This series was originally published at the Redbird Daily, but is now proud to call Cards Conclave home. This installment was written by Austin Lamb.
4. Rogers Hornsby – 2B (1915-1926,1933; MVP, 7x Batting Title, 2x Triple Crown, HOF)
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The countdown rolls on as we get to the fourth greatest Cardinal in history Rogers Hornsby. If you need a recap of the previous entries in the countdown it can be found here.
Hornsby played 13 of his 23 big league seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, and is remembered today as one of the greatest hitters in history. He was a player and manager of the Cardinals 1926 World Series Championship team, is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the Cardinals Hall of Fame. Hornsby has the distinction of being the only Cardinal in history to have his number “retired” without actually having worn a number at all. The Cardinals STL insignia from his playing days adorns the left field wall in place of a number.
Wins Above Replacement
A two-time National League MVP, Hornsby received one of those awards while donning the birds on the bat. Over the course of his tenure with the Cardinals, he was one of the greatest players in the game. He led the league in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) five times as a member of the Cardinals and ranks twelfth all-time in career WAR at 127.0. A shortstop for the early part of his career. Horsnby shifted to the second base for the majority his time in St. Louis. His offense however, is what put him in the Hall of Fame and at the number four ranking in our countdown.
Rogers Horsnby was simply one of, if not the best hitter in the National League for the majority of his career. He placed in the top 10 of offensive WAR 15 times and ranked first 12 times. His 121.6 career offensive WAR ranks tenth in history. He finished in the top 10 for batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage at least 13 times each during his career.
His career slash line of .358/.434/.577 is truly astounding. Three times he hit over .400 in season and eight times he had an on-base plus slugging (OPS) greater than 1.000. He led the National league in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, walks, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+ and total bases all multiple times during his Cardinals career. Of all the great seasons he had in St. Louis, his greatest was arguably 1925 when he won the NL MVP Award.
In 1925 Hornsby hit .403/.489/.756 en route to winning his second career Triple Crown. He hit 39 home runs and drove in 143 runs to lead the league in each of those categories. He recorded 203 hits, scored 133 runs, 41 doubles and 10 triples. In addition to all of that production, he struck out just 39 times in 504 at-bats. His greatest offensive season also came while he was handling the duties of managing the team.
Post Cardinals Career
Following the 1926 season Hornsby was traded to the New York Giants after a contract agreement could not be reached between he and the Cardinals. He played for the Giants, Braves, and Cubs before spending a brief part of the 1933 season back with the Cardinals. Hornsby then spent the rest of 1933 through 1937 with the St. Louis Browns to finish his major league career.
After his major league career ended Hornsby was forced to play and coach for various minor league teams and organizations due to gambling debts. He also opened up the “Rogers Hornsby Baseball College” in Hot Springs, AR. The event, similar to a prospect showcase in today’s game would feature other prominent major leaguers as instructors including Cy Young. Hornsby was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1942, his fifth year on the ballot.
Thank you for reading! Stay tuned as Allen brings you the #3 player on our countdown tomorrow.