This series was originally published at the Redbird Daily, but is now proud to call Cards Conclave home. This installment was written by Colin Garner.
The Redbird Daily’s list of the 100 Greatest St. Louis Cardinals rolls on today, with number 90-86.
90. Vinegar Bend Mizell – SP (1952-53, 1956-1960, RCG Score: 60, Extra Credit: 0.25, Total: 60.25)
Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell was born in Leakesville, Mississippi in 1930. Due to some sort of confusion, people mistakenly thought he was born in Vinegar Bend, Mississippi, and the nickname stuck. In 1948 at the age of 17, he attended a Cardinals tryout in Biloxi, and struck out the side in his only inning of work, and was signed by the club.
He debuted four years later at the age of 21 and started 30 games for the club. He threw 190 innings and seven complete games for the ’52 Redbirds, and notched a respectable 3.65 ERA despite leading the league in walks. After an eerily similar 13-11 season with a 3.49 ERA in 224 1/3 innings in his sophomore season, Mizell didn’t play in 1954 or 1955 due to military service.
He came back in 1956 and didn’t’ skip a beat, starting 29 or more games in three of the next four years. He was named an All-Star in 1959 despite finishing with the highest ERA of his Cardinals career. In 1960, he was traded to the eventual World Champion Pirates for Ed Bauta and Julian Javier.
89. Edgar Renteria – SS (1999-2004, RCG Score: 57, Extra Credit: 3.5, Total: 60.5)
In his six-year Cardinal career, Renteria hit .290/.347/.420 with 71 homers and 451 RBI and was an above average defender throughout.
The numbers, however, don’t do him justice. Here’s what Buzz Bissinger and Tony LaRussa wrote about him in Three Nights in August before Game 2 against the Cubs:
LaRussa needs Renteria tonight because he is a superb hitter, and he needs him because of his golden glove, his footwork as light and fluid as a bellet dancer’s able to reach deep into the canyon crevice between second and third.
There’s also Renteria’s attitude, the combination of competition and puckish joy that spills onto other players. Team chemistry is its own odyssey, and different players contribute different catalysts.
Renteria is the joie de vivre, developing handshakes for each player on the team, customized to his own idiosyncrasies, ending hitters-meetings with his Latin hip-hop chirp of Let’s go play, dawg!! He is the favorite of fellow teammates, but his sense of the game makes him more than just anothe clubhouse cutup. He doesn’t wilt when the heat is on.
Does that sound like someone you want playing shortstop for you? I think so.
88. Terry Moore – OF (1935-1942, 1946-1948, RCG Score: 59, Extra Credit: 2, Total: 61)
Four-time All-Star and two-time World Series Champ Terry Moore was the 2014 Matt Carpenter of the late 30’s and early 40’s. He rarely struck out (which wasn’t so unusual in those days, I suppose), walked plenty, and regularly found his way on base. His peak came from 1938-1942, in which he posted wRC+’s of 111, 121, 121, 113, and 120. Unfortunately, he couldn’t regain his form after three years of service during WWII but contributed 19.3 WAR in his career, all with the Cardinals.
He debuted in 1935 with Joe Medwick, Ripper Collins, Pepper Martin, Frankie Frisch, and Dizzy Dean. When he retired, his teammates included Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, Red Schoendienst, and Marty Marion. Moore bridged the gap between two iconic eras of Cardinals baseball.
87. Bill Doak – SP (1913-1924, 1929, RCG Score: 60, Extra Credit: 1.5, Total: 61.5)
“Spittin’ Bill” Doak isn’t probably someone you’ve heard of, but he’s second in career shutouts for the Cardinals behind the great Bob Gibson. Born in Pittsburgh in 1891, Sporting News called Doak the “only strictly moral man on the Cardinals”.
Miller Huggins taught Doak the spitball, and his career took off. He led the National League in ERA in 1914 and in 1921 with 1.72 and 2.59 ERA’s respectively. He finished 13th in the MVP voting in 1914, a year in which he completed 256 innings and an astounding 16 complete games
Spittin’ Bill’s Cardinals prime came well before the team was a perennial contender, but players like him are the reason we decided to compile the 100 Greatest Cardinals.
86. Ryan Franklin – RP (2007-2011, RCG Score: 62, Extra Credit: 0.25, Total: 62.25)
Ryan Franklin‘s presence as the first relief pitcher on the 100 Greatest Cardinals list might surprise some folks. After all, how many of the franchise’s 11 world titles can be traced back to a top-100 member being released?
In 2009 and 2010 as the primary closer, Franklin converted 55 saves without the traditional closer’s repertoire. He was worth nearly 3 WAR in 2009 and 2010 and was the closer on the 2009 NL Central Championship club.
It all fell apart on 2011, and his slow start contributed much to the team’s slow start that season. At age 38, he had maxed out his baseball career. The 2011 title washed away the bitter taste of Franklin’s season, and his prime, specifically 2009 with 38 saves and a 1.92 ERA, should be remembered and appreciated.
Thanks for reading. Come back tomorrow for number 85-81.