The American Association folded at the conclusion of 1891 and the St. Louis Browns rejoined the National League as part of the newly reformed 12-team circuit. The Browns played in Sportsman's Park at Grand and Dodier. The St. Louis franchise has had continuous membership in the National League ever since.
Von der Ahe was offered a larger property at Vandeventer and Natural Bridge Avenues, so Chris and his corporation moved Sportsman's Park to the new location. The last (exhibition) game at the Grand Avenue ballpark (Sportsman's Park) was April 23rd vs. Cincinnati and the club moved to the new grounds to be ready for the home opener on April 27th. The park was known as New Sportsman's Park.
After several years of second-division baseball and a disastrous fire, Chris Von der Ahe and his corporation were bankrupt. The Robison Brothers stepped in to purchase the Browns.
The Robison Brothers, Frank and Stanley, discarded the name of Browns, calling the St. Louis National Leaguers the Perfectos. The ownership also discarded the old Sportsman's Park name in favor of League Park. The team was outfitted in red striped stockings and red-trimmed uniforms. When sportswriter Willie McHale, of the St. Louis Republic, heard a lady fan remark, "What a lovely shade of cardinal," the new nickname was used in his column, and struck a chord with St. Louis fans.
The team officially changed its name from the Perfectos to the Cardinals in 1900.
An American League team came to St. Louis, taking up the old Browns team name, and since they moved into the original Grand Avenue ballpark, they readily took on the old "Sportsman's Park" name.
The ownership of the club passed to Frank Robison's daughter, Mrs. Helene Hathaway Britton. League Park was renamed Robison Field in memory of her father and uncle, the former owners.
In Miller Huggins' second year, the Cardinals finished the season in third place. It was something of a sensation because a St. Louis National League team had not finished that high since 1877.
After the season, Mrs. Britton sold her stock in the club to her attorney, James C. Jones, and stockholders, including a St. Louis automobile dealer named Sam Breadon.
The fan-controlled club needed a baseball man to run it. They found one in Branch Rickey, then business manager of the A.L. Browns. Rickey was named president, however the club continued to struggle financially. Mr. Breadon was called upon frequently for financial assistance. Robison Field was renamed Cardinal Field.
Sam Breadon became president and majority stockholder of the Cardinals, and Branch Rickey moved to Vice President and General Manager. This leadership team successfully developed the Cardinals, leading them to their first World Championship in 1926. One of Breadon's first moves was to sell Cardinal Field and become tenants of the St. Louis Browns at Sportsman's Park. Branch Rickey used proceeds from the sale of the ballpark to invest in the first Cardinals farm club affiliation at Houston, TX.
Rogers Hornsby won the Triple Crown with 42 home runs, 152 RBI and a .401 batting average.
Hornsby won the batting title with a .424 average, the highest mark in the National League since 1900. Hornsby's .424 batting average was the highest mark in the 20th century. His .358 career average trails only Ty Cobb (.366) on the all-time list.
Hornsby won his second Triple Crown with 39 home runs, 143 RBI and a .403 average. On Memorial Day, Rogers Hornsby was named manager of the club, succeeding Branch Rickey. Rickey became strictly a front office man, and a very successful one, building a reputation for his excellent eye for raw talent and thrifty dealings. The Cardinals had six farm teams in 1925, and that number increased over the next few years to help fuel their growing success story.
In their first World Series appearance, the Cardinals, led by player-manager Hornsby, edged the Yankees in a seven games. The team led the N.L. in eight offensive categories. Their 90 home runs led the league, while their 82 triples placed them second. They were not caught stealing once (83 SB). Veteran 39-year-old righthander Grover Cleveland Alexander, obtained by the Redbirds in a midseason trade with the Chicago Cubs, won the second and sixth games of the Series, then came on to save the seventh game.
The Cardinals won the pennant behind Jim Bottomley's 93 extra base hits and a staff that completed 83 games, but they were swept by the Yankees in the Series. Babe Ruth batted .625 for the Series and hit three home runs in one game, and Lou Gehrig batted .545 with nine RBI. Four of Gehrig's six hits were home runs.
On September 28, the last game of the season, 19-year-old Jay Hanna "Dizzy" Dean made his big league debut, pitching a complete game three-hitter in a Cardinals win. The team won the pennant but dropped the Series to Philadelphia that year, 4-2. Cardinal victories were pitched by Bill Hallahan, 5-0 in the third game, and Jesse Haines, 3-1 in the fourth.
In Pepper Martin's (the "Wild Horse of the Osage") rookie season the Cardinals avenged their loss to Philadelphia, taking the Series in seven games. Martin stole five bases, collected 12 hits and batter .500. Bill Hallahan and Burleigh Grimes each pitched two victories for the Cardinals.
Dizzy Dean won 18 games in his rookie campaign after spending all of 1931 in Houston, in the Texas League. He led the league in strikeouts (191), shutouts(4) and innings pitched (286).
Leo (the Lip) Durocher's first year with the club and Joe Medwick's rookie season. Frankie (Fordham Flash) Frisch, at 34, played 2B while co-managing with Gabby Street.
The "Gas House Gang" won the National League pennant on the final day of the season, then defeated Detroit in the Series. Four games to three. Dizzy Dean predicted 45 wins between himself and his brother, Paul, a rookie. Dizzy won 30, his brother 19, for a total of 49 and each won two games in the Series. The final game of the Series, won by the Cardinals 11-0, was marked by Commissioner Kenesaw Landis' order to eject Joe "Muscles" Medwick from the game. Medwick had slid hard into Tigers third baseman, Marv Owen, in the sixth inning, so infuriating Detroit fans that they bombarded him with fruit, vegetables and debris when he took his position in left field in the bottom of the inning. Landis removed Medwick to halt the disturbance.
Joe Medwick won the Triple Crown with 31 home runs, 154 RBI and a .374 batting average. He remains the last National Leaguer to accomplish the feat.
After years of wrangling, the Browns and the Cardinals finally agreed to split the $150,000 cost of installing lights at the park. The Browns were given the honor of hosting the first night game in St. Louis on May 24th.The Cardinals first night game was on June 4. Medwick went 5-for-5, but the Birds were trounced by the Dodgers, 10-1. The All-Star Game was hosted by the Cardinals at Sportsman's Park on July 9th and a sellout crowd of 32,373 saw the National League win, 4-0. Johnny Mize hit a then club-record 43 home runs.
Winning 43 out of their last 51 games, St. Louis erased a 10.5 game deficit and passed Brooklyn on September 13th on their way to a world championship. The 106-48 Cardinals are considered won of baseball's all-time greatest teams; the average player age was under 27. Home-grown talents Enos (Country) Slaughter and Stan (The Man) Musial, a 21-year-old rookie, were products of Branch Rickey's farm system. Mort Cooper was N.L. MVP, posting 22 wins, seven losses and a 1.77 ERA. In the Series, the Cardinals lost the first game to the Yankees, then roared back to win four straight. Rookie pitcher Johnny Beazley won two games, lefthander Ernie White shut out the Yankees in the third game, and third baseman Whitey Kurowski belted an RBI-triple in the second game and a two-run, ninth-inning homer to clinch the finale.
N.L. MVP Musial led the league in batting average (.357); hits (220); doubles (48); triples (20); total bases (347); on-base average (.425); and slugging percentage (.562). The Cardinals dropped four of five to the Yankees in the World Series.
The Cardinals felled the St. Louis Browns in the cross-town champion's only World Series appearance. In this only all-St. Louis World Series, pitching dominated as the Cardinals defeated the Browns, four games to two. The two teams combined to strike out a six-game Series-record 92 batters, 49 by Cardinal pitchers and 43 by Browns hurlers. Emil Verban topped Cardinal hitters with a .412 average. The Series was dubbed the "Streetcar Series" as many fans used that mode of travel to and from the ballpark.
Home paid attendance topped 1 million for the first time. The Cardinals and Dodgers finished the season in a tie for first in the N.L., the first time that occurred in the major leagues. Stan Musial won the N.L. MVP award, leading the league in nearly every offensive category. Enos Slaughter led the league with 130 RBIs. The Cardinals took a three-game series with the Dodgers to decide the N.L., then defeated Boston in a seven-game World Series. Harry "the Cat" Brecheen won three games for the Redbirds. In the bottom of the eighth inning of the seventh game, with the score tied at 3 to 3, Enos Slaughter singled, then scored all the way from first on Harry Walker's double to left-center. Slaughter's "Mad Dash" surprised Red Sox relay man Johnny Pesky, whose moment's hesitation allowed Slaughter to score the winning run.
At the end of the season, Breadon, his health failing, sold out to Robert E. Hannegan (then Postmaster General of the United States) and Fred Saigh. Hannegan served as president until 1949, selling his share to Saigh.
Stan Musial won his third N.L. Most Valuable Player award and led the league in nearly every batting department - average (.376); runs (135); hits (230); total bases (429); doubles (46); triples (18); runs batted in (131); and slugging percentage (.702). The St. Louis Browns hosted the All-Star Game at Sportsman's Park on July 13.
The Cardinals played their first night opener in St. Louis.
In late 1952, when it appeared that Fred Saigh might sell the club to out-of-town interests who might seek to move it, Anheuser-Busch, Inc., led by its president, August A. Busch Jr., stepped in and purchased the club. The sale was announced on February 20, 1953.
Bill Veeck, owner of the A.L. Browns knew as soon as the sale of the Cardinals to Anheuser-Busch, Inc. was announced, he would seek to sale his team. Veeck negotiated the sale of Sportsman's Park to A-B on April 9. Following the 1953 season, the park was renovated and renamed Busch Stadium. The Browns were sold to a group of Baltimore investors and left St. Louis to become the Orioles.
Musial hit five home runs in a May 2 double-header against the Giants at Busch Stadium.
Musial established an N.L. endurance record by extending his streak of consecutive games played to 895 before being forced to the bench by injury. The mishap occurred at Philadelphia on August 22, when he tore a muscle and chipped a bone in his shoulder blade as he swung at and missed a high, outside pitch. He won the batting title with a .351 average.
Musial, pinch-hitting in the sixth inning, doubled against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on M
Musial, nearing his 42nd birthday, made a bid for his eighth batting title by hitting .330, but Tommy Davis of the Los Angeles Dodgers won the crown with a .346 mark. Twenty-three-year-old Bob Gibson was recalled from the minors.
Musial, who won seven N.L. batting titles in his 22-year career with the Cardinals and had a lifetime average of .331, announced his retirement. His famous No. 6 became the first Cardinal number to be retired on September 29. The All-Star infield of Julian Javier, Dick Groat, Ken Boyer and Bill White set the tone for 1964.
St. Louis won its first National League pennant in 18 years and defeated the New York Yankees four games to three to win the World Series. It was a team effort as Bob Gibson won two games; Ken Boyer hit a grand slam to win the fourth game; Tim McCarver, who batted a Series-high .478, smashed a 10th-inning home run to win the fifth game; and Ron Taylor and Roger Craig combined for 9.2 scoreless innings of relief.
The Cardinals ended a 47-year stay in old Busch Stadium, closing out the old ballpark in a 10-5 loss to San Francisco May 8. After a two-game series in Chicago, the Cardinals returned home May 12 to Busch Memorial Stadium, their new 50,000-seat ballpark in downtown St. Louis where the Cardinals christened the new playground with a 12-inning, 5-4 win over Atlanta. The Cardinals also hosted the All-Star game in their new park in July.
The Cardinals won 101 games and rolled to the pennant by a margin of 10-1/2 games. Bob Gibson pitched three complete-game victories and Lou Brock put on one of the finest offensive displays in World Series history as the Cardinals were crowned World Champions by defeating the Boston Red Sox, four games to three.
The Cards won their second straight pennant as Bob Gibson was nearly invincible with a 22-9 record, leading the NL with a 1.12 earned run average, 268 strikeouts and 13 shutouts as he captured the NL Most Valuable Player award and became the first Cardinal ever to win the Cy Young Award. In World Series play, the Cardinals led three games to one, but the Detroit Tigers rallied to win the last three contests and claim their first World Championship since 1945.
Joe Torre led the NL in hitting (.363), hits (230) and runs batted in (137) while popping 24 homers on his way to the NL Most Valuable Player award. Bob Gibson threw a no-hitter at Pittsburgh on Aug. 14, Steve Carlton went 20-9, and Lou Brock led the NL with 64 stolen bases, becoming the first Major League player to steal 50 or more in seven consecutive seasons.
Lou Brock stole 118 bases to break Maury Wills' single-season mark and moved from ninth to second on the all-time career stolen base list, while Bob Gibson struck out the 3,000th batter of his career. The Cardinals drew more than 1,800,000 fans, the third-highest home attendance in their history.
John Denny wins the National League ERA title at age 23, tying youngest right-hander to win ERA title in N.L. Lou Brock gets 2700th hit of his career and closes to within 27 of tying Ty Cobb's stolen base record.
Lou Brock breaks Ty Cobb's career stolen base mark with number 893 in San Diego, August 29. Garry Templeton becomes youngest M.L. shortstop ever to gather 200 hits in a season. Templeton leads majors with 18 triples, highest number since 1957. Ted Simmons sets club record for home runs by a catcher with 21. Ken Reitz sets new fielding record with N.L. third baseman by committing only 9 errors. Bob Forsch wins 20 games.
Bob Forsch no hits Phillies 5-0, April 16 at Busch Stadium. Manager, Vern Rapp dismissed April 24. Ken Boyer becomes Cardinal manager April 29. Ted Simmons sets club season record and career high with 22 homers for a catcher. George Hendrick has 7 RBI's at Atlanta, August 25. Busch Memorial Stadium gets new astroturf.
Lou Brock collected his 3000th career hit (single off Dennis Lamp) in the 4th inning against the Cubs on August 13 at Busch Stadium. On September 23, Brock stole his 938th base making him baseball's all-time stolen base leader surpassing William (Sliding Billy) Hamilton. Keith Hernandez wins batting title with .344 average and is co-winner of National League M.V.P. award with Pittsburgh's Willie Stargell. Garry Templeton led N.L. with 211 hits. Templeton also led the league in triples with 19, for the third year in a row, setting a new N.L. record and tying the major league mark. His 19 triples are highest number since 1957. He became the first switch-hitter in major league history to collect 100 hits, both right and left-handed, in one season. Garry finished with 100 hits RH and 111 hits LH. Ted Simmons hit a career high 26 home runs, which also set a club record for homers by a catcher.
Ken Reitz sets new fielding record for N.L. third baseman by committing only 8 errors. Dane Iorg has 7 RBI's, August 28 vs. Atlanta. Manager Ken Boyer dismissed June 8. Whitey Herzog becomes Cardinal manager June 9. On August 18, John Claiborne fired as G.M. and Herzog named G.M. on August 29. Red Schoendienst served as interim manager for balance of season. On October 24, Herzog assumed dual role of general manager and field manager.
The Cardinals finished the season with the best winning percentage in the Eastern Division, but missed the playoffs because they finished second in each of the two sections of the schedule, revised due to the mid-summer players' strike. The Philadelphia Phillies, leaders when the strike began, were voted the first-half championship (however, the Phillies, Cardinals, and Cincinnati Reds voted against it), while Montreal won the second half. In each half, the Cardinals played fewer games than the winners, and could have tied or won either half with the opportunity to play the same number of games. Bruce Sutter, one of several players obtained in winter trades by Whitey Herzog, won the Rolaids Relief Man award.
In order to concentrate more on managing, Whitey Herzog stepped down as General Manager on Opening Day, turning the reins over to Joe McDonald. The move paid off as the Cardinals stayed in first place for only 48 days of the season and claimed their first ever National League East Championship. A 3-0 sweep of the Atlanta Braves put the Cards in their 13th World Series against the Milwaukee Brewers who fell 4-3 to St. Louis in the 'Fall Classic.' The 1982 team was characterized by an aggressive running style of baseball; seven players stole bases in double figures, led by team catalyst Lonnie Smith, who swiped 68. The team hit only 67 home runs, the fewest in the major leagues. Strong and consistent pitching performances were the rule; prior to clinching the title the Cardinals never lost more than three games in a row. Bruce Sutter had a hand in almost half of the team's victories.
Despite the fact that the 1983 Cardinals finished in fourth place, eleven games out, the team was competitive and exciting, although inconsistent, throughout much of the season. The team climbed to within a half-game of the division lead on September 5 before embarking on a thirteen-day road during which the starting rotation struggled. The running Redbirds set a new club record with 207 stolen bases. Danny Cox made his way from extended spring training to make the rotation. Bob Forsch pitched the second no-hitter of his career. George Hendrick moved to first base after Keith Hernandez was traded to the Mets; he earned a spot on the Silver Slugger and All-Star Teams. Ozzie Smith won his fourth straight Gold Glove and Willie McGee won his first.
The Cardinals got off to a bad start in 1984 and dwelled in fifth place for much of the first half of the season before turning things around after the All-Star break to finish with a winning record (84-78). Following the mid-summer classic the Cards posted a 42-33 record, second in the N.L. That surge lifted the Cards into a third-place finish in the division at year's end despite contending with many injuries. The team's 220 stolen bases broke the club record of 207 in 1983. They were the first major league team since the 1916 St. Louis Browns to steal 200 or more bases three years in a row. Bruce Sutter set a National League record and tied the major league record for saves in a season (45) and was Fireman of the Year. Joaquin Andujar (20-14, 12 CG, 4 SHO) became the club's first 20-game winner in seven seasons and won a Gold Glove. Rookie Terry Pendleton hit .324 after joining the club in July, sparking the team to a 41-29 record. The Cards drew over 2,000,000 fans for the third consecutive year.
The Cardinals lost their first four games, bounced back to 7-7, only to lose the next four. The next time they reached .500 was at 20-20, before turning it on. They finally made it to first-place on June 21, where they remained for most of the season. Five defeats in six games early in September left the Cardinals a game behind the New York Mets with 25 to play. But the Redbirds then won 14 of their next 15 and took the division title by three games with 101 victories. Willie McGee was the batting champion (at .353, a new high for a N.L. switch-hitter) and league Most Valuable Player; Vince Coleman was Rookie of the Year; and John Tudor and Joaquin Andujar each won 21 games while Danny Cox took 18. Willie McGee and Ozzie Smith won Gold Gloves again, and great starts by Tommy Herr (110 RBI) and Jack Clark (22 homers) contributed. Closer Todd Worrell was called up on August 28. In a great NLCS, the Cards dropped the first two games and then won four straight. Ozzie won Game 5 with a dramatic bottom-of-the-ninth home run off Tom Niedenfuer, his first ever homer batting left-handed. Down 5-4 with two out in the top of the ninth of Game 6, Jack Clark tagged Niedenfuer for a three-run homer to take the game and the series. In the World Series, Bret Saberhagen's Kansas City Royals defeated the Redbirds in seven games. The most memorable event of the series was Don Denkinger's blown call in the top of the ninth inning in Game 6, on Jorge Orta's leadoff grounder Don Denkinger call in the Game 6.
The defending National League Champions stumbled at the beginning of the season. After the first two months of the season the Cardinals had the worst record in the League. But the team righted itself posting winning records in each of the next four months to finish third in the National League's Eastern Division. Individually Vince Coleman stole 107 bases to become the first player ever to steal over 100 bases in each of his first two seasons and the first N.L. player to steal 100 bases twice; rookie left-hander Greg Mathews, who was promoted from Louisville, won 11 games in little more than half a season; Ozzie Smith won his seventh straight Gold Glove and Todd Worrell was named N.L. Rookie of the Year. Worrell blazed his way to a major league rookie record 36 saves, becoming the first rookie pitcher ever to lead the league in saves and the first rookie to earn N.L. Relief Pitcher of the Year honor...Three attendance milestones were hit and surpassed during the course of the season. The Cardinals reached the two million mark for the fifth consecutive year, drew the 75 millionth fan in the history of the franchise since 1900 and drew the 50 millionth fan to see the Redbirds play under Anheuser-Busch ownership.
Sparked by a potent offense, the Cardinals slipped no further than two games back in the N.L. East standings and claimed sole possession of first place on May 22. Beset by injuries to several key players throughout the season, manager Whitey Herzog made use of a mixture of experienced veterans and eager rookies to fill the voids created by injuries. The Cardinals extended their lead to 9-1/2 games on July 23 but saw the lead shrink to 1 game as late as Sept. 19. A come-from-behind win a New York on Sept. 11 followed by a doubleheader sweep of the Expos on Sept. 29, set the stage for the pennant clinching win over Montreal on Oct. 1. Several Cards enjoyed banner seasons offensively, including Vince Coleman (third straight season with 100 SB), Jack Clark (35 HR and 106 RBI), Ozzie Smith (.300 BA for first time in his career), Terry Pendleton (.286 BA and 96 RBI), Willie McGee (105 RBI). The Redbirds had four starters with 10 or more victories (John Tudor, Bob Forsch, Greg Mathews and Danny Cox) while rookie Joe Magrane showed much promise in his initial season. In the bullpen, Todd Worrell followed up his impressive rookie season with 33 saves and Ken Dayley overcame serious elbow surgery to post nine wins in relief. 1987 was a fantastic year at the gate as well, as the Cardinals drew a Major League leading 3,072,122 fans, becoming just the third club in M.L. history to surpass the three million mark in attendance.
After acquiring Tom Brunansky from Minnesota in April, the defending N.L. champions climbed within six games of first on June 12, but injuries to Bob Horner and Terry Pendleton crippled the offense. By the end of July, the Cardinals were 19 games out of first. Newcomer Jose DeLeon became the first Cards pitcher since 1972 to record 200 strikeouts. Sophomore hurler Joe Magrane won the N.L. ERA title with a 2.18 mark, despite winning just five games. Todd Worrell posted his third-straight 30-save season, and Vince Coleman led the league in stolen bases for the fourth consecutive year. Jose Oquendo became the first N.L. player since 1918 to play all nine positions in a season. Trades that brought Pedro Guerrero, Denny Walling and Brunansky to St. Louis also ended long-time affiliations with departing players Tom Herr, Bob Forsch and John Tudor. Despite finishing fifth, the club drew nearly 2.9 million fans to Busch.
Although the outlook was bleak when injuries crippled the pitching staff in spring training, the Cardinals remained in the race until the final week of the season. The Redbirds pulled within a half-game of the division-leading Chicago Cubs with a dramatic come-from-behind win on Sept. 9, but a six-game losing streak followed and the Cards sunk to third place on the final day of the season. Pedro Guerrero was spectacular in the clutch, batting .406 with runners in scoring position and leading the club with 117 RBI and a .311 batting average. Vince Coleman again led the league in stolen bases and set a major league record by stealing 50 consecutive bases without being caught, a streak begun in 1988. Despite the early concern over the pitching staff, Joe Magrane (18 wins) and Jose DeLeon (16) spearheaded the patched-up starting unit. The Cardinals set a club attendance record, attracting 3,080,980 fans during a season that ended on a sad note when long-time club president August A. Busch Jr. died at age 90.
Considered by many to be a contender following the spring training "lockout," the Cardinals never lived up to expectations and finished in last place for the first time since 1918. On July 5, Manager Whitey Herzog resigned after more than 10 years as the Cards' skipper. Interim manager Red Schoendienst took over until Aug. 2, when Joe Torre was named manager. Willie McGee won the league batting title (.335), despite being traded to Oakland in late August as the team made room for younger players. One of those was rookie catcher Todd Zeile, who led the team with 15 homers. John Tudor returned to the club and posted a team-high 12 wins but announced his retirement following the season. Vince Coleman led the league in steals for the sixth straight year, tying Maury Wills' N.L. record, and batted a career-high .292. Starting pitchers Jose DeLeon (a league-high 19 losses) and Joe Magrane (17 losses) were disappointments. Reliever Lee Smith was a steady closer following his acquisition in May, saving 27 games. Jose Oquendo set a major league record for fewest errors by a second baseman (three).
Coming off a last-place finish, the Cardinals were one of baseball's biggest surprises in 1991, moving up to second place in the N.L. East. Manager Joe Torre, in his first full season at the Cardinals' helm, opened the year with several unproven players at key positions. Among the young standouts were outfielders Ray Lankford and Felix Jose. Lankford led the majors with 15 triples and had a team-high 44 steals. Nine Cardinals stole 10 or more bases, the first time since 1917 that a team had done so. Former Athletic Jose, playing his first full season in the National League, led the Cardinals in batting (.305) and plugged Busch Stadium's spacious gaps with 40 doubles. Sophomore Todd Zeile made a fine transition from catcher to third base, leading the club with 11 homers and 81 RBI. Catcher Tom Pagnozzi, seeing his first full-time duty, earned a Gold Glove award. The season also was a good one for Cardinals named Smith. Lee Smith set an N.L. record with 47 saves and became only the fifth pitcher to record 300 career saves. Ozzie Smith set an N.L. record for fewest errors by a shortstop (eight) en route to winning his 12th Gold Glove. Bryn Smith's 12 wins paced the pitching staff, which was without Joe Magrane, Frank DiPino and Todd Worrell due to injuries. Young starters Ken Hill (11 wins) and Omar Olivares (11 wins), and reliever Cris Carpenter (10 wins) helped fill the void.
Though injuries took a toll in the Cardinals' centennial season, the team actually led the N.L. East by one game on June 1, despite losing three players in the first week of the season. Injuries or illnesses continued to mount, however, as the team lost shortstop Ozzie Smith to chicken pox for two weeks in late June and Omar Olivares and Rheal Cormier from the starting rotation. At second base, seven players were used. Ray Lankford, moved from first to third in the order, became the first Cardinal since Lou Brock in 1967 to hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases. Ozzie Smith tied Felix Jose for the club lead in batting (.295) and stole a team-high 43 bases. The "Wizard" also collected his 2,000th career hit and 500th stolen base, besides earning his 12th All-Star Game berth and 13th Gold Glove. Bob Tewksbury emerged as the No. 1 starter, winning 16 games and ranking second in the majors with a 2.16 ERA. He joined Smith on the N.L. All-Star squad, as did catcher Tom Pagnozzi, who tied a league mark with a .999 fielding average, and reliever Lee Smith, who led the league in saves (43) for the second straight season. Smith received help in the bullpen from Todd Worrell, who, after missing the last two seasons to injury, moved into the top spot on the Cards' all-time saves list. The team's major league record 16-game errorless streak in August helped establish a club record for fielding (.985). On the down side, the Redbirds set records for most strikeouts and caught stealing in a season. Moving the fences in proved beneficial. The Cards set a Busch Stadium season high while out-homering opponents, 55-52.
Helped by a 20-7 mark in June (a club record for the month) and a potent offense, the Cardinals closed to within three games of the front-running Philadelphia Phillies in mid-July, only to fall 10 games back by the end of August. Midseason injuries to relievers Mike Perez, Les Lancaster and Paul Kilgus put the pitching staff on the skids. Offensively, several players enjoyed banner seasons, reflected by the team's 118 home runs, the most in 30 years. Newcomer Gregg Jefferies finished third in the N.L. batting race at .342 and swiped 46 bases, the most ever by a Cardinal first baseman. Mark Whiten cracked a team-high 25 home runs, including four in the second game of a September 7 double-header at Cincinnati, thus becoming only the 12th player to accomplish the feat. His 12 RBI in the game tied former Cardinal Jim Bottomley's major league record. For the season, Whiten finished with 99 RBI. Todd Zeile drove in 60 after the All-Star break, finishing with a team-high 103 RBI as he settled into the cleanup spot. Bernard Gilkey enjoyed a breakthrough season, leading the club in hits, extra-base hits and runs scored. Ozzie Smith recorded his 16th-straight 20-steal season and passed Larry Bowa to become the all-time N.L. leader in games played at shortstop. Gerald Perry tied a club record with 24 pinch-hits. Though the pitching was largely inconsistent, Bob Tewksbury led the staff with a career-best 17 wins and walked only 20 batters for the second straight season. Cuban rookie Rene Arocha ranked second on the staff with 11 wins, despite missing nearly a month with a broken finger. Reliever Lee Smith became the majors' career saves leader in April and set a club record for career saves (160) before being traded to the New York Yankees in late August. The Cards slipped defensively, committing 159 errors and failing to place a member on the Rawlings' Gold Glove team for the first time since 1977.
The season started with a bang when Ray Lankford homered in the first at-bat of the schedule, but a players' strike in mid-August forced the cancellation of the remainder of the season and the World Series, ending the year in tragic fashion. When play was suspended on August 12, the Redbirds were 53-61 and tied with Pittsburgh for third place in the newly formed N.L. Central Division. The club's 5.14 ERA was its worst since 1897, and the opposition outscored the Cards by nearly 100 runs. A seven-game winning streak by Bob Tewksbury and a consecutive-game homer streak of 12 games highlighted the early portion of the schedule, helping the club stay within five games of first place through July 2. The Cardinals were involved in 14 shutouts and, despite inconsistent pitching, won seven of them. They tied an N.L. record by using six pitchers in a shutout (2-0) win at Pittsburgh on May 17. On May 24 against Philadelphia, they established a record for most runners left on base (16) in a shutout loss. The Cardinals blasted 108 home runs, exceeding the 100-homer plateau for just the second time since 1980, and were on pace to hit their most round-trippers since 1963. They hit a Busch Stadium-record five home runs in a July 1 win vs. Colorado. An 8-20 record in July included two of the team's lowest moments: On July 16 at Colorado, Cardinal pitchers walked a team-record 16 batters, one short of the N.L. record, and on July 18, the team tied an N.L. mark by losing an 11-run lead in its 15-12 loss at Houston. Ozzie Smith passed Luis Aparicio on July 14 to become baseball's all-time assist leader at shortstop. On September 1, Mark Lamping was appointed president, replacing the retiring Stuart Meyer. Lamping named Walt Jocketty general manager in October, replacing Dal Maxvill, who had held the title since 1985. Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Lou Brock were named to manager Joe Torre's coaching staff for 1995.
The season was disappointing in most respects, with the Cardinals posting a 62-81 mark and their worst winning percentage (.434) since 1990. The schedule was reduced to 144 games due to the players' strike that continued into the first week of April. Once play began on April 26, the Cardinals never challenged for the NL Central lead. On June 16, Manager Joe Torre was fired and replaced by Mike Jorgensen. Although the team languished near the Central Division basement, there were a number of individual highlights. Reliever Tom Henke saved 36 of 38 opportunities, including a team-record 22 straight to begin the season, and won his first Rolaids Relief title. He also notched his 300th career save, becoming the seventh pitcher to reach that plateau. Henke headlined a bullpen that led the NL with a 2.71 ERA and a .225 opponents' batting mark. Rich DeLucia topped the team with eight wins (the lowest-ever total to lead the club), all in relief. While starters Danny Jackson and Ken Hill failed to fulfill expectations, Mike Morgan, who was acquired in a June trade for Todd Zeile, gave the Busch Stadium crowd a night to remember on July 3 when he held Montreal hitless for 8.1 innings.On offense, the Cardinals' outfield trio of Bernard Gilkey (a team-high .298 BA), Ray Lankford (25 HRs, 82 RBIs) and Brian Jordan (22 HRs, 81 RBIs) led the way. Lankford's team-high 25 homers were the most ever by a Cards center fielder, and he tied Jordan for the team lead with 24 steals, thus becoming only the fifth Cardinal and the first since 1948 to lead the team in both home runs and steals. Jordan and Lankford also formed the Redbirds' first 20-homer tandem since 1980. First baseman/outfielder John Mabry (.307) narrowly missed qualifying for the NL Top 10 in batting, but his average topped all NL rookies and earned him a spot on the Topps All-Rookie team. Ozzie Smith, who was slowed by a shoulder injury, added to his collection of fielding records on Sept. 15 when he turned his 1,554th double play, an all-time high among shortstops. He also became the first big-league shortstop since 1950 to play at the age of 40 and the first Cardinal shortstop to do so since 1918. Off the bench, veteran Gerald Perry became the club's all-time pinch-hit leader (70), rookie Mark Sweeney hit in seven straight pinch at-bats (one short of the major league record) and Danny Sheaffer hit the Cards' first pinch grand slam in nearly 10 years. The Cardinals took part in two bizarre games at Dodger Stadium: on May 12 they committed seven errors, their highest single-game total since 1940, and on Aug. 10 they recorded a 2-1 forfeit win, the first forfeited game in the majors since 1979. A busy off-season included the hiring of Tony La Russa as manager and the announced sale of the club to a group of long-time Cardinals fans led by Fred Hanser, William DeWitt Jr. and Andrew Baur. The Busch playing surface was changed from artificial turf to natural grass prior to the '96 season.
With new ownership, new Manager Tony La Russa and a variety of new players in place, the Cardinals made their first postseaon appearance since 1987. The year also marked the end of an era, as shortstop Ozzie Smith completed his 19th, and final, major league campaign. The Cardinals began their climb to their first N.L. Central Division title after falling nine games below .500 following a series sweep by Colorado in mid-May. They rebounded with a sweep of the division-rival Astros in Houston, went on to record a 17-10 mark in June and reached the All-Star break tied for the division lead. The race remained close until Labor Day weekend, when the Redbirds swept three games from the first-place Astros to take over the division lead for good. Right fielder Brian Jordan led the league with a .422 batting average with runners in scoring position and teamed with center fielder Ray Lankford, the N.L. fielding leader, to provide dazzling outfield defense. New left fielder Ron Gant led the team with 30 homers despite missing over a month to injury. Brothers Andy (18-10) and Alan Benes (13-10) combined for 31 wins, and newcomer Todd Stottlemyre fashioned 14 victories in his first N.L. season. Lefthander Donovan Osborne won a career-high 13 games. The bullpen was anchored by former Oakland relief ace Dennis Eckersley, who saved 30 games in 34 tries. Fan-favorite Willie McGee returned to the club after five years with San Francisco and Boston and batted .307, including .350 in the pinch. The season also featured many record-setting achievements: The Cardinals tied a 56-year-old club record with a seven-homer game (July 12 at Chicago); the pitching staff recorded a team-record 1,050 strikeouts; and Willie McGee's five-RBI inning tied Chick Hafey's 1930 mark. The Cardinals retired the uniform numbers of Red Schoendienst (2), Enos Slaughter (9) and Ozzie Smith (1). In their first postseason appearance in nine years, the Cardinals swept a best-of-five Division Series from San Diego. After taking a 3-1 lead over defending World Series champion Atlanta in the NLCS, the Cardinals lost three straight.
After beginning the season with a six-game losing streak, the Cardinals never climbed above .500 and finished in fourth place with a 73-89 record, 11 games behind division-winner Houston. The Redbirds did manage to take sole possession of first place for two days (July 2-3), and their high-water mark for the season was an even .500 (41-41). But after trailing first-place Pittsburgh by only two games at the All-Star break, the Cardinals dropped to 711/42 back by the end of July. During the course of the season, the Cardinals set several club records. They used a record 51 players (including 24 pitchers), swatted a franchise-record 144 round-trippers (one more than their 1955 total of 143), and established team highs in strikeouts - at the plate (1,191) and on the mound (1,130). Ray Lankford, who missed the first two weeks of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery, emerged as a star-caliber player, leading the team with a career-high 31 homers (the most ever by a Cards center fielder) and career-best 98 RBIs. He finished only percentage points behind team batting leader Delino DeShields (.2954 to .2946). Slugger Mark McGwire arrived July 31 and belted 24 home runs as a Cardinal, including 15 in September (a club record for one month). He finished with 58 homers, tying the major league record for righthanded hitters. McGwire became just the fifth player to hit as many as 58 home runs and only the second, next to Babe Ruth, to record 50 or more in consecutive seasons. "Big Mac's" total of 110 homers in 1996 and '97 are the most ever back-to-back by a righty. He finished the year by homering in 12 consecutive series, but none of those blasts matched the flair of the 517-foot shot he launched above the left-field scoreboard in his first at-bat on Sept. 16, the day he announced he'd signed a multiyear contract with the club. Pitcher Matt Morris displayed much promise in his first season, leading N.L. rookie pitchers in wins (12), ERA (3.19), complete games (three), strikeouts (149), opponents' batting average (.258) and innings pitched (217). He topped the staff in victories and starts (33). DeShields led the team in batting (.295), hits (169), triples (14), sacrifice flies (six) and stolen bases (55). He was the first Cardinal since Lankford in 1991 to lead the league in triples. The Cardinals posted an 8-7 record against A.L. opponents in their first year of interleague play. They swept a three-game series from Minnesota but lost three at Milwaukee. The team drew 2,634,014 fans, the fifth-highest total in club history. Before the season, the Cardinals added a hand-operated scoreboard in center field and moved the visitors' bullpen to right field.
While Mark McGwire slugged his way to a record-setting season, the Cardinals finished in third place for the fifth time in the last decade, 19 games behind Central Division champion Houston. The 83-79 Cardinals jumped out of the gate strong, as McGwire began his march toward 70 home runs by going deep in each of the first four games, helping the Redbirds to a 16-11 record through April. As injuries took their toll, the Cardinals labored into the All-Star recess in fourth place, 12 1/2 games out of first, with a 40-46 record. The team wound up closing the season with a 43-33 record after the break, including an 18-7 mark in September, the franchise's best record in that month since moving into Busch Stadium in 1966.
The Cardinals concluded the 1900s almost exactly the way they began them - their .466 winning percentage (75-86) in '99 was nearly identical to their .464 mark in 1900, and they finished 21 1/2 games out of first place, slightly off their 19-game deficit 99 years earlier. Mark McGwire followed his record-setting 70-homer season of 1998 with a 65-homer campaign in 1999 and led the league with 147 RBIs.
The 2000 squad opened the season with a 7-1 win over rival Chicago on Opening Day and remained in first place for all but three days. By the All-Star break, the club held an eight-game lead over the Cincinnati Reds and ended the season as National League Central Division Champions, 10 games ahead of their closest pursuer. With a 95-67 record, the team became the 23rd in franchise history, and first since 1987, to reach the 90-win mark.
The Cardinals, having posted 17-8 and 13-14 records the first two months of the 2000 season, juxtaposed that early-season pattern and sat in second place at the 2001 season's one-third mark. This time they went 12-12 in April, dropping into fifth place, before winning 10 consecutive games May 7-17 and vaulting briefly into first. A 1-8 road trip in early June was the primary cause of that month's 11-16 record, and by the All-Star break, the Cardinals were 43-43 and eight games behind division-leading Houston. That was still their situation, but with a 57-55 record, as they opened play August 9, before going on an 11-game win streak that triggered the club's postseason drive. The pair of double-figure win streaks were the first for a Cardinal ballclub in the same season since 1941. And the Cardinals' fans continued showing their support, as 3,113,091 paid their way into Busch Stadium, marking the fourth consecutive season, and sixth in club history, of three-million-plus attendance.
Widely expected to finish in third place, the Cardinals defied all expectations, except perhaps their own, with 105 wins and the franchise's first pennant in 17 years. Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds posted MVP-caliber seasons, Albert Pujols put up his usual amazing numbers and the August addition of Larry Walker helped St. Louis lead the National League in runs scored. Meanwhile, Chris Carpenter headed a pitching staff of relative no-names that combined with an airtight defense to lead the league in runs allowed as well. Four starters totaled at least 15 wins, topped by Jeff Suppan's 16, as the Cardinals defeated the Dodgers and Astros in the playoffs to advance to the World Series. There they ran into the mighty Red Sox and were swept, giving Boston its first World Series title since 1918.
Coming off their first National League pennant since 1987, the Cardinals cruised to another NL Central championship, 11 games ahead of the second-place Astros. Slugger Albert Pujols garnered his first MVP trophy, producing a .330 average with 41 homers and 117 RBIs as he carried a Redbirds' offense that was limited by injuries to Scott Rolen and Larry Walker. Gold Glove center fielder Jim Edmonds enjoyed a solid season at the plate with 29 dingers, while Reggie Sanders went deep 21 times despite playing in just 93 games. Newcomers David Eckstein and Mark Grudzielanek formed a solid double play combination, with both middle infielders posting a .294 average. On the pitching side, Chris Carpenter earned his first Cy Young Award with a masterful campaign, highlighted by a 21-5 mark and a 2.83 ERA. The club's four other starters won at least 13 games as St. Louis swept San Diego in the NL Division Series before falling to Houston in a thrilling six-game NL Championship Series.
After having to wait until the final day of the regular season to clinch a playoff spot, with an 83-78 record, the 2006 Cardinals put together a postseason run that no Cardinals fan will ever forget. The Cards were led in the regular season by All-Star slugger Albert Pujols, who batted .331 with 49 home runs and 137 RBIs. Chris Carpenter anchored the pitching staff, going 15-8 with a 3.09 ERA.
In the postseason, the Cards got by the Padres in the divisional series in four games and then faced off against the Mets in the NLCS. The thrilling series came down to a Game 7 and two unexpected players became heroes. Catcher Yadier Molina hit a two-run home run in the top of the ninth to break a 1-1 tie. Then, closer Adam Wainwright, filling in for the injured Jason Isringhausen, clinched the pennant for the 2006 Redbirds by striking out Carlos Beltran with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, sending the Cards to the World Series for the second time in three seasons.
This time the Cards were able to finish it off, by beating the Tigers in five games. Shortstop David Eckstein earned World Series MVP honors, hitting .364 for the series. Wainwright would again close it out for the Cards, this time striking out Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge and clinching the Cardinals first World Series Title since 1982. Wainwright finished the postseason without giving up a run and striking out 15 in 9 2/3 innings and picking up three saves.
The reigning World Series champions lost their ace on Opening Night when Chris Carpenter went down with an elbow injury, and they never really regained their footing. It was an extremely difficult year in a wide range of ways, as reliever Josh Hancock passed away in a car wreck and utility player Scott Spiezio sought treatment for substance abuse. The off-field troubles overshadowed a game-but-overmatched team's efforts on the field. Remarkably, after their early challenges, the Cardinals pulled within a game of first place in September, only to slump and fall out of contention. Five straight wins at the end of the season put a better face on the final record, though, and manager Tony La Russa spoke frequently of his fondness for how the team fought.
A team forecast by many to be an afterthought made an admirable and inspiring run at a playoff spot but ultimately fell short. The '08 Cardinals got off to a hot start and held first place in late May. They climbed to 13 games over .500 in mid-June, but much of the rest of the season was a slog. A June injury to ace Adam Wainwright knocked the Cards for a loop, though pitchers like Kyle Lohse and Todd Wellemeyer picked up some of the slack.
On the offensive side, Albert Pujols had a typically brilliant season, winning his second MVP, falling just short of a batting title and setting career highs in on-base percentage and walks. He was complemented by breakout star Ryan Ludwick, who also garnered some MVP votes, and emergent years from Rick Ankiel and Skip Schumaker. A young team throughout the season, the Cards finished with 86 wins, their highest total since 2005, and lots of admiration for their dogged but ultimately fruitless pursuit of the postseason.
After two years away, the Cardinals got back to the postseason in 2009 thanks in large part to a sensational late-summer surge. Hit by some significant injuries early in the year, the Redbirds nonetheless stayed afloat through the first half thanks to strong starting pitching and a brilliant season from Albert Pujols. Then the reinforcements arrived. Midseason acquisitions of Mark DeRosa, Matt Holliday, Julio Lugo and John Smoltz bolstered an already strong squad and helped the Cardinals surge. A team that was in a tight fight in July ran away with the division in August and cruised to another playoff bid.
Holliday was a big part of it, but so were co-aces Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, who contended for the Cy Young Award, and Pujols, who may have enjoyed his best year at the plate. Contributions also came from converted infielder Skip Schumaker, first-year starting shortstop Brendan Ryan and first-time full-season closer Ryan Franklin. The ride came to a quick end when the Cardinals were swept by the Dodgers in the Division Series, but it was nonetheless a memorable season in which the Cards got back to where they feel they always belong: October baseball.
A year that looked ominous from the very start turned out to be a memorable and historic one for the 2011 Cardinals. Spring Training was marked by a season-ending injury to Adam Wainwright and the end to fruitless contract talks with Albert Pujols. The early season saw the Cardinals very much in contention but still subject to one injury after another: Pujols, Matt Holliday, David Freese and Allen Craig were among those who missed significant time.
Yet the Cards stayed in the race, and at midseason the front office rewarded their diligence with a series of moves. Edwin Jackson, Marc Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel were all acquired in a trade that sent Colby Rasmus to Toronto, and Rafael Furcal and Arthur Rhodes came in as well. The infusion didn't pay off immediately, but the combination of old and new faces helped the Redbirds charge from a deep August hole to the postseason. After trailing Atlanta by 10 1/2 games in the Wild Card race, St. Louis secured a playoff bid on the final day of the regular season with a win over Houston and a Braves loss.
From there, they just kept surging. A five-game triumph over the Phillies in the Division Series was capped by Chris Carpenter's masterpiece against Roy Halladay. The Cards dispatched the rival Brewers in six games to advance to their second World Series in six seasons, and then they won an absolute classic of a battle with the Rangers. Freese's triple and home run in the late innings capped a Game 6 for the ages before Carpenter and the Cards closed it out in Game 7 for the franchise's 11th world championship.
For the first time in 16 years, the Cardinals began a season without manager Tony La Russa. First baseman Albert Pujols was gone as well, having signed with the Angels in December. But led by first-year manager Mike Matheny, the Cardinals finished with an 88-win season, good enough to earn the second Wild Card berth into the postseason. It was a particularly notable accomplishment given the limited contributions the club received from Chris Carpenter and Lance Berkman, both of whom spent the majority of the season on the disabled list.
But the team's offense was one of the most prolific in the league, and young pitchers stepped in to stabilize the rotation. A Trade Deadline deal for Edward Mujica then boosted the bullpen. The Cardinals finished the year on a 12-4 run, defeated the Braves in a win-or-go-home Wild Card game and then mounted an historic comeback to beat the Nationals in the Division Series. St. Louis took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven League Championship Series but had its season end with three straight losses to the Giants.
Though the Cardinals lost three key players (Chris Carpenter, Jason Motte and Rafael Furcal) before the season opened, they were carried to a National League-most 97 wins by a cast of new faces and reliable veterans. The Cardinals emerged from a tough three-team fight with their first NL Central title since 2009, then defeated Pittsburgh and Los Angeles en route to the organization's fourth World Series appearance in the last 10 years. St. Louis eventually fell to the Red Sox in six games.
The club had record success with a .330 average with runners in scoring position and led the league in runs scored. Matt Carpenter had a standout season in his first year at second. Yadier Molina, who finished third in the MVP vote, helped guide a relatively young pitching staff to much success. Three members of the Cardinals' rotation - Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller - finished with at least 15 wins. Then there were all the rookies, among them Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Matt Adams, Carlos Martinez, Kevin Siegrist and Seth Maness, who stepped in to fill holes. They gave the Cardinals a needed lift in 2013 and provided a glimpse of expected future success to come.
While the Cardinals could not defend their National League pennant, they did hold off the Pirates for a second straight season to capture another NL Central division title in 2014. The road there, however, was not an easy one. The club regressed offensively and finished the season last in the league in home runs. But it was routinely picked up by the pitching staff, which featured Adam Wainwright anchoring the rotation and a new-look bullpen led by closer Trevor Rosenthal and surprise set-up man Pat Neshek. It wasn't until September that the Cardinals grabbed sole possession of the division's top spot, but once they did, they never relinquished it. The team then stunned Clayton Kershaw twice to defeat the Dodgers in the NL Division Series before their playoff march was stalled by the Giants for a second time in three seasons. Just days after that disappointing finish, the organization was stuck by tragedy when budding star Oscar Taveras was killed in a Dominican Republic auto accident. That loss later drove the Cardinals to pursue a trade with the Braves that brought in right fielder Jason Heyward.
While playing in baseball's toughest division, the Cardinals captured a third straight National League Central title with their ninth 100-win season in franchise history. The club reached 50 wins quicker than any Cardinals team since 1944, and led the division outright from April 17. The team was carried particularly by its pitching staff, which posted a Major League-best 2.94 ERA despite getting limited contributions from ace Adam Wainwright, who suffered an Achilles injury three weeks into the season. Finding success amid injuries was a theme throughout the year, as the Cardinals went through long stretches without key contributors Wainwright, Matt Holliday, Matt Adams, Jaime Garcia, Randal Grichuk, Jon Jay and Jordan Walden. Yadier Molina and Martinez also finished the year sidelined. The season ended abruptly, however, as the Cardinals dropped their National League Division Series to the Wild-Card Cubs in four games. It marked the quickest October exit the Cardinals have had under manager Mike Matheny.
The Cardinals' string of three straight National League Central titles and five consecutive playoff berths came to an end when the club finished one game behind the Mets and the Giants in the NL Wild Card race. A porous defense and underachieving starting pitching held back the 2016 team, which finished with a rotation ERA of 4.33. The Cardinals found much more traction on the offensive end. They led the NL with 225 homers and tied an NL single-season record with six players posting 20-homer seasons. The club also had prolific pinch-hitting success, establishing a Major League record with 17 pinch-hit homers and tying another with 81 total pinch-hits.
The club played surprisingly poor at home, finishing with 43 home, yet conversely boasted baseball's best road record at 48-33. Among the individuals who had standout seasons were rookies Aledmys Diaz and Seung Hwan Oh, both of whom received votes in the Rookie-of-the-Year balloting. Carlos Martinez emerged as the team's most dynamic and consistent starter, and several other young players -- including Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk and Matt Bowman -- emerged as key pieces for the future. Shortly after the season ended, the Cardinals began retooling for 2017 by signing lefty Brett Cecil to the largest contract for a reliever in franchise history.
The Cardinals remained in the hunt for a postseason berth until the final week of the season before slipping to a third-place finish in the National League Central. The club's 88 wins were its fewest since 2007. It became a year of transition for the Cardinals, who benefited from breakthrough seasons by several young players. Outfielder Tommy Pham and shortstop Paul DeJong emerged as everyday players, while Luke Weaver helped stabilize the rotation in the second half.
Those contributions were necessary, though, largely because others underachieved. The Cardinals received underwhelming production from Stephen Piscotty, Aledmys Diaz, Jhonny Peralta, Seung Hwan Oh and others, and that left the organization repeatedly trying to fill holes. They also underwent a significant coaching shakeup that began with the midseason dismissal of Chris Maloney and continued into October, when the Cardinals hired four new coaches.
The year was highlighted by a day trip to Williamsport, Pa., where the club appeared in the first Little League Classic, and an eight-game winning streak in August that included the arrival of Rally Cat. That momentum was lost late, however, as the Cards dropped seven of their final nine games.
The Mike Matheny era came to an end in 2018. Mike Shildt took over as manager on July 15th and lead the team to a 41-28 record (.594 win pct.) for the remainder of the year keeping their Postseason hopes alive until the very last game of the season narrowly missing out on a Wild Card spot. The club had 88 wins for the second year in a row and failed to reach the Postseason for the thrid consecutive season.
The Cardinals had nine players make their Major League debuts in 2018: Adolis García, Austin Gomber, Jordan Hicks, Dakota Hudson, Yairo Muñoz, Tyler O'Neill, Daniel Poncedeleon, Edmundo Sosa and Patrick Wisdom.
Miles Mikolas was impressive in 2018, becoming an All-Star in his first season back in the Major Leagues. Mikolas was a perfect 10-0 on the road, becoming only the 3rd pitcher in MLB dating to 1908 to post a 1.000 winning pct. on the road while winning 10 or more games. Mikolas co-led the National League in wins (18), becoming the first Cardinals pitcher to do so since Adam Wainwright (19 wins in 2013) and the first to do so in his very first season with the Redbirds.
The Cardinals rose back to the top of the National League Central in 2019. As the Brewers inched closer to first place, the Cardinals held off the Cubs and clinched the division on the final day of the regular season to finish 91-71. The highlight of the season came in the final two weeks of the season, when the Cardinals swept the Cubs in a four-game sweep at Wrigley Field for the first time since May 1921.
The Cardinals' postseason run featured a thrilling five-game series against the Braves in the National League Division Series. Yadier Molina's walk-off sac fly in the 10th inning of Game 4 sent the series back to Atlanta for Game 5, and the Cardinals scored 10 runs in the first inning to earn a spot in the NL Championship Series against the Nationals. There, they ran into the Nationals elite pitching, and the Cardinals were swept in four games to end the season.
Despite trading for All-Star slugger Paul Goldschmidt in the offseason, it was the Cardinals pitching that pushed them toward the division title. Veteran starter Adam Wainwright had a bounce-back season, going 14-10 with a 4.19 ERA and a couple of vintage performances in October. But the star of the rotation was young ace Jack Flaherty, who turned into an baseball’s best pitcher in the second half with an 0.91 ERA. In his second full season in the Majors, Flaherty had a 2.75 ERA and went 11-8 in 33 starts. He struck out 231 batters over 196 1/3 innings and earned a fourth-place Cy Young finish.
The Cardinals opened 2020 looking to defend their National League Central division championship, but the pandemic-shortened season had other ideas. A coronavirus outbreak paused the Cardinals' season for three weeks, and while other teams played on, the Cardinals tested daily and were quarantined without access to formal workouts.
When they were cleared to return in August, they drove 41 individual rental cars to Chicago to limit contact until absolutely necessary. The team resumed their schedule with a doubleheader against the White Sox on Aug. 14, their first of 11 doubleheaders and first two games of their 53-games-in-44-days stretch they would have to finish the season. Despite all of the obstacles, the Cardinals finished 2020 with a 30-28 record (due to the postseason bracket and seedings, they did not have to make up the final two games of the schedule and played only 58 games instead of 60) and made the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
The season was filled with milestones on the field, like Adam Wainwright's complete game on his 39th birthday, Yadier Molina's 2,000th hit and top prospect Dylan Carlson's Major League debut on Aug. 15. The Cardinals won the first game of their best-of-three National League Wild Card Series against the Padres in San Diego but lost the final two, seeing what manager Mike Shildt called "a remarkable season" come to an end. St. Louis featured two Gold Glove award winners in second baseman Kolten Wong and left fielder Tyler O'Neill but also saw Wong, along with Wainwright and Molina, depart into free agency.