The 2017 Major League Baseball home run derby promises to be one of the most exciting yet. Since switching from the outs format to the timed one, the event has become much more entertaining. Monday, Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger, and Miguel Sano will come into Giancarlo Stanton’s house to try to take his crown. It promises to be one of the most exciting Home Run Derby’s yet.
They hype got me thinking. Who would comprise the all-time St. Louis Cardinals home run derby. After looking at various ways to determine the participants and seed them – ISO, SLG, OPS+, etc – I finally settled on the most basic: home run total. If I would have chosen Isolated Slugging, Randal Grichuk would have made the cut. I didn’t think he belonged, because I thought this should be a tournament of all-time great Cardinals hitters.
Ladies and gentlemen, the all-time St. Louis Cardinals Home Run Derby field.
1. Stan “The Man” Musial: 475 career home runs
Could anybody but Stan The Man be the number one overall seed? Musial has the most homers in Cardinals history despite being much more than just a home run hitter. He led the league in average and slugging six times apiece, on-base percentage five times, and and doubles an astounding eight times. Although he never led the league in homers, he had streaks of five consecutive years of 25 or more homers twice. He won three MVP’s, and was without a doubt one of the best hitters of all time.
One thing to keep in mind with Musial: he played at Sportsman’s Park, which despite bing 426 feet to the right center power alley, was a mere 310 feet down the right field line.
2. Albert Pujols: 603 career home runs, 445 with Cardinals
Before Pujols signed with the Angels in December 2011, he was well on his way to passing Musial as the greatest hitter in Cardinal history. Another 31 bombs and he would have passed Musial on the all-time Cardinals’ home run list. He won three MVP’s (2205, 2008, 2009), and led the league in homers twice. He started off his career with ten consecutive seasons with a .300 average, 30 homers, and 100 R
It’s been six years since he left, so if you need your memory refreshed click play.
3. Ken Boyer: 282 home runs, 255 with Cardinals
I bet you didn’t expect Ken Boyer to be on the list. While Boyer doesn’t have the astonishing totals of Pujols or Musial, he was incredibly consistent. From 1958 to 1964, he never hit fewer than 23 homers. He finished in the top-ten of the MVP voting four times, and won it in 1964.
He also hit one of the biggest homers in Cardinals history. In the sixth inning of game four of the 1964 World Series, Boyer crushed a grand slam to left. It gave St. Louis a 4-3 lead, and was the turning point in what would be the club’s seventh World Series title.
4. Jim Edmonds: 393 career home runs, 241 with Cardinals
Jimmy Ballgame became a fan-favorite during his seven years in St. Louis, in large part because of his 241 dingers in that span. He had two seasons of 40+ homers and another season of 39. In the eleven seasons from 1995 through 2005, Edmonds slugged over .500 in ten of them. In 1999, the only exception, he was limited to 55 games.
Edmonds didn’t just hit in the regular season. He hit 13 career postseason homers for St. Louis, including this Game 6 walk off before David Freese made it cool.
5. Ray Lankford: 238 career home runs, 228 with Cardinals
The four-five matchup should be a fun one. Two of Cardinal Nation’s favorites, both overshadowed during their times in St. Louis; Edmonds by Pujols and Lankford by McGwire.
Lankford broke out with 20 homers in his second full season in St. Louis, and hit at least 20 in five of the next eight years. He was one of the lone bright spots of the Joe Torre era, and hit 31 homers in both 1997 and 1998. Unfortunately for Ray, those 62 homers wouldn’t even match the No. 6 seed’s single season total.
6. Mark McGwire: 583 career home runs, 220 with Cardinals
From 1997-2001, Big Mac hit 220 homers for the Cardinals. Think about that. In those 4 1/2 years, McGwire averaged 48.8 homers. For context, heres the complete list of Cardinals who have ever hit 48 or more homers in any single season:
- Mark McGwire
- Albert Pujols
McGwire’s 1998 was so epic, the YouTube video of all his homers is over 15 minutes long.
There is the whole steroids thing, though, which obviously tarnishes everything written above. Either way, tough draw for third seed Ken Boyer.
7. Rogers Hornsby: 301 career home runs, 193 with Cardinals
This is shaping up to be a strong bottom half of the bracket. From 1915 to 1926, Hornsby averaged just over 16 homers. However, that takes into account the first five years, in which he never had a season with a double-digit home run total. He didn’t really start cranking homers until 1921, and he led the league twice over the next two years. From 1921-1926, he averaged over 25 homers per season.
And don’t forget that .424 average in 1924.
8. Jim Bottomley: 219 career home runs, 181 with Cardinals
If you had to name of Cardinals’ MVP’s, you’d probably rattle off Albert Pujols, Stan Musial, and Rogers Hornsby. Those who lived through the 80’s would remember Willie McGee.
Very few would remember Jim Bottomley. Overshadowed early in his career by Hornsby and late in his career by the Dean brothers, Bottomley was quietly one of the best players in the Cardinals franchise history. He hit .325 in his Cardinals career, and smacked 31 homers in 1928 to lead the league and win the MVP.
There’s little chance the Twitter users vote for him over Stan the Man. But people should remember Jim Bottomley, 1928 NL MVP.
Thanks for reading! Be sure to vote on Twitter or comment below who you think would win the Cardinals All-Time Home Run Derby.