End of 2014 Special: This Year’s 14 Best Cardinals

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In 2014, the St. Louis Cardinals finished 90-72 to earn their fourth consecutive playoff birth. But without some key contributions from many players, the season could have ended a whole lot differently.

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With a new year storming ahead, it’s important to look back at the contributions that lifted the St. Louis Cardinals atop the National League Central for the second year under Mike Matheny‘s direction.

In ascending order, here were the Cardinals’ 14 best players of 2014 based on their Wins Above Replacement for their specific position. Statistics and best season moments, with links attached, are included for all qualifiers.

14. Trevor Rosenthal* (0.9 WAR)

Stats: 2-6, 3.20 ERA, 87 K, 45 SV

Best moment: Becoming fifth Cardinal with 40 saves in a single season after closing out  August 31 vs. Chicago Cubs.

*Would also like to give credit to pitcher Seth Maness, who tied Rosenthal’s WAR value for 14th best on this year’s team.

13. Peter Bourjos (1.4 WAR)

Stats: .231 AVG, 4 HR, 24 RBI, 9 SB

Best moment: Pinch-hit home run on August 10 that helped Cardinals avoid sweep against the Baltimore Orioles.

12. Michael Wacha (1.4 WAR)

Stats: 5-6, 3.20 ERA, 94 K, 1.20 WHIP

Best moment: Throwing six shutout innings in a rainy win against the San Francisco Giants on May 31.

11. Shelby Miller (1.6 WAR)

Stats: 10-9, 3.74 ERA, 127 K, 1.27 WHIP

Best moment: Tossing 5.2 innings of 2-run ball in the final NLDS win against the Los Angeles Dodgers on October 7.

10. Kolten Wong (2.2 WAR)

Stats: .249 AVG, 12 HR, 42 RBI, 20 SB

Best moment: Walk-off home run in Game 2 of the NLCS against the San Francisco Giants on October 12.

9. Pat Neshek (2.3 WAR)

Stats: 7-2, 1.87 ERA, 68 K, 25 HLD

Best moment: Working out of an eighth inning jam in a crucial playoff preview with the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 18.

8. Matt Adams (2.3 WAR)

Stats: .288 AVG, 15 HR, 68 RBI, 5 3B

Best moment: Go-ahead home run against Clayton Kershaw to put Cardinals ahead 3-2 in NLDS Game 4 against Los Angeles Dodgers.

7. Yadier Molina (2.4 WAR)

Stats: .282 AVG, 7 HR, 38 RBI, 21 2B

Best moment: Game-winning home run in 1-0 victory on Opening Day in Cincinatti.

6. Jon Jay (2.8 WAR)

Stats: .303 AVG, 3 HR, 46 RBI, 6 SB

Best moment: Collecting two hits and three RBIs in September 22 blowout of the Chicago Cubs.

5. Matt Carpenter (3.0 WAR)

Stats: .272 AVG, 8 HR, 59 RBI, 99 runs

Best moment: Posting the Cardinals first 5-hit game since 2009 in 5-2 interleague win against Kansas City Royals on June 4.

4. Matt Holliday (3.4 WAR)

Stats: .272 AVG, 20 HR, 90 RBI, 83 runs

Best moment: Three-hit effort and go-ahead home run in 7-6 comeback win against division rival Milwaukee Brewers on July 11.

3. Lance Lynn (3.7 WAR)

Stats: 15-10, 2.74 ERA, 181 K, 1.26 WHIP

Best moment: First career shutout in home matchup with New York Yankees on May 27.

2. Jhonny Peralta (5.8 WAR)

Stats: .263 AVG, 21 HR, 75 RBI, 38 2B

Best moment: Walk-off hit in 6-5 comeback win against Cincinnati Reds on August 18.

1. Adam Wainwright (6.1 WAR)

Stats: 20-9, 2.38 ERA, 179 K, 3 SHO

Best moment: First one-hitter in 5-0 victory against Arizona Diamondbacks on May 20.

Also worth mentioning that eight other Cardinals that finished the 2014 season on the Cardinals 40-man roster posted a WAR above 0. Seventeen Cardinals compiled a negative WAR value for the year. But remember WAR is just an indicator of how good a player performed during a given time in the past and is not necessarily reflective of each player’s future. So long 2014.

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