Almost Made the All-Time Cards Top 40: Modene


Posted Feb 26, 2007


The third of three looks at the greatest St. Louis Cardinals players of all time that just missed our Top 40 countdown.

Now that the votes are in, it’s time to consider the guys I voted for but didn’t make the team – as well as some of the guys for whom the other distinguished members of our panel voted, but didn’t make the top 40, either.

Replacing Tim McCarver, George Hendrick, Lindy McDaniel, and Whitey Kurowski (from my rankings) in the overall Top 40. were Jesse Haines, Bill Sherdel, Jason Isringhausen, and Chick Hafey.

As a reminder, here is the overall Top 40, with my list next to it. Highlighted are the names unique to each list.

Group Rank Modene
Stan Musial 1 Stan Musial
Bob Gibson 2 Bob Gibson
Lou Brock 3 Lou Brock
Rogers Hornsby 4 Albert Pujols
Ozzie Smith 5 Ozzie Smith
Albert Pujols 6 Ken Boyer
Dizzy Dean 7 Enos Slaughter
Enos Slaughter 8 Rogers Hornsby
Ken Boyer 9 Red Schoendienst
Red Schoendienst 10 Mark McGwire
Ted Simmons 11 Dizzy Dean
Joe Medwick 12 Ted Simmons
Jim Bottomley 13 Curt Flood
Jim Edmonds 14 Jim Edmonds
Bruce Sutter 15 Ray Lankford
Jesse Haines 16 Marty Marion
Frankie Frisch 17 Bruce Sutter
Johnny Mize 18 Frankie Frisch
Curt Flood 19 Scott Rolen
Ray Lankford 20 Joe Medwick
Harry Brecheen 21 Johnny Mize
Mark McGwire 22 Willie McGee
Willie McGee 23 Keith Hernandez
Marty Marion 24 Joe Torre
Bob Forsch 25 Tim McCarver
Keith Hernandez 26 Harry Breechen
Mort Cooper 27 Julian Javier
Joe Torre 28 George Hendrick
John Tudor 29 Lindy McDaniel
Terry Moore 30 Bob Forsch
Scott Rolen 31 Terry Moore
Pepper Martin 32 Mort Cooper
Steve Carlton 33 Bill White
Bill White 34 Edgar Renteria
Julian Javier 35 Pepper Martin
Bill Sherdel 36 John Tudor
Chris Carpenter 37 Steve Carlton
Jason Isringhausen 38 Jim Bottomley
Chick Hafey 39 Whitey Kurowski 
Edgar Renteria 40 Chris Carpenter

Joining the “didn’t make the cut” list from the other three writers were Lee Smith, Terry Pendleton, Ken Reitz, Tom Herr, Matt Morris, Mike Matheny, Roger Maris, and Bill Doak.

Add those eight to the four I picked who didn’t make the cut and you get a pretty nice “Dirty Dozen”; two catchers, a second baseman (but no shortstop!), three third basemen, two outfielders, three starting pitchers, and one reliever. You could win a few games with that bunch, even though you’d probably have to ask Terry Pendleton to play shortstop!

Anyway, here are my capsule descriptions of the four guys who didn't make the cut:

My “best of the rest” - Kurowski, McDaniel, Hendrick, and McCarver. The latter failed to make the top 40 not because his average took him below 40th place (his average came out to 37th), but because I was the only one who put him on his ballot and by the rules of the game, he needed to be on at least two ballots. Oh well.

Tim McCarver (25): McCarver ought to rate higher perhaps, but there’s just too much talent ahead of him. Ironically, old-timers might wonder how Doggie rates higher than Walker Cooper, but that’s simply because Coop, for all his greatness, was only the regular catcher for the Cards for only 3 ½ seasons (1941-44). McCarver was a blockade at home plate and a solid hitter with good speed (he’s still the only catcher in the modern era to lead the league in triples); his lack of arm strength was his only weakness.

McCarver’s trade to the Phillies, and after his second go-round with the Cardinals, his sale to the Red Sox, seems to have soured him on St. Louis; his comments in Golenbock’s “Spirit of St. Louis” seem rather mean-spirited towards St. Louis and the area media. On the other hand, maybe the reporters did spend too much time early on comparing him to Bill Delancey. Then again, maybe it was all those years working for the Mets.

In any case, at least in 2006 the Cardinals broke the “McCarver Jinx”; up until this year, the Cardinals had never won a postseason series with McCarver as the main network analyst, going all the way back to his first such effort in 1985. (Yes, we did win Game 7 of the NLCS in 2004 against Houston with McCarver in the booth, but he only worked Game 7 – up until that time, we’d been stuck with the backup crew of Thom Brennaman and Steve Lyons.)

George Hendrick (28): The presence of “Silent George” on this list of greatest Cardinals may come as a surprise to some, but not to those of us who saw him play – a solid batsman with a rifle arm, Hendrick led the 1982 World Champions with 18 HR and 105 RBI – and that wasn’t even his best season. Speaking of 1982, why is it that they made such a big deal about Keith Hernandez’ game-tying RBI single in Game Seven, but never mention that Hendrick then drove in the go-ahead run in that same inning? The end of Hendrick’s career with the Cardinals was tainted somewhat by his unwillingness to play against knuckleballers and day games following night games, but then when they did finally trade him, they got John Tudor for him, so there!

Lindy McDaniel (29): Forgotten today in this era of mega-saves and the modern closer, McDaniel may have been the second-or-third greatest relief pitcher of his era, trailing only the venerable Hoyt Wilhelm and maybe Elroy Face. His 1960 season (12 wins, 26 saves, 2.09 ERA) was one of the great relief seasons of all time, but nobody noticed because the year before, 1959, was the year that Pittsburgh’s Face won 18 games in relief, still the major-league record. Lindy is also remembered as the brother of famous Cardinal flame-out Von McDaniel, the 1950’s entry in the long list of young Cardinal pitchers who burned out early after spectacular beginnings (Paul Dean, Dick Hughes, John Fulgham, and Joe Magrane also make that list).

Whitey Kurowski (39): In compiling these lists, I was mindful of the ratings as they existed when I first became a serious Cardinal fan in 1970; back then, any discussion of the all-time greats always included several members of the Cardinals of the 1930’s and 1940’s. Kurowski’s career was hampered – and eventually ended – by his various injuries and ailments, but he was a solid third baseman with good (for the era) power and a keen eye, as evidenced by his .366 lifetime OBA. He really only had four seasons at his peak before the injuries caught up with him, but he was good enough to make my top 40.

Now, in bonus coverage, here are the other five “best of the rest”, with names chosen by Rob Rains and commentary by Jerry Modene:

Again, here is the overall Top 40, with Rains’ list next to it. Highlighted are the names unique to each list.

Group                 Rank   Rains
Stan Musial           1      Stan Musial
Bob Gibson            2      Bob Gibson
Lou Brock              3      Lou Brock
Rogers Hornsby      4      Rogers Hornsby
Ozzie Smith           5      Ozzie Smith
Albert Pujols          6      Dizzy Dean
Dizzy Dean            7      Joe Medwick
Enos Slaughter       8      Albert Pujols
Ken Boyer             9      Red Schoendienst
Red Schoendienst  10     Jim Bottomley
Ted Simmons        11     Enos Slaughter
Joe Medwick         12     Jesse Haines
Jim Bottomley       13     Ken Boyer
Jim Edmonds         14    Ted Simmons
Bruce Sutter        15     Marty Marion
Jesse Haines        16     Terry Moore
Frankie Frisch       17     Bruce Sutter
Johnny Mize         18     Bob Forsch
Curt Flood           19     Jim Edmonds
Ray Lankford        20     Willie McGee
Harry Brecheen     21     Keith Hernandez
Mark McGwire     22     Joe Torre
Willie McGee         23     John Tudor
Marty Marion        24     Curt Flood
Bob Forsch           25     Frankie Frisch
Keith Hernandez    26     Ray Lankford
Mort Cooper         27     Johnny Mize
Joe Torre             28     Harry Brecheen
John Tudor           29     Mort Cooper
Terry Moore         30     Pepper Martin
Scott Rolen         31     Julian Javier
Pepper Martin       32     Bill Sherdel
Steve Carlton     33     Terry Pendleton
Bill White             34     Ken Reitz
Julian Javier         35     Tom Herr
Bill Sherdel           36     Bill White
Chris Carpenter  37     Edgar Renteria
J. Isringhausen   38     Chick Hafey
Chick Hafey          39     Matt Morris
Edgar Renteria      40     Mike Matheny

Terry Pendleton (33): Pendleton was a great defensive third baseman whose emergence in 1984 allowed the Cards to trade Ken Oberkfell to Atlanta in the deal that brought Ken Dayley (a very valuable lefty reliever) to St. Louis. However, with the exception of the 1984 and 1987 seasons, Terry never really hit much as a Cardinal – his career numbers in St. Louis were .259/.308/.356 – and that’s why I didn’t put him in my Top 40.

His fame really came after he left the Cards and signed with Atlanta, winning the 1991 MVP and driving in 105 runs in 1992. Pendleton may hold a historical distinction – he’s the last Cardinal player to beat the team in arbitration (which is the main reason the brewery let him go free agent after the disastrous 1990 season).

Ken Reitz (34): One of the very few players who was re-obtained by the Cardinals after having been traded away. (They had dealt him to the Giants for Pete Falcone and had Heity Cruz take over at 3b for the 1976 season. That proved to be so disastrous that the Cards traded Lynn McGlothen to the Giants the following winter to get Reitz back!)

Kenny was a tremendous defensive third baseman and a decent enough hitter for the time – he peaked at 17 home runs and 79 RBIs in his first year back with the club in 1977. Couldn’t run a lick, though; he was undoubtedly the player Whitey Herzog was referring to when he wrote about players “needing two trips to haul ass”. Almost rejoined the Cards for a third go-round in the mid 1980’s, but ran into problems in AAA and was released. Ultimately, his career .292 OBA as a Cardinal kept him off my ballot.

Tom Herr (35): A player who could have – and possibly should have – made the list except that Cardinal history is so full of good infielders that there simply wasn’t room for him. A smart ballplayer who is now managing in the minor leagues, Tommy had that great season in 1985 when he drove in 110 runs while hitting only eight home runs. My memory is that it took the fans a little while to warm up to him; I can remember sitting in the high-center-field seats at Busch II in September 1982 and having a fan tell me in all seriousness that the Cards should bench Herr and move Willie McGee to second base! By the time he was traded to the Twins (for the much-needed power of Tom Brunansky, a good and unappreciated player during his time with the Cards), Tommy was a crowd favorite, though.

Matt Morris (39): Morris is a guy who deserves mention if only because he’s the first Cardinal starter since Bob Gibson and Bob Forsch who has stuck around long enough to garner 100+ wins as a Cardinal. His 101 wins in St. Louis ties Larry Jackson and Max Lanier (two guys who were also worthy of consideration) for 13th on the franchise list. Fans today tend to remember the inconsistent Morris of the past few seasons, though; this is probably unfair, though as Morris was, for a few years anyway, a legitimately excellent pitcher. A lot of people believe, and I’m leaning in that direction myself, that Morris was never quite the same after the untimely passing of Darryl Kile, to whom he was particularly close.

Mike Matheny (40): Unquestionably the greatest defensive catcher in the history of the Cardinals would have made the Top 40 if he could have only hit. The Cards have been extremely fortunate to have the best defensive catchers available for eight seasons running now (and, if you count Tony Pena and Tom Pagnozzi, we’ve had great defensive catchers almost every season since 1987!); Matheny actually could hit a little bit, especially early in the season before the rigors of catching wore him down. His absence behind the plate in the 2000 postseason (he had cut himself on a birthday-gift hunting knife a week before the playoffs started) probably cost a World Series appearance, to say nothing of the effect his absence had on poor Rick Ankiel.



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


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