2003 Upper Deck Masters with the Leather #L11 Scott Rolen
On January 18th, the Cardinals revealed the eight players who will be on this year's St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame ballot. Voting will begin in March. Let's have a look at the candidates and attempt to rank them.
1. Chris Carpenter
Carp spent nine seasons with the Cardinals. During that time, he compiled a win-loss record of 95-44. He was an All-Star in 2005, the same year he won the NL Cy Young Award. Furthermore, he is the only Cardinals pitcher other than Bob Gibson to receive that honor. In addition, he was a member of the 2006 and 2011 World Series Champions.
Carpenter is a shoe-in in his first year on the ballot. He was the Cardinals ace for nine seasons and is beloved by fans.
2. Mark McGwire
McGwire was the Cardinals first baseman and premier power hitter for five seasons. In 1998, he led a home run race to break Roger Maris' single season record of 61. McGwire finished the season with the record, bashing 70 home runs. In 1999, he followed up with 65 home runs. It created a frenzy in St. Louis and across the nation. Baseball hadn't rebounded from the 1994 players' strike and Mark, Sammy Sosa, and Ken Griffey, Jr. spurred a nation to talk about baseball again. Since that time, two of those players were linked to use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). McGwire was one of those two players.
We'll see what the sentiment of the voters is when the ballots are tallied. Mark's legacy is marred by the PED scandal, but trends start in St. Louis. The fans inducted Curt Flood in 2015 although he had been shunned by baseball for more than 50 years due to challenging the reserve clause. We'll look to St. Louis in August to see if it's time to heal the wounds of the steroid era.
3. Matt Morris
Matty Mo pitched in St. Louis for the first eight seasons of his eleven-year career. During that time, he compiled 101 wins and 986 strike outs. He was an All-Star in 2001 when he posted 22 wins. In addition, Matt was a member of the 2004 NLCS Champions.
When Matt was good, he was great. When he faltered, Chris Carpenter came along to steal the fans' hearts. We think Matt will fall just short this cycle due to being overshadowed by the presence of Chris Carpenter on the ballot.
4. Edgar Renteria
Renteria played six seasons with the Cardinals. He had a career year with the Cardinals, hitting .330, driving in 100 runs, and scoring 96 runs. He was a three-time All-Star with the team. During the 2004 World Series, Edgar was one of the few Cardinals that hit well. He batted .333 while posting an RBI and scoring 2 runs.
Renteria was a fan favorite while he was in St. Louis. It helped that he was the guy who replaced the guy who replaced Ozzie Smith. In addition, Edgar provided a solid bat in the two-spot and added a little pop to the lineup. While with the club, he hit 71 home runs. That's 1 more than he hit in his other 10 seasons combined. It's difficult to gauge how voters will remember Edgar. He was part of the 2004 NLCS champions that were swept by the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, but who can forget about the way he approached his work and that infectious smile?
5. Jason Isringhausen
Izzy was the Cardinals closer for seven seasons. He is the Cardinals all-time saves leader with 217. In addition, he posted a 2.98 ERA during that time while recording 373 strike outs. Isringhausen was also a member of the 2006 World Series Champions, but missed the postseason due to injury.
Jason is a likely inductee. He was well-liked and lights-out during his time with the Cardinals. Although Isringhausen certainly personifies a St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famer, he may be left out due to fans' fondness for Matt Morris or Edgar Renteria.
6. Keith Hernandez
Hernandez spent his first ten seasons in a Cardinals uniform. He didn't display the typical power required of a first baseman, but was a run-producing machine. He posted 595 RBI while with the team and scored 662 runs. In addition, his defense has been compared to that of Brooks Robinson. Hernandez appeared in the All-Star Game twice while with the Cardinals and was a member of the 1982 World Series Champions.
Keith might have a rough time earning the honor while fellow first baseman Mark McGwire is still on the ballot. In addition, Hernandez earned the ire of Cardinals fans during his time with the Mets.
7. Scott Rolen
Rolen spent six seasons in a Cardinals uniform. During that time, he batted over .300 only once, but hit 20+ home runs on three different occasions. Most believe that Scott was the most well-rounded Cardinals third baseman since Ken Boyer, not to mention arguably the best defensive third baseman to ever play the game.
We won't say that Scott has no chance of being inducted in his first year on the ballot, but he has stiff competition. Although Rolen was a solid player for the Cardinals, his performance may be overshadowed by the many injuries that plagued his tenure with the Cardinals and his inability to come through in the clutch during the postseason. Despite all that, he was a member of the 2006 World Series Champions and a 2-time All-Star while with the team.
8. Joe Torre
Torre spent six seasons playing for the Cardinals and managed the team for six seasons. As a player, Joe was a solid hitter, never batting below .280 while with the club. In addition, he hit 98 home runs and posted 558 RBI. As a manager, Torre was less than acceptable, winning 351 games and losing 354. After leaving St. Louis, Joe redeemed himself with the Yankees, showing the world that if you give him a ton of talent he can get the job done. But then again, with players like Derek Jeter, Andy Pettite, Bernie Williams, Roger Clemens, Paul O'Neill, David Justice, and Mariano Rivera, who wouldn't win a few championships?
We think it's a long-shot that Torre gets inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame anytime soon. It has been over forty years since Torre took the field for the Cardinals and people who actually saw him play are getting fewer in number every day. On the other hand, the sour taste of hearing the words "former Cardinals manager, Joe Torre" still leaves a sour taste on the tongues of fans and will for many years to come.