While I can't claim membership in the left-handed fraternity, I've always admired from afar.
Over the years, the St. Louis Cardinals have had quite a few talented lefty pitchers leading the way for the franchise.
So, on International left-handers day (August 13), I decided to rank them.
I used three pretty basic criteria for this casual list.
1: Impact with Cardinals
2: Pure talent level
3: Name recognition
So let's get to it, first with the honorable mentions.
Rick Ankiel: When he made his debut in 1999, I'd bet there were quite a few people who thought he'd someday end up at the top of this list. No, Rick Ankiel never turned out to be the "next Koufax" like he was often projected, but his talent was undeniable. Before the yips and the injuries, Ankiel was must-see TV. In his first full season in 2000, he averaged 10 strikeouts per nine innings, won 11 games and finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting to Rafael Furcal.
Al Hrabosky: When you think of the "Mad Hungarian" you likely go right to his broadcasting career or "psyching up" routine on the mound. But the intense reliever was more than that. In his eight years with the Cardinals, Hrabosky recorded 59 saves, leading the league in 1975, and finished in the top five of the Cy Young voting twice.
Bill Hallahan: "Wild Bill" Hallahan pitched for the Cardinals from 1925 to 1936. In his 10 seasons with the club, he won three World Series championships, holding a career 1.36 ERA in the fall classic. He also led the National League in strikeouts twice, and had 19 wins in 1931.
Bill Sherdel: Sherdel pitched 15 season for the Cardinals from 1918 to 1930, and then again in 1932. During that time he racked up 153 wins for the redbirds with just a 3.64 ERA.
5: Max Lanier
Lanier pitched 13 years with the Cardinals, starting in 1938.
Over that time, he racked up a .568 winning percentage, a 2.84 ERA and a 1.297 WHIP.
In his 101 wins for the franchise, 20 of them were shut outs.
Lanier also won two World Series titles with the Cardinals, holding a 1.71 ERA in the fall classic and winning two games.
4: John Tudor
John Tudor only pitched in five seasons for the Cardinals, but what an impressive five seasons they were.
His 1985 season is one of the greatest seasons by a Cardinals pitcher in the history of the franchise. In 1985, Tudor racked up 21 wins in 36 starts to the tune of a minuscule 1.93 ERA and 0.938 WHIP. He finished second to Dwight Gooden in Cy Young voting that season, with Gooden having one of the most dominant seasons in MLB history.
Tudor holds a 2.52 ERA over his entire Cardinals career, while going 62 and 26 and helping the team reach the 1985 and 1987 World Series.
3: Howie Pollet
Pollet owns a pretty interesting career for the Cardinals.
After pitching for the team from 1941 (and making the all-star team in '41, Pollet forfeited two of his prime season in 1944 and 1945 to serve in the military in World War II.
When he was on the mound, Pollet was one of the best pitchers in baseball.
He was a three-time all-star, holds a winning percentage of .599, an ERA of 3.06 and led the league in ERA twice in St. Louis.
Pollet won two World Series championships as a player in St. Louis, and one more as the team's pitching coach in 1964.
If you're a Cardinals fan and didn't know who Harry Brecheen was before reading this article, listen up.
Just in terms of sheer wealth of time and stats accumulated, Brecheen is probably the greatest lefty in Cardinals history.
After all, there's a reason he's in the Cardinals' Hall of Fame.
Over 11 seasons with the Cardinals, "The Cat" won 128 games and threw 25 shut outs. He amassed 857 strikeouts, 1790.1 innings pitched, was a two-time all-star, held an ERA of 2.91 and a WHIP of 1.181 and won two World Series titles.
In 1948, Brecheen led the league in ERA, strikeouts, ERA+, FIP, WHIP and strikeout to walk ratio.
He was also dominant in the postseason for the Cardinals. In seven World Series games, Brecheen went 4-1 with a crazy 0.83 ERA in 32.2 innings.
Even the worst trade in Cardinals history couldn't keep Carlton from the number one spot on this list.
The one true "lefty" started his hall of fame career in St. Louis before being shipped to Philadelphia for Rick Wise before the 1972 season.
In St. Louis, Carlton had five consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins, 951 strikeouts and owned a 3.10 ERA as a redbird.
Carlton was also part of the 1967 World Series championship team in his first full season in the big leagues.
He really broke out the year the Cardinals traded him to Philadelphia, where he won the 1972 Cy Young Award with 27 wins and a 1.97 ERA.
The history books remember might remember Carlton as a Phillies hall of famer, but Cardinals fans can remember him as the best left-hander in franchise history.
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