ST. LOUIS — When the clock hits midnight on January 1, another decade will have come and gone.
We've seen a lot of good baseball in St. Louis over the last ten years, but who would make up a Cardinals "All-Decade" team?
That's what I've tried to figure out. Here's the criteria I'm going to use when determining who gets the nod at each spot:
1: How many years in the decade was this player with the Cardinals?
2: How good were their stats in the years they were with the Cardinals this decade?
3: Do they have any special moments or a reason for people to remember them as Cardinals from the past decade?
Essentially, time spent on the team is definitely a factor. But if a player had, say, two great seasons with the Cardinals during the decade and another player was on the team for longer but never had as impressive of stats, the first player might end up getting the nod.
Some of these were pretty easy. Others... not so much. Do you agree? What would your "All-Decade" team for the Cardinals in the 2010s look like?
Catcher: Yadier Molina
Surprise! Just kidding.
Yadier Molina appeared in 1314 games, racked up 1367 hits, 653 RBI, hit .287, was an eight time All-Star and seven time gold glove winner for the Cardinals in the decade.
The future hall of famer was the face of the franchise in the 2010s. Nobody else is even worth a mention.
It really was the decade of "Yadi".
Honorable mentions: N/A
First Baseman: Albert Pujols
This wasn't quite as much of a slam dunk as you might think.
Pujols was only a Cardinal for two years this decade. How weird does that sound?
He had 79 home runs, 217 RBI, a .305 average and an OPS of .959 in those two years combined. Good? Of course. But not quite up to the level of some of his previous seasons.
Between Pujols leaving for LA and the Cardinals acquiring Paul Goldschmidt, the team hasn't had a steady answer at first base, which made it easier to pick Pujols here.
He was also able to leave us with one last memory this decade in 2019...
That doesn't mean there aren't a few guys who were still able to make their mark at the position this decade.
It's easy to forget just how good Allen Craig was with the Cardinals.
He played 469 games for the redbirds from 2010-2014, appearing at first base in 217 of them. It's hard to put Allen Craig exclusively at one position, although I think we might be hearing from him later in this article.
Honorable mentions: Allen Craig, Lance Berkman, Matt Adams
Second Baseman: Kolten Wong
Sometimes it may seem like Wong is still that young prospect we've been hearing so much about. In reality, he's pretty far removed from those days. 2020 will be his eighth season in the majors. Time really does fly.
Wong has come quite a ways since his infamous introduction to Cardinal nation by being picked off to end a game in the 2013 World Series.
He's been the team's starter at second base since 2014, and while the consistency hasn't always been there, he's shown why his talent level is among some of the best second basemen in the league.
Wong hit .260/.332/.388 this decade. So, yeah that doesn't exactly jump off the page. He did however lead the team in stolen bases over the past ten seasons (83).
2019 was finally the all-around Wong we had been waiting to see.
Instilled with confidence from manager Mike Shildt, Wong was his team's most consistent offensive and defensive performer.
Wong led the 2019 Cardinals (with at least 100 games) in average, on-base percentage and stolen bases. He also only struck out 83 times in 478 at-bats. He and catcher Yadier Molina (who missed a chunk of time due to injury) were the only members of the starting lineup with fewer than 100 strikeouts.
2019 was also the culmination of years of honing his defense at second base. Wong took home his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2019, and has been among the most impressive analytical defenders in baseball for the past few seasons.
Honorable mentions: Daniel Descalso, Skip Schumaker, Jedd Gyorko
Third Baseman: Matt Carpenter
Man, this was hard.
On one hand, you have the guy with the longer tenure and better numbers in the decade, and on the other, you have the hometown kid who authored the greatest moment in the history of the franchise.
I sided with the overall numbers and longevity.
Matt Carpenter has been a Cardinal for nine years of the decade. The most of any player not named Yadier Molina or Adam Wainwright.
Since his debut in 2011, Carpenter has 148 home runs, 531 RBI, 1092 hits and 284 doubles (He actually led the league in doubles twice this decade). He was a three time all-star and finished in top ten of MVP voting twice.
I know a lot of Cardinals fans still have the sour taste of his abomination of a 2019 season in their mouths, but overall this guy was a well-above-average player for the last nine years.
While he hasn't been a third baseman for the entirety of the decade (with stints at first, second and the outfield), third base was his primary position.
Even though Matt Carpenter's longevity with the club and overall stats this decade make him the clear choice at third, I'm sure many fans would prefer David Freese here. I can't blame them.
David Freese's 2011 October ingrained him in Cardinals lore forever, but in reality the hometown kid only played 449 regular season games for St. Louis in the decade. He had 43 home runs and 230 RBI in those games with a respectable .285 average.
He was shipped off to Los Angeles before the 2014 season, and that was that.
The nostalgic pull is strong here, but I'm going to stick with Carpenter.
Honorable mentions: David Freese, Jedd Gyorko
Shortstop: Paul DeJong
DeJong has brought power to his position unlike any other shortstop in Cardinals history. He has 74 home runs in three seasons with the Cardinals. The other starting shortstops of the decade have 55. Combined. His 30 in 2019 are the most ever by a Cardinals shortstop.
DeJong was second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2017 and was a first time all-star in 2019 and has also proven to be one of the steadiest defensive shortstops in baseball since his arrival.
DeJong's competition at this position is not exactly stellar, either.
Jhonny Peralta was a decent addition to the mid-2010s Cardinals, and you could make the case he was the team's best player in 2014 and 2015.
Rafael Furcal was a fun addition to that 2011 and 2012 teams, but was at the tail end of his career.
Aledmys Diaz burst onto the scene in 2016 and looked like the team's shortstop of the future. He hit .300 that year with 17 home runs and an OPS of .879. He was also an all-star and finished fifth in Rookie of the Year voting. It wouldn't last, though, as Diaz was shipped off midway through the next season and DeJong took the reigns.
As for Pete Kozma... We'll always have the 2012 NLDS.
Honorable mentions: Jhonny Peralta, Rafael Furcal, Aledmys Diaz, Pete Kozma
Outfield: Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and Allen Craig
Obviously there were a lot of good candidates here. Lets go through the ones I selected, first.
Other than Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday is the face of the Cardinals in the 2010s.
After being traded to St. Louis halfway through 2009, Holliday was a Cardinal for seven full seasons in the decade.
He had the most RBI of any Cardinals player this decade and is second only to Matt Carpenter in home runs. He was a four-time all-star and finished in the top 15 in MVP voting three times.
He also gave us some great moments. Who could forget this final one?
Jon Jay had a sneaky good career with the Cardinals.
He had six years with the franchise in the 2010s, racking up 676 hits, 113 doubles, 43 stolen bases, a .287 average and .354 OBP.
He also got hit by 70 pitches as a Cardinal. Yes, 70. I swear it felt like Jay got plunked once every game.
Was he the most talented Cardinal to roam the outfield in the 2010s? Of course not. But his longevity gives him the edge here.
Allen Craig's time with the Cardinals deserves to be remembered.
Yes, he appeared at other positions, but Craig most made his mark as an outfielder in his five years as a Cardinal this decade.
Craig guy had three consecutive truly great seasons in St. Louis from 2011 to 2013. In just 200 at-bats in 2011, Craig had 40 RBI and helped lead the Cardinals to a World Series. The next two years, he drove in 189 runs and was an absolute machine with runners in scoring position.
Overall, Craig hit .291/.343/.460/.803 in St. Louis. His career completely fell off the rails starting in 2014, but without him, those Cardinals teams of the early decade aren't nearly as successful.
There were lots of interesting runners up here.
Probable future Hall of Famer Carlos Beltran was fantastic in two years in St. Louis, but he was nearing the end of his career and his stay was brief.
Lance Berkman will always have a special place in the hearts of Cardinals fans, but his stellar season of 2011 isn't quite enough.
Tommy Pham is probably the most talented player of this bunch, but never quite got a full shot to prove his worth in St. Louis.
Randal Grichuk is an interesting study as well. The power was obviously there in his four years in St. Louis, but the strikeouts proved too much and he was shipped down the road.
Honorable mentions: Carlos Beltran, Lance Berkman, Tommy Pham, Randal Grichuk, Colby Rasmus, Marcell Ozuna
Starting Rotation: Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, Chris Carpenter and Jack Flaherty
I think these were the names you were expecting to see here. There were a few interesting options that made me think, but these are the guys you think of when it comes to the Cardinals of the 2010s.
Adam Wainwright embodies Cardinals baseball. He's one of the most beloved figures in franchise history, and owned the mound for his team in the decade. Wainwright led the Cardinals in every conceivable pitching stat in the 2010s with 116 wins, 234 games, 1459 innings and 1265 strikeouts this decade.
He was also a three-time all-star, gold glove and silver slugger winner and finished in the top three of Cy Young voting three times this decade.
Man, Michael Wacha had a weird career in St. Louis.
He burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2013, stealing the postseason spotlight with a dominant NLDS and NLCS and winning NLCS MVP. He ranged from dominant to mediocre in the six years after that, though and never reached the potential we all thought he might.
Wacha had a 3.91 ERA for the Cardinals this decade with a .602 winning percentage and 759 strikeouts in 867 innings. His two near-no-hitters in the decade were also some great moments on his resume.
Lance Lynn was pretty underappreciated in his time in St. Louis.
He was first used as Tony La Russa's secret weapon out of the bullpen in 2011, but turned himself into a really consistent starter.
Lynn went 72-47 for the Cardinals in the decade to the tune of a 3.38 ERA and was an all-star in 2012. A solid pitcher who you knew you could count on.
Chris Carpenter is one of the greatest pitchers in Cardinals history, but he was at the tail end of his career in the 2010s.
His two full seasons in the decade were impressive, though, and overall Carpenter held a very good 3.35 ERA in his three seasons. He also led the league in games started in 2010 and 2011 at 35 and 36 years old. That's super impressive.
We know Carp best this decade though for his postseason exploits. His NLDS duel with friend Roy Halladay remains the best moment from his career, and he was also sensational in the World Series that year.
Jack Flaherty might end up having the best career of anyone mentioned here.
He certainly has the most talent. Flaherty's ridiculous back half of 2019 put him among the conversation as one of the best pitchers in the game.
In his parts of three seasons in the decade for the Cardinals, Flaherty has a 3.20 ERA and 433 strikeouts in 368.2 innings.
Obviously there are guys with more action this decade, but Flaherty's talent and end to 2019 give him the edge.
There were some guys that made me think on this rotation though.
If not for injuries, Jaime Garcia would've gotten a lot more love in St. Louis.
The guy had some filthy stuff, and when he was out there, he was usually very good. Garcia went 61-44 for the Cardinals in his seven years with the Cardinals in the decade with a 3.53 ERA and 715 strikeouts in 880 innings.
Carlos Martinez has appeared in seven different seasons this decade. How weird does that sound? His numbers are really, really good, and I think we might be seeing him later in this list.
Kyle Lohse seems to often be forgotten about, but he had a fantastic Cardinals career. He was with the club for two years before the decade started, but in the 2010s Lohse had a 3.76 ERA in 81 starts. Not too shabby. His 2012 was also superb. A 16-3 record with a 2.86 ERA and the most games started in baseball.
Shelby Miller was always supposed to be on this list, but never quite rose to the level everyone thought he would and was shipped to Atlanta.
John Lackey gave the Cardinals tremendous value in his two years here.
Honorable mentions: Carlos Martinez, Kyle Lohse, John Lackey, Jake Westbrook, Shelby Miller and Jaime Garcia
Bullpen: Carlos Martinez, Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist, Jason Motte, Tyler Lyons and Trevor Rosenthal
I didn't have a set number here, so I just went with a few I thought were deserving.
Picking Martinez is kind of a cop-out, but the guy deserves it. He has a 3.36 ERA as a Cardinal and experience in every situation you can think of.
Seth Maness and Kevin Siegrist were legitimate weapons for the Cardinals in the mid 2010s.
Siegrist was one of the nastiest pitchers I'd ever seen, and had a 3.03 ERA and 279 strikeouts in 240.2 innings as a Cardinal. That ball coming so hard from that left-handed throwing angle he used was absolutely devastating.
Seth Maness was maybe the best double play specialist the Cardinals have ever had. It was like an art for him.
Jason Motte was a fun guy to have around the club house, and an effective piece on those early 2010 Cardinal teams. Motte had a 2.69 ERA for the Cardinals in the decade with 53 saves.
Tyler Lyons had one of the filthiest breaking pitches I've ever seen. His numbers aren't eye-popping with the Cards (4.09 ERA), but he filled many roles in St. Louis, and was a key part during his six years here.
Trevor Rosenthal was really good.
He declined on his way out of town, but for a while the Cardinals had a dominant closer.
Rosenthal had a 2.99 in six years in St. Louis and was 121 for 141 in save opportunities.
Honorable mentions: Matt Bowman, Seung-hwan Oh, Jordan Hicks, Edward Mujica, Kyle McClellan