This series was originally published at the Redbird Daily, but is now proud to call Cards Conclave home. This installment was written by Allen Medlock.
If you haven’t, check out the Introductory Article to gain understanding of how these rankings were built. That article can be found by clicking here.
Lets keep the countdown rolling with number 85 through 81. This set of five contains a stoic lefty, an eccentric right-hander, and a target for thrown batteries in Philadelphia.
85. Joe Magrane SP (1987-1992, ERA Title)
Joe Magrane was a highly touted lefty that was drafted in the first round of the 1985 draft. Finishing third in the 1987 National League Rookie of the Year award, Magrane became the youngest starter to take the ball for a World Series Game Seven at the age of 22. He was named the Opening Day starter for three of his five seasons in St. Louis and was the National League ERA champion in 1988. That was followed by 18-9 record in 1989, good for a fourth place finish in the N.L Cy Young award voting. Injuries limited Magrane to just five starts in 1992 which turned out to be his final year in St. Louis.
84. Joaquin Andujar SP (1981-1985, 2x All-Star, Gold Glove)
Andujar was loud and outspoken on the mound and off. The four-time All-Star was acquired by the Cardinals via trade with Houston during the 1981 season. Going 3-0 during the 1982 postseason, Andujar topped it off by going seven strong innings to win Game Seven of the World Series. After a sub-par 1983, Andujar rebounded by winning 20 games in 1984 with four shutouts while taking home the National League Gold Glove.
Winning 21 regular season games during the 1985 season, Andujar struggled during the playoffs while starting one NLCS game and one World Series game. His early ejection in the deciding game of the World Series came during a relief appearance in which has been seen as a classic meltdown. Mario Soto, the head of the Dominican National team, once told media members that “no one wanted to have problems with Andujar.” He carried the nickname “one tough Dominican.”
83. J.D. Drew OF (1998-2003)
Two-time first round draft choice JD Drew made his way to the Cardinal organization in odd fashion. Drew and his agent Scott Boras set the asking price at $10 million to sign the second overall draft pick. Philadelphia was unable to come to an agreement with Drew, who eventually played independent ball to retain his amateur status and re-enter the 1998 draft. With the fifth pick in the first round, the Cardinals selected Drew and subsequently signed him for a hefty $7.5 million.
A productive player but no superstar, Drew carried the weight of the large contract. Tony LaRussa told Buzz Bissenger for his book Three Nights in August that J.D. was complacent, using only 75% of his ability. Drew was a villain in Philadelphia, once telling the story of having batteries hurled at him during batting practice.
82. Ray Blades OF (1922-1932)
Signed out of a tryout camp by then manager Branch Rickey, Blades spent ten years in St. Louis as a player for the Cardinals. A fiery competitor, Blades was notorious for running through fences and into walls while patrolling the outfield. Injuries took their toll on him. After a major knee injury forced him to retire as a player, Blades moved into the coaching ranks and eventually became manager, working once again for now general manger Branch Rickey.
Still as competitive as a player, Blades was one of the first to utilize a bullpen. Starting pitchers in the 20’s were expected to start and finish games, but not under Blades’s watch. The ballclub was at the top of the lists for pitching appearances while Blades was in charge. “Always play to win today. You can figure out tomorrow, tomorrow.” was a common phrase heard from Blades.
After a rough start to the season in 1932, ownership decided to part ways with Blades without the blessing of Rickey. This would ultimately be the move that led Rickey to take a role with the Dodgers.
81. Bob Forsch SP (1974-1988, 2 No-Hitters, 2x Silver Slugger)
A 20 game winner and the only Cardinal with multiple no-hit games, Bob Forsch wasn’t expected to be in the Cardinals pitching plans. Drafted as a third baseman, Forsch was unable to grab traction as a hitter and converted to the pitching mound where he became a stable force for 15 years as a Cardinal. A great athlete throughout his career, Forsch twice won the Silver Slugger Awards for the league’s best hitting pitcher.
When you talk about competitiveness, Forsch was in the same conversation as Bob Gibson and Chris Carpenter. In the 1987 National League Championship Series, Forsch famously hit Jeffrey Leonard in the back with a fast ball. Leonard had hit a homerun in each of the first four games and showboated after each one, to the ire of the Cardinals and the fan base.
Hope you enjoy the look back at some familiar Cardinal names. Stay with us as we countdown to the Top Cardinals Players.