Cardinals news from a Sabermetric point of view

Berkman misses chance to join other great Cardinal retirees

When Lance Berkman signed over the weekend with the Rangers, he bypassed a chance to retire as a Cardinal. Too bad, too: He could’ve joined a storied list of players who last left the field in a Cardinal uniform.

The Rangers may have been able to buy Big Puma out of retirement (his words), but several other stars have bowed out of the game — some a year or two too late, perhaps — as Cardinals. Notable players best known for their achievements in other uniforms but who retired with the birds on the bat:

Player Final season Best known for HoF Career bWAR Notes
John Smoltz 2009 Braves no 62.6 Pitched final seven games of his career in St. Louis, then one game in the NLDS.
Larry Walker 2005 Rockies no 69.7 Played final year and a half as Cardinal, during which time he helped team to playoffs with .387 OBP, .520 SLG.
Chuck Finley 2002 Angels no 54.3 Acquired via midseason trade (involving Coco Crisp) and finished by starting two playoff games in 2002.
Will Clark 2000 Giants no 53.2 Played final 51 games as a Cardinal, with a .426 OBP and .655 SLG.
Fernando Valenzuela 1997 Dodgers no 34.2 Part of six-player trade but lasted only a month before Cardinals released him.
Rick Sutcliffe 1994 Cubs no 28.2 Was fifth starter on one of the club’s worst all-time rotations.
Pedro Guerrero 1992 Dodgers no 31.7 Played final four and a half years as Cardinal, though he wasn’t the same player he had been in LA.
Doug DeCinces 1987 Angels no 38.6 Signed with Cardinals in September after Angels released him and played four games.
Jim Kaat 1983 Twins no 40.4 Pitched 75 innings as a 43-year-old for 1982 club.
Roger Maris 1968 Yankees no 36.2 Had a .433 OBP and .538 SLG in 30 plate appearances during the 1967 World Series.
Sal Maglie 1958 Giants no 32.4 Was second-oldest player in baseball when he retired.
Eddie Stanky 1953 Dodgers no 37.9 Played final two years for St. Louis.
Fred Toney 1923 Reds no 26.2 Cardinals picked him up off waivers from Braves, for whom he never pitched.
Bobby Wallace 1918 Browns yes 51.6 Played 15 years for Browns before returning to Cardinals for final two seasons of his career, age 43 and 44.
Vic Willis 1910 Beaneaters yes 62.7 Threw 212 innings in his final year, retired at 34.

And some players who achieved stardom as Cardinals left for some time but had the good sense (or providence) to return and retire in St. Louis:

Player Final season HoF Career bWAR Notes
Ray Lankford 2004 no 35.7 Cardinals traded him to Padres, where he played a year and a half, then missed a year before returning for final season.
Willie McGee 1999 no 30.9 Returned for final four seasons after five and a half-year absence.
John Tudor 1990 no 32.2 Traded away in August 1988 (for Pedro Guerrero) then signed as a free agent for 1990 season.
Bill White 1969 no 35.3 Played middle of his career as Cardinal, then for Phillies before returning for 49 games in 1969.
Red Schoendienst 1963 yes 39.0 Played for Milwaukee and Giants for four and a half years before returning to St. Louis for final three years.
Joe Medwick 1948 yes 52.4 Began as Cardinal, playing eight and a half seasons, then played on the east coast for six and a half; returned to St. Louis for final two seasons.
Bill Sherdel 1932 no 26.1 Played for Cardinals 13 years, was traded to Boston, where he played for two and a half before signing with Cardinals after Braves released him.
Bill Doak 1929 no 27.8 Played for Cardinals 12 years before being traded to Brooklyn in 1924; returned for three games in 1929.

Thirty-five-year-old Carlos Beltran (55.4 bWAR) may have an opportunity to retire as a Cardinal after finding late-career refuge in St. Louis. Will he follow in the footsteps of Berkman (49.0 bWAR) and others, like Dennis Eckersley and Eric Davis, or in those of Roger Maris and Larry Walker?

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