420/.617 and had an OPS of 1.037, along with 445 home runs and 1329 RBIs. That right there is good enough to make the Hall Of Fame.
Though, he may have slowed down as an Angel, but he still proudly has 614 Home Runs and 1918 RBIs. He has continued the climb multiple ladders, and could possibly break many records, and may be recognized as on of the best to step between those white lines.
Many Cardinals fans may have felt animosity towards Albert when he left for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. But his impact on the franchise and its history is too big to dismiss. The Dominican first baseman made his home and career in St. Louis. He belongs on this all-time team.
Second Base: Rogers Hornsby (1915-1926; 1933-1937)
The best right-handed hitter of all-time. Period. Enough said? Anyways, Rogers Hornsby joins the team one of the first players to impact the franchise on a historical level. He led the Cardinals to their first World Series in 1926. Many may not know that he also managed the team that year and the previous.
Hornsby was nicknamed “The Rajah. He won two Triple Crown awards, two MVP awards, and has a career batting average that is second all-time in all of baseball to Ty Cobb. Hornsby also batted over .400 three times in his career. His 1924 batting average of .424 is a modern era single-season record that has yet to be broken, and won’t be broken in the near future.
Hornsby began this franchise’s historical success, and his place on this team is unquestioned. The two-time batting champion would start at second base for the all-time Cardinals.
Third Base: Ken Boyer (1955-1965)
Ken Boyer may be the most underrated third baseman of all time. He was an 11-time All-Star, 5 time Gold Glove winner, and even won one MVP. (1964) He also led the team to a WS win in 1964.
In his 10 years as a Cardinal, he hit 255 home runs. He’s third on the Cardinals all-time home run list behind Stan Musial and Albert Pujols. Boyer retired with a slugging percentage of .462 and ranks among the best when it comes to games (6th, 1,785) assists (6th, 3,652) and double plays (3rd, 355). Boyer is also the only Cardinals player since 1900 to bat for the cycle twice.
Many may not know that the Cardinals initially tried to have Boyer be a pitcher. With his hitting ability being so impressive and his pitching being not so good, the Cardinals moved him to third base in 1951. He joined the Major League roster in 1954. And he joins this all-time roster now.
Shortstop: Ozzie Smith (1982-1996)
This team wouldn’t be complete without the Wizard. This back-flipping shortstop has been unconditionally loved by the Redbirds since he joined in 1982.
His athletic ability allowed him to be perhaps the best defensive shortstop in history and it also allowed him to celebrate it on the field to become a fan favorite. “The Wizard” won 13 Gold Glove awards, one MVP award, and was a 15-time All-Star. He is second all-time in assists with 8,375 and second in double plays turned as a shortstop with 1,590.
Smith also is known for one of the most memorable moments in history. He hit a game-winning home run in the 1985 National League Championship Series. And because of that moment, Jack Buck’s famous “Go crazy, folks!” became a motto all Cardinals fans loved.
The Wizard was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2002. His number (1) was retired by St. Louis in 1996 and he still remains an active member of the Cardinals community.
Outfield: Lou Brock (1964-1979)
Lou Brock is easily one of the best Cardinals all-time. Despite Brock entering the league as a Chicago Cub, Brock will forever be apart of the St. Louis Cardinal family and organization.
He spent 19 seasons in the major leagues, 16 being with the Redbirds. Through that time, he was a six-time All-Star, two-time World Series champion, and an MVP finalist in 1974.
Brock wasn’t known for his power, but he was known for his incredible speed. He currently sits in second on the all-time stolen base list with 938 and trails Rickey Henderson. Brock reached 3,023 career hits before retiring. Only 30 other players have ever achieved such a thing. 486 of those hits were doubles and 141 were triples.
They retired his number 20 in 1979, and he was inducted to the Baseball Hall Of Fame in 1985. He remains with the Birds as a special instructor and fan favorite.
Outfield: Stan Musial (1941-1944; 1946-1963)
Stan Musial may be known as “Stan the Man,” but he really should be known as the greatest Cardinal. Musial played first base and outfield since he was so versatile and athletic.
Musial was a seven-time National League batting champion and three-time National League MVP. Through his 22 year career, he never struck out more than 50 times in one season and no one is more consistent than the man. He had exactly 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 hits on the road. With 3,630 total hits, he is fourth on the all-time list and is first among players that only played for one team. He also shares the major league record for most All-Star games played (24) with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.
In his first full season as a Cardinal in 1942, he led them to a WS championship. In 1943 he won MVP, and went on to win the 1944 World Series. But, Musial left baseball in 1945 to serve in the military, which probably cost him from 500 home runs, 2000 runs, 2000 RBIs, and being third on the all-time hit list rather than fourth.
But he returned in 1946 and seemed to not have missed a step. He won the 1946 MVP award and helped the Cardinals win another World Series title. After Musial retired, he served as general manager of the Cardinals in 1967 and was part of yet another St. Louis Cardinals World Series winning team.
Outfield: Enos Slaughter (1938-1942; 1946-1953)
There are other options for an outfield position on this roster, but Enos Slaughter had the proven bat and accolades to be the starter. He had 2,383 hits in his career, including 169 home runs and 1,304 RBI in 2,380 games. In total, Slaughter played for 19 seasons and was a 10-time All-Star that had 5 World Series appearances (four wins).
Like Stan Musial, Slaughter missed time during the 1940s due to military service. But upon return in 1946, he led the National League with 130 RBI and led the Cardinals to a World Series win. He is famously known for the “Mad Dash” from first base to home in the eighth inning of the 7th game.
Enos Slaughter was always known for his hustle and his intense run to first base on walks was later emulated by Pete Rose and David Eckstein. Slaughter was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985. The Redbirds retired his number (9) in 1996. His hustle, ability to knock in runs, and tendency to win big games earns him a spot on this historic roster.
Designated Hitter: Mark McGwire (1997-2001)
Mark McGwire, despite the controversy about his PED use, was an incredible St. Louis Cardinals player. He was an All-Star every season he was a Cardinal and made 12 total All-Star appearances. As a rookie, McGwire hit 49 home runs, setting the single-season rookie record. But that was just the start. Each season from 1996 to 1999, he led the major leagues in home runs. (In 1997 he led the MLB in HR since he played for an AL team and NL team).
In 1998, McGwire chased Roger Maris’ home run record of 61. He broke it and set a new major league single-season home run record with 70. Big Mac also led the league in RBI, walks, OBP, and slugging percentage multiple times throughout his career. He averaged a home run once every 10.61 at bats which are the best at bats per home run ratio in baseball history. He also was the fastest player to hit 500 home runs. He needed only 5,487 at bats. He retired following injury filled 2000 and 2001 seasons and finished with 583 home runs, which was 5th all-time when he retired. Whether you feel he should be eligible for special considerations or not due to the PED issues, he deserves to be on this list for what he did as a St. Louis Cardinal.
Backup Catcher: Ted Simmons (1968-1980)
Ted Simmons arguably could’ve been the starting catcher for the all-time Redbirds. Through 21 years, Simmons played in 2,456 games, had 2,473 hits along with a .285 career batting average. He tacked on 248 career home runs, 1,389 runs batted in and a .348 on-base percentage. He also ended his career with a .986 fielding percentage.
Simmons was an eight-time All-Star and is one of the best switch-hitters of all time. He batted above .300 seven times, hit 20 home runs six times, and batted in 90 or more runs eight times. He also established a National League record for home runs by a switch hitter (182) that has been broken recently.
Ted Simmons was the best catcher in Cardinals history until Yadier Molina entered the scene. Even now, he still is arguably the best catcher but with Molina improving as he ages, Simmons moves to the backup role on the all-time roster.
Backup Infielder: Red Schoendienst (1945-1956; 1961-1963)
Schoendienst actually began his major league career as the Cardinals’ left fielder. He was moved to second in 1946 and he helped them win their third World Series in five years. He also won the 1946 Home Run Derby. Schoendienst quickly became known for his incredible reflexes and sure hands.
Shoendienst seemed to show up when it mattered. He was incredibly reliable and he became a clutch player for the Cardinals and the National League. In the 1950 season’s All-Star Game, he hit a home run in the top of the 14th inning to win it. It was the first All-Star game ever to go to extra innings. This is what gives him a spot on the 25 man roster.
Backup OF: Joe Medwick (1932-1940; 1947-1948)
Joe Medwick made his debut for the Cardinals in 1932. Ducky, his nickname, was known for swinging at every pitch. His career took off from there.
In 1936, Medwick set an NL record with 64 doubles which still stands today. Incredibly enough, he hold the MLB record for most consecutive seasons with 40+ doubles. He won the triple crown in 1937 and took home the MVP award.
He was elected into the Hall Of Fame in 1968, and the Cardinals Hall Of Fame in 2014. With his ability to hit where the defense wasn’t give him a spot on the roster.
Backup OF: Willie McGee (1982-1990; 1996-1999)
Willie McGee carries some of the best St. Louis Cardinals memories with him every day. He primarily played center and right field and was awarded the Gold Glove three times. The switch-hitter also won two Silver Slugger award and the National League MVP in 1985. A four-time All-Star, McGee gathered 2,254 hits during his career. In 1985, McGee ranked first in the National League in batting average (.353, the second-highest mark by a switch hitter in NL history), hits (216) and triples (18).
Whether it be for McGee’s spectacular plays in the outfield or for his clutch performances in the World Series, he is a part of the Cardinals all-time roster. And he is very well deserving.
Starting Pitcher: Bob Gibson (1959-1975)
Bob Gibson is the perfect ace. He has gone down as one of the best pitchers ever to play the game.
“Gibby” tallied 251 wins, 3,117 strikeouts, and a 2.91 career ERA. He was a nine-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion. He also won two Cy Young Awards and the 1968 National League MVP award.
Gibson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981 during his first year of eligibility. The Cardinals retired his number 45 in 1975.
Gibson became a full-time starting pitcher during the 1961 season. He earned his first All-Star appearance in 1962. In 1964, Gibson helped the Cardinals win the World Series after recording two wins in three starts in the final series. Then in 1965, “Hoot” recorded his first season with 20 wins. In 1967, Gibson virtually won the World Series on his own. He pitched three complete-game victories during the final series. He allowed only 3 earned runs and 14 hits over the three victories.
Despite all the accomplishments, Gibson somehow got even better in 1968. He posted a 1.12 ERA for the season and recorded 17 strikeouts during Game 1 of the 1968 World Series. The Cardinals lost the World Series to the Tigers that season, but Gibson won the National League MVP award.
Gibson remains one of the best pitchers ever. His famous tenacity and intimidation tactics thrust him into the spotlight where he thrives. He would be an ace on any team and he is the ace on this all-time roster.
Starting Pitcher: Chris Carpenter (2004-2012)
Chris Carpenter may be the second Cardinals pitcher that most fans think of when it comes to all-time greats. He won a Cy Young Award with the Cardinals as well as two World Series championships. Furthermore, he was a three-time All-Star.
In nine seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Carpenter won 95 regular-season games and earned a 3.07 ERA. During that period, his .683 winning percentage led all Major League pitchers. Additionally, in 18 postseason starts, Carpenter won 10 games with a 3.00 ERA. Currently, Carpenter is third on the Cardinals all-time strikeouts list behind Dizzy Dean and Bob Gibson. He will join them in the rotation on the Cardinals’ all-time roster.
Starting Pitcher: Dizzy Dean (1930; 1932-1937)
Dizzy Dean, aka “Dizzy,” played for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 30s for the “Gashouse Gang.” The Gang was a nickname for the team during this time period. Dizzy was best known for his 1934 season where he won 30 games and led the Cardinals to the National League Pennant and the World Series win. He finished the season 30-7 with a 2.66 ERA. He is the only pitcher to win 30 games in the post-1920 live-ball era.
The four-time All-Star led the league in complete games and in strikeouts four consecutive times in his career. His career ended abruptly due to an injury that occurred during the 1937 All-Star game. But that didn’t keep him from the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 1953 and became a baseball broadcaster. If he didn’t get injured, who knows how great he could’ve been. Either way, he still is one of the best and is definitely on the all-time Cardinals roster.
Starting Pitcher: Jesse Haines (1920-1937)
Jesse Haines is the right-handed knuckleballer that makes the all-time roster. He was a fixture in the St. Louis Cardinals starting rotation in 1920. Despite a 13-20 record, Haines had a 2.98 ERA and pitched 300 innings. Additionally, Haines was a part of three World Series championship teams.
Haines won 20 games or more three times for the St. Louis Cardinals. And he also won three World Series (1926, 1931, 1934). In the 1926 World Series, he went 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA. Haines retired with a 210-158 record, 981 strikeouts, 3.64 ERA, and 3208 2/3 innings. In 1970, Haines was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of fame in 2014. He currently ranks second in franchise history in shutouts. The knuckleballer helps round out this incredible Cardinals all-time rotation.
Starting Pitcher: Adam Wainwright (2005-Present)
A current Cardinals pitcher is the final choice for the all-time rotation. Adam Wainwright began his career as a closer and has been a part of many important, high-pressure moments in including the final out of the 2006 World Series. After converting to a starter, he narrowly missed out on a Cy Young Award in both 2009 and 2010.
Adam Wainwright made the Cardinals 2006 Opening Day roster and hit a home run in his first Major League at-bat. This was the beginning of a special season. The Redbirds won the division in 2016 and beat the heavily favored Mets in a dramatic seven-game series. Wainwright was asked to step in for closer Jason Isringhausen after an injury shut him down late in the season. Wainwright’s defining moment was against Carlos Beltran with the bases loaded to get to the World Series. He then struck out the final batter to win the World Series.
Since that season, Wainwright has been an effective starter when healthy. Wainwright won 20 games in 2010 and finished second in the Cy Young voting. He missed all of 2011 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. In 2013, he finished second in the Cy Young voting again. He followed it up with a third-place finish in 2014 for the Cy Young award. In 2015, Waino missed almost the entire season due to an ACL injury. Now, he is finding his way back as the Cardinals try to make the postseason.
Wainwright is arguably the face of the Cardinals’ recent success. He was such a major factor in 2006 and the team’s success in the last 10 years. He wasn’t able to pitch in 2011 but his impact in the clubhouse was surely felt. He is a leader now and he would be on this all-time roster.
Relief pitcher: Jason Isringhausen (2002-2008)
The Cardinals were heavily favored in the early 2000s and he was a lock-down closer. While he was a closer on the Cards, they went to 2 WS and won 1. He had 217 saves on the Birds, still a record today.
He averaged 31 saves per year on the Cards, and if he didn’t have a high number of injuries we might have seen him in the HOF.
Closer: Bruce Sutter (1981-1984)
Bruce Sutter is one of the first pitchers to use a splitter. He has recorded 300 career saves and won a National League Cy Young award in 1979. Sutter is in the Hall of fame because he was the most “lights-out” closer of the late 70s and early 80s.
Being baseball’s most dominant reliever for a period of time, he became the only pitcher to lead the National League in saves five times. He also had five consecutive All-Star appearances. In 1981 he recorded 25 saves with a 2.62 ERA. Following it up in 1982, Sutter registered 36 saves and finished third in Cy Young voting. The Cardinals also won the 1982 World Series and Sutter had two saves in the series.
The Baseball Hall of Fame accepted Sutter in 2006. He was the fourth relief pitcher to be inducted. Sutter is also a part of the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame. As one of the most dominant relievers ever, the Cardinals all-time roster needs him in the closer position.