Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Five: Top 5 Cardinals Left Fielders

5.  Vince Coleman 

Coleman spent six years with Cardinals from 1985 through 1990.  He was original called up to join the Cardinals to fill in for an injured Lonnie Smith, but his great play forced the Cardinals to deal Smith to the Royals in order to open up left field for Coleman.  During the 1985 Coleman hit .267/.320/.335 with a rookie record of 110 stolen bases.  He was awarded the National League Rookie of the Year and helped the Cardinals reach the playoffs that season.  While the Cardinals made it to the World Series, Coleman missed the playoffs that season after his leg got caught up in the automatic tarp at Busch Stadium.  Coleman stole 100 bases each of his first three season and would lead the National League all six seasons he played for the Cardinals.  Between September 1988 and July of 1989 he stole 50 consecutive bases breaking the old mark of 38 which was held by Davey Lopes.   He signed with the Mets after the 1990 season, but ended his Cardinals career with 628 steals.  Coleman is 6th all-time in Major League history and ended his 752 steals.  

4.  Matt Holliday 

The current left fielder ranks 4th all-time at a pretty position for the Cardinals.  Holliday has 6 years with the Cardinals under his belt and has posted a .300/.386/.505 line with 132 home runs, 201 doubles, and 519 RBIs.  He also helped the Cardinals to the 2011 World Series pennant, 2013 National League pennant, and 3 other playoff appearances for a total of 5 in six years.  Holliday is generally under appreciated player, by both Cardinals fans and non-Cardinals fans, but has been a very good and very consistent player for more than a decade.  His best season with the Cardinals probably came in 2010 when he hit .312/.390/.532 with 28 home runs, 103 RBIs, an OPS+ of 149, and a WAR of 5.2.  Holliday is still under contract with the Cardinals for two more years, but at 35 Holliday's best years are probably past him.  Still a great Cardinal.  

3.  Lou Brock 

Top 3 on my list is all Hall of Famers.  Pretty tough to put Lou Brock as the third best left fielder in Cardinals history, but I believe this is where he belongs on this list.  Brock came over to the Cardinals in a lopsided trade with the Cubs, an attempt to counter the Dodgers and Maury Wills, and immediately helped the Cardinals win the 1964 World Series.  Lou went on to spend 16 years as a Cardinals where he crossed the 3,000 hit mark and retired as the all-time stolen base leader with 938 thefts.  His best season came in 1968 when led the National League in triples, doubles, and steals and helped the team reach the 7th game of the World Series.  Brock also would set the single season mark, which has since been broken, in 1974 with 118 steals.  In all Brock led the Cardinals to two World Series titles (1964 and 1967) and a National League Crown (1968).  While Brock has a lot of hits and a lot of steals, there are not a lot of other numbers to his career stats.  While he was primarily a lead off hitter his career OBP was only .343.  Jay Jaffe rates him as the 35th best left fielder of all-time using his JAWS rating system right behind Matt Holliday.  

2.  Joe Medwick 

Medwick was a key cog on the 1930s Cardinals teams and a really underrated player in Cardinals history.  Why hasn't the team retired his number?  Medwick was a Cardinal was 11 seasons, 9 years to start his career, then 2 more at the very end.  We are mainly going to deal with the first 9.  The last two seasons totaled 95 games and just 186 plate appearances.  So, back to those first nine years.  It's not quite Albert Pujols, but it's not that far away either.  His best years with the Cardinals were probably 1936 and 1937.  In 1936 Medwick led the National League in hits (223), doubles (64), RBIs (138), while hitting .351/.387/.577.  He also had 13 triples and 18 home runs that season.  In 1937 Medwick led the NL in runs (111), hits (237), doubles (56), home runs (31), RBIs (154), batting average (.374), slugging .641), OPS (1.056), OPS+ (182), and total bases (406).  Medwick won the Triple Crown and the MVP that season and is the last National League player to accomplish the feat.    Easily one of the best offensive seasons in team history.  Medwick's numbers with the Cardinals declined after his Triple Crown run, but he still hit above .300 for the last 3 years of his good years with the club.  He spent a few years with the Dodgers and Giants and a half a year with the Braves before finishing his career back with the Cardinals.  Joe Medick was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1968.  

1.  Stan Musial 

I thought the answer was right field, but Stan actually played more games in left field than any other place on the field.  I was surprised, but if Stan is on a bunch of these countdowns nobody is really going to complain.  It's not like I put on the pitchers list (1 game) or center fielder list (331 games).  What has not been said about Stan on previous posts?  Greatest Cardinals ever, World Series winner, MVP awards, harmonicas, and just generally awesomeness as a baseball player.  If you want a rehash of the numbers, consult my first base post here, which also includes an awesome Seinfeld video with Keith Hernandez.   


  1. Good list. I think you could go either way on Brock versus Holliday in the rankings, depending on whether you value longevity or peak value more. When do we get CF?

    1. CF is next week. You're going to be disappointed, but no Colby.

    2. If you look at the Franchise history on Baseball Reference under Opening Day starters who can find The Wonder Dog as a starting CF.

  2. Love Vince Coleman.100 + steals Is nothing to sneeze at.It was nice to see him as a Met albeit for a little while.

    1. I have always wondered if Vince would have fallen off he had stayed on the Cardinals or if it was inevitable that his career dropped off. He wasn't bad on the Mets, but he couldn't stay on the field, after that it just did not end well.