As we continue to take a look back (For example, our favorite songs to work to in 2019, in case you missed it.) before moving forward into 2020, it seemed only natural that as a proud sponsor of the St. Louis Cardinals, we take a look back at how they fared in the just-completed decade.
By any measure, the 2010s were a successful decade for the Saint Louis Cardinals with six playoff appearances, 4 division titles, 2 NL pennants, and one World Series win. There have been a lot of fantastic players to rotate through the Mound City in the past 10 years and while at some positions it was hard to settle on one player of the decade, here is my best starting lineup of the Cardinals in the 2010s, based on the best season at each position during the decade.
I used the Baseball Reference version of WAR, or Wins Above Replacement, which seeks to measure how much better a particular player is than an average player that would typically be available to replace that player. If you really want to nerd-out on that statistic, I suggest clicking on that link. For our purposes, the higher the WAR, the better the player vs. A replacement.
So, without further ado, here is the St. Louis Cardinals Team of the 2010’s:
C – Yadier Molina (2012) – 7.2 bwar
The 2012 Cardinals team was a disappointment coming off of the back of a World Series win in 2011, but the team did have several bright spots. The brightest among them was Yadier Molina who reached the peak of his Hall of Fame career with a slash line of .313/.373/.501 while providing Gold Glove defense. Molina would finish 4th in the NL MVP vote.
1B – Albert Pujols (2010) – 7.5 bwar
Coming off of back-to-back MVP wins in 2008 and 2009, Pujols hadn’t yet begun his steep decline that would be the hallmark of his time with the Angels. During the 2010 season, El Hombre reached the milestones of 400 home runs, 400 doubles, and 1200 RBIs while he slashed an impressive .312/.414/.596. Unfortunately, the Cardinals weren’t as impressive in 2010 as they finished 2nd in the Central to the Reds, missing the playoffs.
2B – Matt Carpenter (2013) – 6.5 bwar
The ultimate Swiss Army Knife of the decade for the Cardinals, Carpenter hit his peak in 2013 while plying his trade as the teams starting 2nd baseman. Not known for his glove, Carpenter made noise with his bat, leading the NL in hits (199), doubles (55), and runs (126). Finishing just behind Molina in MVP voting at a very respectable 4th, Carpenter helped push the Cardinals into the World Series where they ran headlong into an impossibly red-hot David Ortiz and the Red Sox.
3B – Matt Carpenter (2015) – 4.0 bwar
Fast forward a couple of years and Kolten Wong has taken over as the regular 2nd baseman and Carpenter has shifted to 3rd base. Starting off the season hot, Carpenter hit doubles in 7 consecutive games, which tied the Cardinals’ franchise record. In a season that was overshadowed by allegations that a Cardinals’ employee had hacked into the Houston Astros’ system, Carpenter quietly had a fantastic season. For the second time in his career, he led the NL in doubles (44) and had a slash line of .272/.365/.505.
Despite winning the Central, the Cardinals would fall to the rival Cubs in the NLDS.
SS – Jhonny Peralta (2014) – 5.9 bwar
The 2010s has been an interesting decade for Cardinals’ shortstops. The decade began with Brendan Ryan manning the position and Paul DeJong ending it. Smack in the middle of the decade was Jhonny Peralta’s best year with the Cardinals. With a powerful bat, Peralta lead NL shortstops in hits (147), RBIs (75), and tied the lead with home runs (21). Unfortunately, Peralta’s star would quickly fall and by 2016 he lost his starting spot to Aledmys Díaz.
LF – Matt Holliday (2010) – 5.9 bwar
In his first full season as a Cardinal, Matt Holliday displayed why he was much sought after in the 2009 trade deadline. With 45 doubles and 109 RBIs, Holliday provided a power bat in the #2 spot of the lineup. Holliday was able to shake some of the negative press he’d accrued in a forgettable stint in Oakland. Over seven seasons in St. Louis, Holliday would play over 900 games and hit .288 over that span. All while sporting the sexiest forearms in the game.
CF – Colby Rasmus (2010) – 3.6 bwar
Once heralded as a player in the mold of Mickey Mantle, Rasmus never lived up to the hype given to him as a prospect. He did however, have a very solid season in 2010. Batting cleanup behind Albert Pujols, Rasmus hit 54 extra base hits while providing effective cover for his superstar teammates in Pujols and Holliday. Despite his 2010 performance, Rasmus’ greatest contribution to the Cardinals in the 2010s was being traded to the Blue Jays in a trade that brought Octavio Dotel, Edwin Jackson, and Marc Rzepczynski to the Cardinals. All of whom played key roles in the 2011 World Series win.
RF – Carlos Beltran (2012) – 3.6 bwar
With his status as a future HOFer coming under fire due to the with the Astros’ spying scandal, Beltran had two very good seasons with the Cardinals, the best of which came in 2012. With 32 home runs and 97 RBIs, Beltran brought another hot stick to a lineup that featured a prime Allan Craig, Matt Holliday, David Freese, and Yadier Molina. The 2012 Cardinals snuck into the playoffs and Beltran shined, hitting .357 over 12 games as the Cardinals ultimately fell in 6 games to the San Francisco Giants.
SP – Adam Wainwright (2013) – 6.2 bwar
Following a disappointing 2012 season, Wainwright returned to his form as the Cardinals’ ace. In 2013 he lead the NL with 19 wins, and innings (241.2), while sporting a 2.94 ERA. Leading a rotation that included a young Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, and Shelby Miller, Waino helped pull the Cardinals to the postseason. In the NLDS he was unhittable against the Pirates in his two starts giving up two earned runs in 16 innings. Unfortunately, like all things regarding the 2013 Cardinals, Wainwright eventually ran into David Ortiz in the World Series.
RP – Seunghwan Oh (2016) – 2.7 bwar
Signed after the Cardinals had scouted him in Asia for seven years, Oh didn’t disappoint as he slotted into the set up role for closer Trevor Rosenthal. By the end of June, Rosenthal hit some control issues and Oh stepped into the role as closer, along with Kevin Siegrist and Jonathan Broxton. By the end of the season, Oh had 19 saves in 23 chances, a 1.92 ERA, and 14 holds, establishing him as one of the top relievers in the NL.