The Best and Worst Cardinals of the Decade

The Cardinals have used a lot of players over the last 10 years (209 by my count). Some have been very good, some very bad, and some have been unfairly grouped in either of those 2 groups.  Below I’ll look at the top 10 Cardinals of the last 10 years by bWAR, the bottom 5, and the All-Decade Team.

The Best

  1. Yadier Molina, C, 32.1 bWAR: Molina was the only player that played the 10 full seasons for the Cardinals.  While his bat has cooled off over the last couple of years, he’s still a pretty useful player.  He’s still one of the better defensive catchers in the league and he’s the heart of the team.
  2. Matt Carpenter, 1B/2B/3B, 26.6 bWAR: Carpenter has had moments where he’s been an MVP candidate and moments where the fan-base wants him gone.  He’s bounced around most of the infield during the decade and pretty much has established he’s not very good at any of them.  If he can bounce back, he could have some future value for the team.
  3. Adam Wainwright, RHP, 25.5 bWAR: Waino was also on the roster for the full 10 years, but he missed 2011 with Tommy John surgery.  He also missed other time over the decade, but he’s continued to evolve and be a contributor.  He bounced back with a solid 2019 and looks like he could be around for another couple of years.
  4. Matt Holliday, OF, 20.8 bWAR: We got to see the best of Holliday this decade and the worst.  As his career went on, his effectiveness as a hitter and fielder went.  He wasn’t a horrible player at the end, but you could see the writing on the wall.
  5. Kolten Wong, 2B, 15.6 bWAR: I’m sure many hate to see Wong this high; yeah, he might have had some light hitting years, but his defense is top notch and has generated most of this WAR.  He’s also taken a step forward with the bat in the last 2 years and was probably the most consistent player on the team last season.
  6. Carlos Martinez, RHP, 15.1 bWAR: Imagine where Martinez would be if he could have been healthy and stuck in the rotation.  My guess is probably closer to Holliday with 5 additional wins on his total.
  7. Lance Lynn, RHP, 13.8 bWAR: I miss Lynn on the team.  He was a great interview and underrated as a pitcher.  While his bWAR might be low on a per season basis, he did put together a few good years.  Right now, he’d be a welcome addition to the rotation.
  8. Albert Pujols, 1B, 12.8 bWAR: I was a little surprised by this, because I don’t associate Pujols with the Cardinals this decade.  We got to see the last 2 good years of his career in 2010 and 2011 and him lift the World Series trophy (maybe for the last time).  He’s second in bWAR/Season for the decade (behind Jason Heyward).
  9. Jon Jay, OF, 11.0 bWAR: I think Jay could have been higher if his managers would have played him as more of a platoon player.  When they tried him as an everyday guy, he’d get over-exposed and his numbers would drop by the end of the season.  I’d be curious to see how he’d be handled now with the current outfield situation.
  10. Paul DeJong, SS, 10.6 bWAR: DeJong has pretty much 3 seasons in the majors and has averaged 3.5 bWAR/Season, 4th for the decade.  He also missed half a season with a hand injury and struggled the second half of this past season.  He’s got a chance to be higher up for next decade.

Honorable Mentions: Jaime Garcia (9.6), Jedd Gyorko (8.7), Tommy Pham (8.3), Jack Flaherty (8.2), Michael Wacha (7.4)

The Bottom

  1. Tony Cruz, C, -2.6 bWAR: Being the caddy for Molina is a thankless job and Cruz made it easy for management for let Yadi play every day.
  2. Mike Mayers, RHP, -1.6 bWAR: Mayers never had a positive WAR season, yet the Cardinals kept trying to get him the ball.  He’s now the Angels problem.
  3. Greg Holland, RHP, -1.5 bWAR: Holland was so good at one point, so it was no wonder the team wanted to bring him in to close.  The issue was he was rushed to the Majors with no spring training; one he was released, he pitched well with the Nationals.
  4. Blake Hawksworth, LHP, -1.2 bWAR: Hawksworth was one of those guys that had all of the potential in the world; the issue was he struggled to stay healthy.  His first season in the majors was much better (1.0 bWAR), but it was during the previous decade.
  5. Oscar Taveras, OF, -1.2 bWAR: He shouldn’t be on here.  While there were struggles his rookie season, he was poised to breakout within the next 2 years.  Unfortunately, his untimely death means he didn’t get to prove what he could do.

Honorable Mentions: Ryan Franklin (-1.0), Francisco Pena (-1.0)

The All Decade Team

For this team, I’m building a realistic 25-man roster based off their bWAR for the decade.  I placed a player where he made the most sense; Carpenter spent more time at 3B than he did at 1B or 2B.  I also built the bench based off how a real bench would be built; so Wieters is the back-up catcher because he had the second highest bWAR for catchers on the team.

The only judgment call for hitters was for the final bench spot; Allen Craig and Heyward both were worth 6.6 bWAR during the decade.  I went with Craig because he spent more time with the team (some might see that as a negative though) and he didn’t leave the team for the Cubs.

For pitching, I could have built a bullpen out of starters; the best reliever on the team was Trevor Rosenthal and he was behind a lot of starters.  I wasn’t going to worry about lefty/righty relievers, but Kevin Siegrist proved to be worth more than most of the other relivers they’ve used over the last 10 years.

C – Yadier Molina
1B – Albert Pujols
2B – Kolten Wong
3B – Matt Carpenter
SS – Paul DeJong
LF – Matt Holliday
CF – Jon Jay
RF – Tommy Pham
DH – Jedd Gyorko
B – Matt Wieters
B – Jhonny Peralta
B – Allen Craig
B – Randal Grichuk
SP – Adam Wainwright
SP – Carlos Martinez
SP – Lance Lynn
SP – Jaime Garcia
SP – Jack Flaherty
CL – Trevor Rosenthal
RP – Jason Motte
RP – Kevin Siegrist
RP – Joe Kelly
RP – Edward Mujica
RP – Seung-Hwan Oh
RP – Dakota Hudson
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