Cards All-Time Top 40 – Ray Lankford #20


Posted Feb 4, 2007


The Top 40 countdown of the greatest St. Louis Cardinals of all time continues with their offensive leader through the decade of the 1990’s, outfielder Ray Lankford.

Raymond Lewis Lankford

The Basics

Position

Bat

Thw

Total Yrs

Yrs in StL

HR

RBI

SB

Avg

Outfield

Left

Left

1990-2004

1990-2001, 2004

228

829

250

.273

The Awards

Hall of Fame

Retired #

World Champ

All-Star

MVP

Cy Young

Gold Glove

 -

 -

 -

1

 -

NA

 -

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

Voter Comments

Rob Rains (26): Ask any casual Cardinal fan which St. Louis player hit the most career home runs at Busch Stadium II, and you would probably hear a lot of guesses before the correct answer was given. Ray Lankford, with 123 career home runs in the park, is the correct answer, four more than Mark McGwire. To be completely accurate, 122 of Lankford's homers came as a Cardinal, one as a member of the San Diego Padres.

For all of his career success, however, Lankford never received the recognition he should have during his career. He ranks fifth on the all-time home run chart, is seventh in career RBI, ninth in career total bases and fifth in career stolen bases. Part of the oversight in recognition is due no doubt to the fact that during Lankford's 13 seasons in St. Louis, the team only reached the playoffs twice and failed to advance to the World Series.

Jerry Modene (15): A lot of people will be surprised to see me rate “K-Ray” so high on the list, but we forget just how good a player Lankford was before his knee surgery in the late 1990’s – this was a guy who, at his peak, was a solid defensive center fielder and a legitimate 30/30 threat who, despite a .273 lifetime batting average as a Cardinal, still managed an OBP 92 points higher, .365.

Part of it is the length of his tenure in St. Louis, of course (12+ seasons), but Lankford nevertheless rates number five on the Cards’ all-time home run list with 228, eighth in runs scored with 928, sixth in stolen bases with 250, number eight in RBI with 829, and fourth in walks with 780. Unfortunately, he also rates second in lifetime K’s with 1449 (20 fewer than Lou Brock), and nowadays, that’s all some people remember.

Ray Mileur (21): One of the best outfielders in Cardinals history, Ray Lankford was called by Mark McGwire the best hitting protection he had ever had in his career.

Known for his combination of power, speed, and defensive prowess, Lankford posted one of the longest and most distinguished careers in the history of Cardinals baseball. He still ranks among the Cardinals batting All-Time Top 10; Home Runs (228 -5th), Total Bases (2606-9th), RBI (829-7th), Stolen Bases (250-5th), Runs (928-8th) and Games (1580-9th).

Lankford hit more home runs at Busch Stadium than any other player, and finished his career at Busch with a pinch-hit home run in his final major league at bat on October 3, 2004.

Fans tend to remember the days when Lankford, well past his prime, was playing off the bench, more than his glory days in St. Louis. It pains me to hear fans make comments like he doesn’t belong on a Top 100 list, let alone our Top 40. I ranked him at 21 on my list and he belongs here.

Brian Walton (25): Homegrown by the Cardinals organization after they drafted him in the third round in 1987, Lankford was not only underrated by Cardinals fans, but he also received scant recognition around the game. The multi-talented outfielder was surprisingly named to just one All-Star Game over his entire 14-season career and never once placed in the top 15 in the National League Most Valuable Player Award voting.

Immensely talented in all aspects of the game, it was not Lankford’s fault that he didn’t have a lot of help from his teammates. Generally speaking, the Cardinals clubs of his era were good, but never great.

Yes, Lankford struck out a lot. In fact, he put up three of the franchise’s top seven seasons in strikeouts ever and his 1550 Ks represents the 27th most in the history of the game. But, remember that in order to stay around that long, you have to be pretty good in your own right. Ray Lankford was.

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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