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SB Nation Theme Week April 13-19: The Best Cardinals Team That Didn’t Win the World Series

NLCS Game 1 Astros v Cardinals Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB via Getty Images

With sports taking a back seat for the foreseeable future, blogs here at SB Nation are navigating through our own challenging time. Without live games to cover or offseason ramblings to chase, story topics are getting pretty picked through. To help work through this, team blogs are doing theme weeks. We will start a new theme every Monday and write many of our stories based on it through the week. This week’s theme: the best Cardinals team to not win the World Series.

We knew pretty soon after our discussion began what team we wanted to do. The best Cardinals team to not win the World Series was the 2004 club. (Worth noting are the 1943, 1968, 1985, and 2013 teams that also came up in our chat.) The 105-win Cardinals were anchored by Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, and Scott Rolen, a trio fittingly known as the team’s ‘MV3.’ Chris Carpenter, Matt Morris, Jason Marquis, Woody Williams, and Jeff Suppan composed the team’s rotation. The bullpen was highlighted by the lefty duo of Ray King and Steve Kline and closer Jason Isringhausen, who charted 47 saves.

This Cardinals team was consistently great throughout the entire summer. St. Louis won 54 games in the first half of the season and 51 in the second half, with 53 total wins at home and 52 on the road. Pujols, Edmonds, and Rolen drove in more than 100 runs apiece. Everyone in the rotation made at least 28 starts, and the bullpen topped the Majors with a 3.01 ERA and 3.62 FIP. As the team soared through the summer, it was little surprise to see the Cardinals win the Central by 13 games. And as the summer floated by, the Cardinals seemed like a sure favorite to win the World Series. They seemingly had it all.

But as it played out, the Cardinals were not the 2004 World Series champions. After battling to knock out the Astros to win the pennant, the Cardinals ultimately fell to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. For the Red Sox, it was a storybook ending. Down 3-1 in the ALCS to the Yankees, Boston came back to win three in a row to advance to the Fall Classic. Then, they swept the Cardinals in four games for their first title since 1918.

We will be talking about the 2004 club all week long here at VEB. Stick around!