St. Louis Cardinals of Future Past: World Series Designated Hitters

Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

By penciling in Ryan Theriot as their DH in World Series Game 4, the San Francisco Giants placed Theriot in the company of other light-hitting past, present, and future Cardinals.

After making the decision not to place the disgraced Melky Cabrera on their postseason roster, the San Francisco Giants were faced with a dearth of good hitters when selecting a Designated Hitter while playing on the road during the World Series. On Sunday, Manager Bruce Bochy decided to start middle infielder Ryan Theriot at DH against the Tigers. Bochy's decision to have the light-hitting Theriot fill the DH position drew many jokes and criticisms on the internet, especially amongst the St. Louis Cardinals faithful (myself included).

On Twitter, Jay Jaffe of Baseball Prospectus and Sports Illustrated was asked whether Theriot was the worst hitting DH ever to fill the position during a World Series. Jaffe replied that Theriot's career OPS+* of 83 made him the seventh-worst World Series DH of all-time by that metric and provided a link to the list of the lightest hitting DHs in World Series history by the OPS+ metric. I clicked on the link and noticed that quite a few one-time Cardinals were on that list and a majority of those players were Cards at the time they played the DH position during the World Series.

*A primer on OPS and OPS+ can be found here, in the Fangraphs Glossary.

I've recreated the top 23 names on the list in the chart below and listed the year the player DH'd in the World Series as well as the club he DH'd for. The player's batting average (BA), on-base percentage (OBP), slugging percentage (SLG), on-base plus slugging (OPS), and OPS+ are all the player's career numbers. The players in gray are players that played for the Cardinals before or after being a DH in the World Series. Those players highlighted in pink are players that were a Cardinals DH during the World Series. The information is all from Baseball-Reference.com.

THE WORST OF THE WORLD SERIES DESIGNATED HITTERS BY CAREER OPS+

Player

WS Club

WS Year

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

Tsuyoshi Shinjo

SFG

2002

.245

.299

.370

.668

77

Kurt Bevacqua

SDP

1984

.236

.305

.327

.632

78

Pedro Feliz

SFG

2002

.250

.288

.410

.698

80

Lenny Harris

NYM

2000

.269

.318

.349

.667

80

Tom Pagnozzi

STL

1987

.253

.299

.359

.658

80

Keith Lockhart

ATL

1999

.261

.319

.385

.704

81

Ryan Theriot

SFG

2012

.281

.341

.350

.691

83

Marlon Anderson

STL

2004

.265

.314

.391

.705

84

Tony Peña

STL

1987

.260

.309

.364

.673

84

Mariano Duncan

PHI

1993

.267

.300

.388

.688

86

Greg Dobs

PHI

2008

.268

.308

.402

.710

88

Jose Hernandez

ATL

1999

.252

.312

.418

.729

88

Barbaro Garbey

DET

1984

.267

.309

.371

.679

88

Shawon Dunston

SFG

2002

.269

.296

.416

.712

89

Ernie Riles

SFG

1989

.254

.319

.365

.684

89

Chris Coste

PHI

2008

.272

.329

.416

.744

91

Terry Pendleton

STL/ATL

1987/96

.270

.316

.391

.707

92

Dane Iorg

STL

1982

.276

.317

.378

.695

92

Ryan Spilborghs

COL

2007

.272

.345

.423

.769

93

Hector Sanchez

SFG

2012

.277

.299

.382

.680

94

Danny Heep

NYM/LAD

1986/88

.257

.330

.357

.687

94

Vic Davailillo

LAD

1978

.279

.315

.364

.680

94

Scott Spiezio

STL

2006

.255

.329

.419

.747

95

PAST & FUTURE CARDINALS

Vic Davalillo broke into the big leagues in 1963 with the Cleveland Indians and retired after playing the 1980 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Davalillo played for six teams in a career that spanned 4,296 PAs and 16 seasons. He spent the 1969 and 1970 seasons with the Cardinals, making 304 PAs and hitting .295/.341/.409. In 1978, Davalillo was 41 years old and hit .312/.333/.390/.723 for the Dodgers, which was good for a 103 OPS+. In World Series Game 6, Davalillo was the DH for the Dodgers and went 1 for 3 with a single and a sacrifice bunt.

Shawon Dunston spent 11 1/2 of his 18 major league seasons with the Chicago Cubs. Needless to say, Dunston didn't have the chance to DH in the World Series while wearing Cubs pinstripes. Dunston spent the first part of the 1999 season with the Cardinals and hit .307/.327/.467 before St. Louis traded him to the Mets at the trade deadline. During the following Hot Stove, the free agent Dunston then signed with the Cardinals for the 2000 season and hit .250/.278/.486 for the NL Central champs. Dunston signed with the Giants in 2001 and in the 2002 World Series DH'd in Games 2 and 6 for Dusty Baker, going 2 for 7 in the role with a single and a two-run homer.

Pedro Feliz earned a living primarily due to his glove. I was surprised to learn that he DH'd in the World Series and, after coming to grips with this fact, was even more surprised that he was not the worst DH in World Series history. With a career line of .250/.288/410 and a career OPS+ 80, he's close. For some reason, Cardinals general manger John Mozeliak traded for Feliz in 2010. The veteran hit horrendously for the Cards, posting a line of .208/.232/.250. His OPS of .482 for St. Louis is staggeringly awful, as is the 32 OPS+ it equals. In 2002, Feliz took over the DH duties from Shawon Dunston for the World Series' seventh game. His 0 for 3 line, with two strikeouts, contributed to the Angels' World Series championship. Feliz and Dunston are one of two sets of San Francisco teammates to make this list by DHing in the same World Series.

Ryan Theriot is the inspiration for this post. Prior to the 2011 season, Mozeliak acquired Ryan Theriot and traded away the elite-fielding Brendan Ryan. Theriot was coming off a 2010 season in which two franchises--the Cubs and Dodgers--told him he wasn't a shortstop anymore. The Cardinals told him he was and sold him to skeptical fans a likely bounce-back candidate with the bat. Theriot was an abomination in the field and not very good with the bat. He hit .271/.321/.342 and was replaced at the trade deadline with Rafael Furcal. The Cards cut bait on Theriot after winning the 2011 World Series and the middle infielder signed with San Fran, where he hit .270/.316/.321. In Detroit, Theriot split DH duties Hector Sanchez, making this the second pair of Giants contemporaries to make this list by DHing in the same World Series. In Game 2, Theriot went 1 for 4 with a single and scored the game- and series-winning run.

CARDINALS AT THE TIME

Scott Spiezio joined the Cardinals in 2006 after a disappointing two years in Seattle, which made him a classic Walt Jocketty signing. As a utility player, Spiezio notched 321 PAs and posted a .272/.366/.496 line. His .862 OPS was good for a 125 OPS+. The Cardinals won just 83 games that season, backed into the playoffs, and then somehow won the World Series. While his career hitting line is not very good, Spiezio's 2006 season line likely provided the impetus for Tony La Russa to DH Spiezio in Detroit for Game 2 of the World Series. Speez went 0 for 3 with a walk in the game, which was the only contest the Cards dropped in the series.

Dane Iorg made his big-league debut with the Phillies in 1977 and was shortly thereafter traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, with whom he would spend parts of nine seasons. From 1977-1984, Iorg tallied 1,250 PAs as a Cardinal and posted a slash line of .294/.338/.387. He OPS'd .726 with St. Louis, which equates to an OPS+ of 101. In the 1982 World Series, Iorg started at DH for Whitey Herzog's Redbirds in Games 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Iorg went 9 for 17 with four doubles, a triple, one RBI, and four runs scored. His line as a DH for the Cards that World Series was .529/.529/.882/1.412.

Terry Pendleton played in five World Series during his 15-season career. Seven of those seasons were spent with the Cardinals. During those years, Pendleton hit .259/.308/.356; his .664 OPS equaled an OPS+ of 84. In 1987, Pendleton DH'd in the Metrodome in Games 2 and 6 of the World Series against the Twins. Pendleton would go 3 for 7 with three singles, one walk, and one RBI. In 1996, Pendleton played DH for the Braves at Yankee Stadium in Games 2 and 6 and went 2 for 7 in the role with a double and a single.

Tony Pena played in the majors for 18 seasons and spent three of those years with the Cardinals. For St. Louis, Pena hit .248/.303/.342. His .645 OPS and 79 OPS+ were a bit worse than his career .673 OPS and 84 OPS+, which makes the fact that he was penciled in as the DH by Whitey Herzog in Game 7 of the 1987 World Series all the stranger. Pena went 2 for 3 with two doubles and an RBI. He was also intentionally walked in the game.

Tom Pagnozzi is the third member of the 1987 Cardinals to make this list. Pagnozzi only ever played for the Redbirds. In 12 years, he hit .253/.299/.359, with a .658 OPS and 80 OPS+. In 1987, he OPS'd .583 and posted an OPS+ of 52 in 53 PAs. In spite of this line, Herzog started Pagnozzi at DH is Game 1 of the 1987 World Series against the Twins. Pagnozzi went 1 for 3 with a single. As a testament to how the injury to Jack Clark affected that 1987 club, the trio of 1987 Redibrds who played DH in the World Series--Pendleton, Pena, and Pagnozzi--are all three amongst the worst-hitting DHs in World Series history.

Marlon Anderson is a player one would likely forget when attempting to list out the names of the MV3 Cardinals of 2004. Anderson notched 271 PAs for the 105-win Cards that season and hit .237/.269/.379. His .649 OPS works out to a 66 OPS+ for the season. After going 1 for 2 with a double and finishing Game 1 at second base, La Russa started Anderson at DH in Game 2 at Fenway. Anderson went 0 for 2 with a strikeout before being lifted in the seventh inning for a pinch hitter. It was the only game Anderson started that postseason.

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