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Cards' top players with a Hall of an argument

@anne__rogers
November 16, 2020

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals have their share of National Baseball Hall of Fame players. From Stan Musial to Bob Gibson, Red Schoendienst to Lou Brock, the list of Cardinals in the Hall speaks to the history of the franchise and its success over the years.

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals have their share of National Baseball Hall of Fame players. From Stan Musial to Bob Gibson, Red Schoendienst to Lou Brock, the list of Cardinals in the Hall speaks to the history of the franchise and its success over the years.

Hall of Fame coverage

But there are more players than just the Hall of Famers who have made St. Louis successful. With the Hall of Fame ballot for the Class of 2021 released Monday, we thought it would be pertinent to take a look at each team’s best players not in the Hall of Fame. For this project, we’re looking at the player’s entire career, not just time with the Cardinals. The player must be retired.

1. Scott Rolen
Key fact: His career bWAR of 70.1 is ninth best among third basemen in baseball history.
Scott Rolen is on the Hall of Fame ballot this year for the fourth time, and he has been steadily rising each year. In January, he appeared on 35.3% of ballots, a significant jump from the 17.2% in 2019 and 10.2% in 2018.

Rolen played for four teams in his 17-year career. He was drafted by the Phillies and played seven years in Philadelphia before he was traded to the Cardinals, where he had some of his best seasons.

Four of his eight Gold Gloves came in St. Louis. Only Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt have more Gold Gloves at third base than Rolen. Rolen hit 316 home runs and had an .855 career OPS, and his career year came in 2004, when he posted a .314/.409/.598 slash line with 34 home runs and 124 RBIs as part of the juggernaut St. Louis team that won 105 games.

Rolen ranks among some of the great third basemen in Hall of Fame worthiness. His 56.9 JAWS score is above the 55.7 average of Hall Fame third basemen. WAR isn’t the only statistic to look at when evaluating the Hall of Fame ballot, but it helps Rolen’s case. In his first eight full seasons (1997-2004), he hit at least 25 home runs seven times and drove in more than 100 runs five times.

2. Ken Boyer
Key fact: He accumulated a career 62.9 bWAR, with 58.1 for the Cardinals.
The cornerstone, key contributor and captain-like presence on the 1960s Cardinals, Ken Boyer was on the Baseball Writers' Association of America Hall of Fame ballot for 15 years, from 1975-79 and ’85-94. His highest vote percentage was 25.5% in ’88. The third baseman was a nominee on the Golden Era ballot in 2015 but did not receive the required 75% of the ballots cast by the 16-member committee.

Boyer is the only Cardinals player to have his number retired by the franchise and not be in the Hall of Fame. But he does have a case. He had a .287/.349/.462 slash line and 282 career home runs. He won the 1964 National League MVP Award, hitting .295 with 100 runs scored, 24 home runs and a Major League-best 119 RBIs while also leading the Cardinals to the World Series. Boyer won all five of his Gold Glove Awards with the Cardinals and is often considered one of the finest defensive third basemen ever.

Boyer’s Hall of Fame case is helped by comparing his career to Cubs great Ron Santo, who was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2012 after his election by the Golden Era Committee. Boyer and Santo were the primo third basemen in the NL for a long time: Each won five Gold Glove Awards, and Santo had nine All-Star appearances to Boyer’s seven. Santo had a career .277/.362/.464 slash line, almost identical to Boyer’s. Boyer’s JAWS score is 54.6, putting him in line with other Hall of Fame third basemen.

3. Jim Edmonds
Key fact: He ranks among the top 10 center fielders in career homers (393) and slugging (.527).
Jim Edmonds dropped off the BBWAA ballot in his first year of eligibility in 2016, appearing on only 11 of the 440 ballots cast. The center fielder certainly didn’t have an open-and-shut case for Cooperstown, but it was rather surprising he didn’t get more than one year of consideration. Few players in recent memory have had as many spectacular highlights as Edmonds, who won eight Gold Gloves. At his peak, Edmonds was a defensive force at a premium position while also an all-around threat at the plate.

While his career totals (.284/.376/.527 slash line, 393 home runs and 1,949 hits) don’t immediately catch the eye, his peak was impressive. From 2000-05 -- his first six seasons with the Cardinals after a trade from the Angels -- he batted .292/.406/.584 with a 154 OPS+ -- averaging 35 home runs and 98 RBIs while winning a Gold Glove Award each year. He had a 36.5 bWAR over that stretch, fifth in the Majors behind Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Todd Helton and Albert Pujols.

4. Mark McGwire
Key fact: His 583 career home runs rank 11th on MLB’s all-time list.
Mark McGwire’s admission of steroid use during his career surely affected his showing on the BBWAA ballots. The first baseman finished with 12.6% of the vote in 2016, his 10th and last attempt to gain entry to Cooperstown. He was never named on more than 23.7% percent of ballots once he became eligible in ’07.

Still, McGwire is one of the most famous and best sluggers of all time, highlighted by his 1998 season, when he battled Sammy Sosa in the home run chase. McGwire was the first to hit 62 home runs, breaking Roger Maris’ single-season home run record, and he went on to hit 70 home runs that season and 65 the next. McGwire hit .263/.394/.588 in his 16-year career, first with Oakland and finishing in St. Louis. He never won an MVP Award but was a 12-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger. His rate of 10.61 at-bats per home run remains the best in baseball history.

5. Curt Flood
Key fact: He won seven consecutive Gold Gloves as a spark plug for the 1960s Cardinals.
Statistically, Curt Flood doesn’t have a clear-cut Hall of Fame case, hitting .293 with 1,861 hits and just 12 full seasons. The speedy center fielder was known for his defense, but he hit better than .300 six times with the Cardinals, including a .311 average during their World Series-winning year in 1964.

There is a push for Flood’s enshrinement in the Hall of Fame because of his legacy off the field. He refused a trade from the Cardinals to the Phillies in 1969, which eventually became the spark for what is now free agency. He took on Major League Baseball’s reserve clause with Marvin Miller, who was the executive director for the Players Association -- and who was elected to the Hall of Fame last year by the Modern Era Committee.

Flood’s labor efforts essentially ended his career; he played only 13 more games in the Majors. He might have retired with Hall of Fame-worthy numbers had he spent several more seasons as a regular player, but his contributions to the game remain with players today.

Anne Rogers covers the Cardinals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @anne__rogers and on Facebook.