While Major League Baseball does not name MVPs for the Division Series,
we feel Sanders is most deserving of this honor.
In plating those ten runs, Sanders took possession of the NLDS series
record for RBI despite playing just three games. The previous NLDS series RBI
record was nine, set by then-Houston outfielder Carlos Beltran last season.
However, it took Beltran five games to achieve the record.
The Division high-water mark for both leagues was set by Boston’s John Valentin, with 12
RBI in the 1999 ALDS. Sanders will not get a chance at that record until next
year, but no one on the Cardinals will mind, as they’re most undoubtedly pleased
with their sweep of the Padres.
Sanders had an up-and-down 2005 regular season. At age 37, he was on the
way to what might have been a career year before suffering a broken leg on
July 15. It occurred during the first inning of the Cardinals’ very first game
of the second half of the season.
The Cardinals continued to win without Sanders due to the fine play of
replacements John Rodriguez and So Taguchi. As a result, the team could be
cautious with Sanders’ return, allowing him extra time to get ready for October.
Sanders rejoined the Redbirds’ lineup on September 12. But, without a
rehabilitation assignment, he initially struggled in the field and at the plate.
Sanders was 2-for-26 before breaking out in the
Houston series on September 27 and
28. He slammed a pair of home runs and drove in three RBI against the Astros on
Sanders ended the regular season with 21 home runs and 54 RBI and a .271
average in 295 at-bats, helping to fill the gap created by third baseman Scott Rolen’s shoulder injuries. Sanders was also 14-for-15 in stolen base attempts.
If he could have maintained that first-half pace, projecting it to 500
at-bats, Sanders would have ended the season with 36 home runs and 92 RBI, along
with 24 steals. The home runs would have been Sanders’ career high, while he
exceeded 92 RBI only once, way back in 1995. Sanders last stole more than 24
bases in 1999, his only season in San
After playing his first eight years in
Cincinnati with the Reds, Sanders
became a baseball vagabond. Sanders played single seasons with
Arizona (where he picked up a World
Championship ring), San Francisco,
and Pittsburgh. He joined the
Cardinals on a two-year, $6 million free-agent contract before the 2004 season
and will again be eligible for free-agency after the postseason.
If Sanders continues to contribute like this, he will make Cardinals
General Manager Walt Jocketty think hard about re-signing him to a new deal, despite Sanders being 38 years old next season.
But, there is some unfinished business in the meantime. Sanders and his teammates want eight
more wins first.
Sanders' NLDS RBI:
Game 3, second
inning: With starter Woody Williams on the ropes, Sanders slammed a
bases-loaded, two-run double down the right field line to send Woody to the
showers and extend the Cardinals lead to 5-0. Those turned out to be the winning
Game 2, seventh
inning: After Edmonds drew a
leadoff walk and a perfect hit-and-run single by Pujols to right put runners on
the corners, Sanders slapped a first-pitch double into the left field corner to
score both runners. That made the score 6-1, and again iced the Cardinals’
Game 1, third
inning: Sanders shot a two-run single that struck the leg of the diving
first baseman, doubling the Cards’ lead against Jake Peavy and enabled them to
not look back.
Game 1, fifth
inning: After Edmonds and Pujols
singled, Walker took his second free
pass to jam the sacks. Down 3-0 in the count, Sanders got the green light and
put the pitch into the left field seats for a grand slam. That ended Peavy’s
series and gave the Cardinals an insurmountable 8-0 cushion.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at
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