The thing about the St. Louis Cardinals is that they are not only one of Major League Baseball’s best franchises right now, but all-time as well. And perhaps the premier franchise in the National Baseball League and haven’t had any real off decades were they weren’t contending at all, or stuck in mediocrity except for perhaps the 1970s and 90s. Where they didn’t make the NL Playoffs at all in the 70s and only made the NL Playoffs once in the 1990s.
Which would be 1996 Tony LaRussa’s first season in St. Louis, which means there are a lot of great player from the Cardinals to choose from a franchise that has won eleven MLB World Series. Something like twenty National League Championships and a bunch of division championships. A franchise that at best plays in a mid-size market in St. Louis, but has fans and reach that goes all over the Midwest. Especially the Western Midwest.
This would be my all-time Cardinals lineup as someone whose not even a Cardinals fan.
1. Leading off Lou Brock- I would have of course Lou Brock and in the outfield. The only leadoff hitter I would take over Brock would be Rickey Henderson. Brock stole over eight-hundred bases, hit around three-hundred in St. Louis scoring a lot of runs. And even had occasional power as a leadoff hitter.
2. Hitting 2nd and playing 2nd Base Rogers Hornsby- Perhaps the best all around 2nd Baseman of all-time hitting four-hundred with power twice in his career. Had a lot of great years in St. Louis.
3. Hitting 3rd and in the outfield Stan Musial- Even with Albert Pujols I still have Stan The Man as the greatest Cardinal of all-time. Especially considering he played his whole career in St. Louis. And by the time Big Al is done he may have played about half of his career somewhere else.
4. Cleanup Hitter Albert Pujols- With the Cardinals Big Al was not only the best hitter in baseball, but I believe the best all around player in baseball. And a very good first baseman as well.
5. Ken Boyer hitting fifth and playing 3B- A very solid power hitter with the Cardinals and a very good third baseman as well. Hit over two-hundred home runs in St. Louis and drove in over a thousand runs as well.
6. Hitting sixth and doing the catching Ted Simmons- Unfortunately for Ted Simmons he played for the Cardinals in the 1970s the entire decade. When they were in transition and no longer a NL contender. So he doesn’t get the respect owed to him for being a great player. But perhaps only Johnny Bench with the Cincinnati Reds was a better all around catcher than Ted Simmons in his era. Someone who hit three-hundred, with power and would drive in over a hundred runs as well. And was a very good defensive catcher as well.
7. Hitting seventh and playing in the outfield Enos Slaughter- With Enos Slaughter you have a three-hundred hitter hitting seventh for this Cardinals team. I have him there because the guys ahead of him have better power.
8. Hitting eighth the best all around defensive SS of all-time Ozzie Smith- Almost exclusively known as a great defender before he came to St. Louis, but someone who developed into a solid 270 hitter, run scorer and base stealer who fit the 1980s Cardinals offense perfectly as a solid contact hitter. Who didn’t strikeout with great speed who was also a great baserunner.
9. Hitting ninth and doing the pitching Bob Gibson- Bob Gibson might have been a better hitter than Ozzie Smith and you could go the other way with Gibson pitching. And have Lou Brock end up following Ozzie Smith and sorta have a lineup with two leadoff hitters. But Bob Gibson I believe is the greatest big game pitcher at least of his generation. And only Sandy Koufax was better in the 1960s.
You would win a lot of championships with this lineup. A team that could hit for power that wouldn’t need to score much with Bob Gibson pitching, but would be able to do so anyway. That would’ve also had a lot of speed and would’ve been able to steal a lot of bases as well.