This series was originally published at the Redbird Daily, but is now proud to call Cards Conclave home. This installment was written by Kyle Reis of Birds on the Black.
The rankings roll on as we bring out another great St. Louis Cardinals’ player.
#13 – Jim Edmonds, CF
(Traded For Kent Bottenfield and Adam Kennedy. 2000-07, 6x Gold Glove, 2x All-Star, Silver Slugger)
First off, the guy wore half-shirts. Sure, it might freak you out (and, yeah, maybe it should), but I love it. Just take a look at this guy. Tell me he isn’t better than all-but 12 players in Cardinals history!
MORE THAN JUST ONE HALF OF A SHIRT
The true beauty of Jim Edmonds’ career as a St. Louis Cardinal is that I could tell the tale of his greatness in video and gif format without ever having to spell out one word. “Jimmy Ballgame” was THE human highlight reel. A member of the famed “MV3” from the 2004 season that included Scott Rolen and Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds was the most charismatic and flamboyant showman to ever walk onto the field of any stadium bequeathed the title of “Busch”.
When the Cardinals traded for Edmonds in the offseason between the 1999 and 2000 season for Adam Kennedy and Kent Bottenfield he was coming off of a 1999 season that was plagued with an injury that caused him to miss the months of May through August. He was marred in rumors of being a clubhouse cancer and it was even rumored that he had problems with Angels management. Bottenfield was coming off of an All-Star season and Adam Kennedy was as close to a top of the line prospect that the Cardinals possessed. Edmonds had already made a dent in the minds of baseball fans everywhere with his highlight reel catches, including what I believe to be the best catch in the outfield of all time:
But he was coming off of two knee procedures prior to the 1998 season, the injury shortened 1999 season, and there was speculation that he might not ever be able to recover his standing as a productive major leaguer. It was a bit of a risk for the Cardinals to take on at the time, but it’s awfully laughable to think that it was a risk in retrospect.
The rest, as it were, is history. Over his eight season as a St. Louis Cardinal, Edmonds slashed 285/393/555/947 with 241 HR, 234 doubles, 713 RBI, with 2012 total bases and an OPS+ of 143. During those eight seasons he finished in the top 5 in MVP voting twice, top 25 in MVP voting 5 times, he won six gold gloves, one silver slugger, and he was a three time All-Star. He did all of this while making spectacular catch after spectacular catch in center field. There was this catch in the 2004 NLCS during game 7 that is ABSOLUTELY responsible for pushing the Cardinals into the 2004 World Series:
But you have to take a step back to even get to that point. During game 6, Edmonds hit a walk off HR in the 12th inning that gave the Cardinals the opportunity to play in that game 7.
As a matter of fact, that little two handed fist pump that Edmonds does immediately after making contact with the ball is one of my favorite images of all time from a Cardinals player.
Those two amazing, once in a life time (unless you’re a Cardinals fan) plays aside, Edmonds was pretty damn good in the playoffs. Edmonds’ played in 61 playoff games during his 8 seasons wearing The Birds On The Bat and he slashed 277/368/523/890 with 13 HR, 15 doubles, and 41 RBI in 220 AB. The Cardinals had many a-loaded roster over the course of Edmonds’ tenure as Cardinal, but there’s no way that the Cardinals make it to two World Series and win one without him.
I have plenty more to say about Edmonds greatness, but it’d be inappropriate to do that when I can just show you. You really should watch, too, because it’s as good as you’ll ever see from a center fielder.
Edmonds was constantly victimizing the Reds:
He’d make catches likes routinely on the biggest stages(nothing is more “Jim Edmonds” by the way, then Edmonds mouthing “Wow” after making this catch):
Of course he’d do things like this:
His career was great play and big hit after great play and big hit. The biggest tribute to the greatness of Jim Edmonds as an outfielder is that you’ll find more videos of people making what they describe as “Jim Edmonds” plays than you will of Jim Edmonds actually making plays! In the world of professional sports, that is the truest form or greatness: when you become a style that everyone wants to mimic.
Whether it was while making a great catch, a great throw (I didn’t even bring up his arm but it was really great and the most underrated part of his game), hitting a big homerun, dramatically spinning out of the way of an inside pitch (that easily could have been a strike sometimes), or celebrating one of the biggest homeruns in Cardinals history, Jim Edmonds was a true showman and Cardinals icon.
Thanks for reading!