Cards All-Time Top 40 – Joe Torre #28

Cards All-Time Top 40 – Joe Torre #28

The Top 40 countdown of the greatest St. Louis Cardinals of all time continues with their Most Valuable Player Award winner from 1971, Joe Torre.

Joseph Paul Torre

The Basics

Position

Bat

Thw

Total Yrs

Yrs in StL

HR

RBI

SB

Avg

Catcher, First, Third Base

Right

Right

1960-1977

1969-1974

98

558

12

.308

The Awards

Hall of Fame

Retired #

World Champ

All-Star

MVP

Cy Young

Gold Glove

 -

 -

 -

4

1971

NA

 -

Note: All stats and awards listed are for years as a Cardinal only.
Torre's career stats available from baseball-reference.com.

Voter Comments

Rob Rains (22): In six seasons in St. Louis, Torre made the All-Star team four times and was named the league Most Valuable Player in 1971 with what probably ranks as the second greatest offensive season by a player in franchise history, behind only Stan Musial's 1948 campaign. Torre, never known for his speed, had 230 hits, good for a league-leading .363 average, with 137 RBIs and 352 total bases, all the best in the National League.

It was the first time one player had led the league in four offensive categories since Musial in 1948. Torre said he would have traded that season for a World Series ring, and he later got those too, managing the New York Yankees.

Jerry Modene (24): Torre's 1971 season is what primarily propels him onto this list; he only spent six years with the Cardinals. Nevertheless, that 1971 MVP year of his (.363-24-137, a .421 OBA and a .555 SLG – huge numbers for that era) is almost enough all by itself. However, we tend to forget that his 1969 and 1970 seasons were also excellent.

That said, Torre arrived in St. Louis with a reputation as an overweight catcher who played first base his first year with the club, replacing the wildly-popular Orlando Cepeda, but worked his weight down and made himself into a decent third baseman under the tutelage of George Kissell.

Ray Mileur (36): Torre will probably be most often remembered in baseball history as the manager of the New York Yankees, but long before he put on the pinstripes he wore the Birds on the Bat in St. Louis from 1969-1974.

In 1971 he led the National League with a .363 batting average, 230 hits and 137 RBI, adding 24 homers and 34 doubles on his way to the NL MVP and the Hutch award.

The Hutch Award was created in 1965 and given to the Major League ballplayer that best exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire of Fred Hutchinson, who died of cancer in the middle of the 1964 season, while managing the Cincinnati Reds. Torre's fighting spirit and competitive desire has never been in question, endearing him to baseball fans everywhere.

A four-time All-Star in his six years with St. Louis, Torre is widely recognized as one of the greatest Cardinals of all-time.

Brian Walton (29): Joe Torre had the misfortune of playing his prime of his career, ages 28 through 33, with the 1969 through 1974 Cardinals. The deck was stacked against him from the very start, having arrived as the return for the ultra-popular Orlando Cepeda just after the Cardinals had appeared in two consecutive World Series and as they entered a downswing that would remain until Whitey Herzog's "Boys" arrived on the scene twelve years later. The Cardinals limped home in fourth place three times and placed second three more during Torre's tenure with the club.

But, it wasn't his fault, at least during his first three superb seasons. As it would play out again in his later years as the Cardinals' skipper, Torre simply didn't have a lot of help around him. In fact, despite being a Cardinal only six years, Torre is seventh on the Cardinals' career intentional base on balls list. Here's another way to look at it – during those first three seasons, each year Torre averaged 40 more runs batted in than the next most prolific Cardinals RBI man!

As noted, Torre's 1971 MVP season stands out as one of the greatest in team history. To put those 230 hits into perspective, even Stan Musial never had more in a season. That total is tied for fourth-best on the Cards' all-time list. Only three Cardinals players have ever topped Torre's 137 RBI in a single season - McGwire, Medwick and Hornsby. As great as he is, even Albert Pujols hasn't yet brought home more runners in a season than Torre did in 1971.

Voter Comments Key: Voter (Individual Ranking); NR = Not Rated

Master List: To see our entire list of the greatest 40 Cardinals players of all-time as they are unveiled daily, click here.

© 2007 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.

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