Cards All-Time Top 40 – Ken Boyer #9

The Top 40 countdown of the greatest St. Louis Cardinals of all time continues with their third baseman and 1964 Most Valuable Player, Ken Boyer.

Kenton Lloyd Boyer

The Basics

Position

Bat

Thw

Total Yrs

Yrs in StL

HR

RBI

SB

Avg

Third Base

Right

Right

1955-1969

1955-1965

255

1001

97

.293

The Awards

Hall of Fame

Retired #

World Champ

All-Star

MVP

Cy Young

Gold Glove

 -

1984

1

7

1964

NA

5

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

Voter Comments

Rob Rains (13): The fact that Boyer ranks higher on this list than seven Hall of Famers points out that Boyer is deserving of a plaque in Cooperstown as well. Everybody ahead of him on this list also is in the Hall, with the exception of one player who is not yet eligible for consideration.

The MVP in the World Championship season of 1964, Boyer also hit one of the most important home runs in team history, the grand slam in the fourth game of the World Series against the Yankees that propelled the Cardinals to victory.

He won five Gold Gloves, played in eight All-Star games and ranks among the top seven players in franchise history in home runs, RBIs, total bases, games, at-bats, walks, runs and hits. In his 11 seasons in St. Louis, he averaged 23 home runs, 90 runs scored and 91 RBIs at a time those numbers meant something.

Former general manager Bing Devine said of Boyer, "Everything came so easily for him that he appeared to be a casual player. He was quite unassuming, and because of that, he didn't get much attention."

Jerry Modene (6): Poor Kenny had to put up with not only the presence of Brooks Robinson and his own brother Clete in the American League, but the presence of Ron Santo in the National League (to say nothing of the criticism of Harry Caray) – and is thus forgotten today.

Ken is perhaps the best of the four of them, when you measure overall ability on both offense, defense, and the basepaths (Boyer stole as many as 22 bases in an era in which not too many bases were stolen); his 255 home runs in a Cardinal uniform still rates second on the all-time list, although Albert Pujols at 250 is right behind him.

Boyer's early death in 1982 didn't help, either as far as his not being forgotten; think Arky Vaughn, whose premature passing in the 1950's kept him out of the public eye – and the Hall of Fame – for many years thereafter. Scott Rolen may some day supplant Boyer as the greatest third baseman in Cardinal history but for now, Boyer's place is still secure.

Ray Mileur (10): Ken Boyer starred with the St. Louis Cardinals from the mid '50s to the mid '60s. He won five Gold Gloves, earned six All-Star selections and led National League third basemen in double plays five times. At the plate, he hit 23 or more home runs and knocked in at least 90 runs in seven straight seasons. He was the NL Most Valuable Player in 1964 when the Cardinals won their first world championship in two decades.

A career that spanned 15 years, Kenny played in 2,034 games, hitting 282 home runs, 1,141 RBIs, and has a lifetime batting average of .287. Boyer managed for seven seasons in the minor leagues, also returning to the Cardinals as a coach in 1971-72, before becoming manager in 1978. The following year St. Louis finished in third place, but Boyer was dismissed 18 games into the 1980 season. He compiled a 166-190 record in three seasons (1978-80).

Bill James, "baseball's most interesting iconoclast," has ranked Boyer as the 12th best third baseman of all time. James has stated in the past that both Boyer and former Cub Ron Santo both belong in the Hall of Fame and I agree with James on both counts. The Cardinals retired Ken Boyer's number 14 in 1984.

Brian Walton (10): What is it about the great third basemen? They just keep their mouths shut, play the game hard every single day and deliver excellent results with both the bat and glove. Ken Boyer set that mold.

Signed at the age of 18 as a pitcher, Boyer did not arrive in the majors until just prior to his 24th birthday. But once there, he played for 15 seasons, the first 11 of which were with St. Louis. "The Captain" cemented his reputation as a big game player even before the 1964 World Series and his MVP award as the only Cardinal to ever hit for the cycle twice.

Second only to Stan Musial in club history with seven grand slams, Boyer owned a .348 average as a seven-time All-Star. He was no slouch defensively either, as he led third basemen in double plays a record-tying five times to go along with those five Gold Gloves.

Ken Boyer succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 51 in 1982, depriving an entire generation of Cardinals fans the chance to get to know their greatest third baseman of all-time other than perhaps via that retired number 14 on the left field wall at Busch Stadium.

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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