Best Cardinals of All-Time - Starting Pitching Edition

There have been 32 men lucky enough to have started 150 or more games for the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Danny Cox is the only one of them to have thrown less than 1,000 innings as a Cardinal - ending his career at 985 2/3 IP with the Birds on the Bat. Of course, Bob Gibson has the most innings pitched at 3,884 2/3.

From there, I used a very complicated formula involving:

  • Win %
  • Wins
  • Losses
  • IP
  • ERA
  • ERA+
  • FIP
  • WHIP
  • K
  • BB
  • HR
  • H
  • H/9
  • K/9
  • BB/9
  • K/BB
  • HR/9
  • BAA
  • K%
  • BB%
  • CG
  • SHO
  • CG/SHO

I then took this data and ranked the players at each position against each other, accounting for small or large differences in each statistic in able to see who was the best of the best.

10) Steve Carlton is best known for his 15 years spent in Philadelphia as a Phillie, but he started as a St. Louis Cardinal before being traded for Rick Wise (in what might be the opposite of the Brock for Broglio classic I mentioned in another post). Before being traded, Carlton (only 26) had won 74 games in the previous 5 seasons. He was a 3 time All-Star in those five years, averaging 15 wins, 238 innings, 13 complete games, a 3.11 ERA (113 ERA+), and a 2.14 K/BB. Unfortunately, he had lost 19 games two years before being traded - however, he rebounded to win 20 the year before being traded. I am glad that I was not around then, because I might still be upset with this trade. (He went on to put up a 12.2 WAR season winning the Cy Young the next year - to go along with 3 more before he retired.) Despite only being in St. Louis, playing second fiddle to Gibson (more on him later), for 7 seasons; Carlton won one WS title with the Cardinals and lost another. If he would have stayed in St. Louis and had the same career, he would have made his way past at least 8 others on this list...but he didn't.

9) Harry (Harry the Cat) Brecheen is a mainly WII player (mostly 1940s player) - the one and only on this list. That is quite surprising to me considering went to four WS in the 40s and won 3 of them. Of course, I just have to think back to the other lists with Musial, Kurowski, Mize, Slaughter and others leading the way offensively for these clubs. Brecheen played all of his 12 seasons in MLB in the lovely city of St. Louis, MO. He played 11 of them with the Cardinals and the last season of his career across downtown with the St. Louis Browns (now Baltimore Orioles) franchise. From 1943-1949, Brecheen was at his best - garnering MVP votes and AS appearances in multiple seasons. It was the middle four years 1945-1948 that really served Brecheen well, being tops in WL% once, ERA once, Ks once, ERA+ once, WHIP once, HR/9 once, K/9 once, and SO/BB once. Harry the Cat earned victories in over 60% of his decisions as a Cardinal;winning about 13 a year, while losing about 8 a year. He threw complete games in 54% of his St. Louis starts, showing just what he meant to those 40s teams, known for their hitting. Great job Harry the Cat!

8) Matt Morris (Matty Mo) was one of my favorites growing up. He played his best baseball as a St. Louis Cardinal before being shipped off (via being granted free agency and not being brought back - mainly due to injury history and younger pitchers stepping into the rotation than anything). Matt Morris only led the league in wins in 2001 and shutouts in 2003 in his career. He made two All-Star teams, finished 3rd in the Cy Young once, and second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1997. He lost most of two years due to tommy john surgery in 1998 - coming back in the middle of the 2000 season. Morris is on this list because he put together a near RoY season in 1997, followed it up with a great start to 1998 before getting hurt. He finished off 2000 well before getting the Comeback player of the Year Award in 2001, his first full season after his 1997 rookie campaign. He then went to the All-Star game the following year and earned 17 wins (39 in two seasons). He had a better year, but not a better WL% the following year and was snubbed for the AS game. 2004 was his worst healthy year as a Cardinal, but he still provided 15 wins to a 105 win team. He rebounded (on a one-year contract0 the following year to get 14 more wins on a 100 win team. That set him up for a great contract offer from the Giants and he took it with the team getting more youthful in St. Louis for 2006. Unfortunately for Matty Mo, he left just in time to watch his friends get World Series rings. That could have bumped him up higher on this list.

7) Dave (Scissors) Foutz was a darn good hitter (with a darn good nickname) - .901 OPS over 448 plate appearances in his last season with St. Louis in 1887. In fact, he had a .728 OPS (112 OPS+) in nearly 1,250 PAs in his 4 St. Louis seasons. He may have been a better pitcher than hitter over that stretch. His 114-48 record (.704 WL%) is the best in St. Louis starting pitcher history. His 41 wins in are second in any St. Louis single season next to Silver King's (more on him coming up) and third in baseball history! He led the league (obviously) in both wins and WL% that season, along with ERA, saves (1), and ERA+. He had a 12.3 pitching WAR (according to b-r) that season. That's good for 7th on our list.

6) Charles Frederick "Silver" King was a St. Louis boy who threw his first 5 games for the Kansas City Cowboys of the National League in 1886. He then spent the 1887-1889 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. After those three seasons, he bounced around 5 different teams over the next 8 seasons. His three seasons with the Cardinals were very good. His 1888 season was completely dominant. He led the league with 45 wins that year, throwing 584 2/3 innings at 1.63 ERA ball. He threw in 64 games, starting 64 of them. He threw a complete ame in every start - shutout out his opponents 6 times. He also had a league leading WHIP of 0.874 and a 3.39 K/BB. He twice lost the World Series - which were much different back then. King went 1-3 in the 1887 WS lost to the Detroit Wolverines 10 games to 5. He also went 1-3 in the 1888 WS loss to the New York Giants 6 games to 4. King died in St. Louis at the age of 70 and is buried in St. Louis - home of his beloved St. Louis squad.

5) Jay Hanna Dean (Dizzy) was born in Lucas, Arkansas. The St. Louis Cardinals were the closest team to his home town and Dizzy got to come be a part of the Gas House Gang in St. Lou. He pitched the first 6 fuill seasons of his career in St. Louis leading them to one WS title in two tries. In his first game as a Cardinal - 2 calendar years before he was brought up for good - Dizzy threw a complete game three-hitter. Dizzy went to four All-Star games as a Cardinal, finished second in the MVP voting twice, and won the MVP in 1934.

Dizzy led the league in countless categories: Wins twice, WL% once, games pitched twice, starts once, complete games three times, shutouts twice, saves once (in the same year he led the league in complete games), innings pitched three times, strikeouts four straight seasons, batters faced twice, walks per 9 once, strikeouts per 9 twice ,and stirkeouts per walk twice. This led Dizzy into the Hall of Fame in 1953.

4) Bob Caruthers (Parisian Bob) started his career in St. Louis with the 1884 Browns at the age of 20. He stayed for 4 seasons before leaving town. He came back to end his career in 1892 with the St. Louis Browns at the age of 28. Caruthers played in an era where pitchers threw nearly twice as many innings as the best of the best in today's game. Caruthers threw 482 1/3 innings in 1885 as one of only 3 pitchers on the squad. He led the league with 40 wins, a .755 WL%, a 2.07 ERA, a 158 ERA+, and a 0.1 HR/9 rate that season. He again led the league in WL% in 1887 at .763 - he also led in WHIP that year. Caruthers is the WHIP leader of Cardinals' pitchers at 1.095 over his near-1,400 innings.

When not pitching, Caruthers played outfield for the Cardinals, and he played it well. In 1886 and 1887, he had OPSes of .974 (in 382 plate appearances) and 1.010 (in 436 plate appearances), respectively. He led the league in OBP, OPS, and OPS+ in 1886 - the same year he threw 387 1/3 innings and won 30 of 44 games pitched (starting 43 of them.)

3) Chris Carpenter came to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004 at the age of 29. He threw three glorious seasons before getting hurt in the first game of the 2007 campaign. The 2007-2008 campaigns were spent on the DL throwing a total of 21 1/3 innings. The Cardinals teams greatly suffered while he was on the shelf. From 2009-2011, Carpenter was back and completely glorious again. Without those two seasons on the shelf, Carpenter could (and in my estimation would) very well be #2 on this list. Carpenter has won 15 games in 5 of his 6 full seasons with the team. He has gone 95-40 in the six seasons he was completely healthy and 0-2 in the other two series. He has once led the league in WL%, ERA, CG, SHO, IP, batters faced, ERA+, WHIP, and HR/9. He also twice led the league in games started - the last two years at age 35 and 36. Carpenter was the Cy Young winner in 2005, finished third in 2006, and second in 2009 - when he came back from his two-season injury. He is also a three-time all-star. He has struck out 3.66 for every person he has walked - leading all 32 other Cardinals' starters on this list. He also leads them in K% - striking ou 19.9% of the batters he has faced as a Cardinal starter! He has the least losses of anyone on the list, as well. Lastly, Carp throws a shutout in nearly 1/2 of the games in which he goes the complete game - and that does not include the 2011 NLCS game 5, in which he beat Roy Halladay in an epic 1-0 tilt for the ages. Carpenter led the Cardinals to their 10th and 11th World Championships in 2006 and 2011. He was injured for the World Series in the 2004 season, thus he has won every World Series in which he has taken part.

2) George Washington McGinnis, nicknamed Jumbo, pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals' franchise back when they were the St. Louis Brown Stockings in 1882 and the St. Louis Browns in 1883-1886. He was a hometown kid who led his team to one second place finish (by just a game) and one first place finish in his four full seasons as a part of the St. Louis nine. In his only three healthy seasons with St. Louis, he had 25, 28, and 24 wins with over 350 innings pitched each year. Unfortunately, the only thing he ever led the league in was shutouts in 1883, with 6. His best attribute, as far as I can tell, was that he simply refused to walk people and he did not give up home runs. Granted, the rules were quite different back then. Anyway, he had a 1.4 BB/9, walking only 203 in 1,325 innings, at a 3.7% rate. He also gave up only 12 home runs in that time. Jumbo won 59% of his decisions as a Cardinal. These statistics led him to be the second best St. Louis starter on this list.

1) Bob Gibson, "Gibby", is my Dad's favorite player of All-Time (in any sport, in any time). Gibson seemed to throw a million miles an hour and might have thrown harder than that, according to the stories. Growing up on the "wrong side" of Omaha, NE made Gibson a fierce competitor. He was said to have never "fraternized with the enemy" before the game - never talking (kindly) to his opponent until the game is over. He once said, "When I was playing I never wished I was doing anything else. I think being a professional athlete is the finest thing a man can do." That shows his mindset. He was also athletic enough to have been a Harlem Globetrotter for a year.

Quite possibly first and foremost, Gibby led the St. Louis Cardinals to the 1964 and 1967 World Series Championships. He also led them to the 1968 World Series - in a season for the ages, in which he set the modern record for ERA at 1.12 for an entire season of over 300 innings pitched. He also led these 32 Cardinals in Wins at 251, innings pitched, strikeouts at 3,117, hits per 9 innins at 7.6 (6.1 all-time in the post season), batting average against at .224, complete games at 255, and shutouts at 56. Gibby had 5 seasons of 20 or more wins - leading the league once. He also led the league in ERA once (previously mentioned), complete games once, shutouts 4 times, strikeouts once, ERA+ twice, WHIP once, H/9 once, and HR/9 once. He was an 8 time All Star, won 2 Cy Youngs, won the MVP in 1968 as a pitcher, won two World Series MVPs (1964 and 1967), and won 9 straight Gold Gloves.

Nearly 30 years after his retirement, he still ranks 14th in strikeouts for a major leaguer in his career, 15th in pitching WAR, 13th in shutouts, and had two seasons with 5 home runs at the plate - in fact, he was good enough at the plate to have 1.0 offensive WAR in three seperate seasons. Lastly, Gibby is a Cardinal Hall of Famer and a Cooperstown Hall of Famer.

Congratulations to those great Cardinal starting pitchers!

The entire list of 32:

  1. Bob Gibson - 31.12 points (then a huge drop)
  2. Jumbo McGinnis - 28.28
  3. Chris Carpenter - 28.23 (then a big drop)
  4. Bob Caruthers - 26.51
  5. Dizzy Dean - 26.34
  6. Silver King - 25.96
  7. Dave Foutz - 25.68 (then a medium drop)
  8. Matt Morris - 24.63 (Whoa, Matty! Nice!)
  9. Harry Brecheen - 24.51
  10. Steve Carlton - 24.20
  11. Max Lanier - 24.02
  12. Mort Cooper - 23.90
  13. Bill Doak - 23.58
  14. Ray Washburn - 23.44
  15. Joaquin Andujar - 23.433
  16. Ernie Broglio - 23.430
  17. Curt Simmons - 23.29
  18. Slim Sallee - 22.87
  19. Howie Pollet - 22.64
  20. Jesse Haines - 22.60
  21. Larry Jackson - 22.32
  22. Bob Forsch - 22.29 (then a medium drop)
  23. Danny Cox - 21.20
  24. Lon Warneke - 21.16
  25. Bill Sherdel - 21.10
  26. Vinegar Bend Mizell - 20.96 (great name!)
  27. Bill Hallahan - 20.68 (then a small drop)
  28. Ray Sedecki - 19.81
  29. Garry Staley - 19.73 (then a small drop)
  30. Flint Rhem - 18.86 (another great name)
  31. Bob Harmon - 18.66
  32. Ted Breitenstein - 18.56
Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Viva El Birdos

You must be a member of Viva El Birdos to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Viva El Birdos. You should read them.

Join Viva El Birdos

You must be a member of Viva El Birdos to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Viva El Birdos. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.