Its not often that a team has 3 switch hitters in their starting lineup. With the signing of outfielder Carlos Beltran to go along with SS Rafeal Furcal and 1B/0F Lance Berkman, the Cardinals will have 3 next year. I realize all three players are in there mid-30s now, but Berkman and Beltran had All Star years last season and Furcal was an All Star in 2010. Its possible manager Mike Matheny could bat Furcal, Beltran, and Berkman in the 1-2-3 spots in the order in 2012.
Berkman and Beltran have teamed up once before for the 2004 Astros. I'm sure most of you remember that team and the grueling but exciting 7 game NLCS that year. Beltran played his home games in pitchers parks last season, batting .300 with 22 home runs. He did hit 39 doubles which was second in the NL, and was ninth in the NL with a .910 OPS. Beltran has also grounded into 99 less double plays during his career than Albert Pujols did, so thats a plus for a team who set a National League record for GIDP last season. Having Beltran in the outfield and Berkman at first will improve the defense as well. Not having Ryan Theriot on the team helps as well. Furcal shored up shortstop after he was acquired, and hopefully he can play in 130-140 games next year.
This isn't the first time the Cards have featured multiple switch hitters. The 1985 and 1987 Cardinals teams featured five switch hitters. It included a Hall of Famer(Ozzie Smith), two former MVPs(Willie McGee and Terry Pendleton, and two All Stars(Tommy Herr and Vince Coleman), all in the prime of their careers. Switch hitting Jose Oquendo was a reserve on the 1987 team. Makes it harder for an opposing manager to play matchups like that. The Redbirds have also had some other pretty good switch hitters in their history including Frankie Frisch, Red Schoendienst, Ted Simmons, Reggie Smith, and Garry Templeton.
There's been some pretty good teams in the last 20 years to have 3 or more switch hitters. The 1993 Blue Jays had Roberto Alomar, Tony Fernandez, and Devon White. The 1995 Indians had Eddie Murray, Carlos Baerga, and Omar Vizquel. The 1997 Marlins had Bobby Bonilla, White, Luis Castillo, and a couple of bench switch hitters. The 1998 Yankees had Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Tim Raines, and Chili Davis. The 2004 Braves had Chipper Jones, Furcal, and Jonny Estrada. The 2004 Red Sox had Jason Varitek, Bill Mueller, and Mark Bellhorn. The 2006 Mets had Beltran, Jose Reyes, and Jose Valentin. Finally, the 2009 Yankees had Posada, Mark Teixiera, Melky Cabrera, and Nick Swisher. Next year we'll find out were the 2012 Cardinals trio of switch hitters fare together.