On one end of the spectrum, you've got the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Further down the line, you've got something like the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, which is actually just a bunch of old pinball games in a defunct grocery store (and a hell of a lot of fun). Check the back-room wall of any local dive bar, and you're likely to find a slow pitch softball hall of fame, or a polka hall of fame... The point is, there are a lot of halls of fame.
The Cardinals Hall of Fame, since its formal reconstitution as part of Ballpark Village in 2014, has tended toward the higher end of the HoF spectrum. For a team with as rich a history and so many championships as the Cardinals, they've managed to put together an annual ballot of players who seem "hall of fame worthy."
Of course, there's always the risk of your pool of honorees becoming diluted. Just look at the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, which began with the likes of Elvis Presley and James Brown, and this year I believe will be considering Semisonic and the guy who only danced in The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones.
So, is this year's Cardinals Hall of Fame ballot still loaded with the legends of rock? Or are there any Buckcherries on the list?
*As a Cardinal. Also, I used bWAR because they compile by team and I'm lazy.
One of these things is not like the other...
More often than any pitcher in Cardinals history, Jason Isringhausen was standing on the mound at the end of a game the Cardinals won by no more than three runs (or the tying run was at least on deck), and he had pitched at least 1/3 of an inning and was not credited with a Win. But if you set aside that rather convoluted set of circumstances, he doesn't dip much above average by most statistical measures.
Scott Rolen, also new to the ballot, spent his six seasons either being very good or very injured. His 2004 season, when he put up 9.1 WAR, is in the Top 20 all-time by a Cardinal and the only one by a player not currently (or sure to be) in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The other new guy on this year's ballot is Chris Carpenter. He ranks 10th all-time in WAR among Cardinals pitchers, first in ERA+ (tied with Adam Wainwright), 2nd in K/9... And on the intangibles side of the ledger, he started 18 postseason games, including pitching for two World Series winners, and out-dueled Peak Roy Halladay in one of the greatest postseason pitching matchups of all-time.
The other guys on the ballot are all holdovers from last year. Oddly, Steve Carlton was left off after being under consideration last year. As an MLB Hall of Famer who put up more than 20 WAR in his seven seasons in St. Louis, it seems an odd omission. That said, in addition to the two voted-in by fans and one veteran (retired more than 40 years) chosen by the selection committee, there has been a fourth member chosen by ownership. Perhaps that will be Carlton?
As I remarked when they were nominees last season, Hernandez, McGwire and Torre were all great players, but may not exist in the public consciousness as "Cardinals". McGwire played the bulk of his career in Oakland; Torre spent more time as a Brave and is now mostly linked with the Yankees. Hernandez, while he spent 10 years in St. Louis and won an MVP award here, is more associated with the Mets given the Championship he won there and his career as a broadcaster and Seinfeld guest star.
Edgar Renteria and Matt Morris were both very good players who logged their most productive seasons as Cardinals, but unlike the non-Isringhausens on this list, were never really in the conversation for best player in the league at their given positions.
Voting is scheduled to begin sometime this month, and you are allowed to vote for two players.
For me, Chris Carpenter stands well above the others on this list, and would surely get my first vote. After that, for me it's a pick 'em between Hernandez, Torre and McGwire. On paper, I'd probably have to go with Hernandez. But in my heart, since I never watched Hernandez and Torre as Cardinals, and because McGwire was the star of one of the more memorable moments of my Cardinal fandom, and his move to St. Louis was a precursor to an unprecedented run of success after a decade of pretty middling baseball, I'd probably vote for Big Mac.
How about you?