Bullpen Slot #7 – Lee Smith
At first glance, I wanted to leave Lee Smith off of this roster. However, his best years of his career came while wearing a Cardinals’ uniform. Smith spent parts of four seasons with the team and had an overall ERA of 2.90 while collecting 160 of his 478 saves which was tops in the league until Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera passed him up.
Smith was traded to the Cardinals in 199o for Tom Brunansky after just 11 games for the Red Sox, that year Smith had an ERA of 2.10 (2.21 FIP) and an ERA+ of 182 with the Cardinals, saving 27 games during their only last place finish since 1918. His ERA numbers were at their lowest since his 1983 season with the Cubs.
In his first full season as a Cardinal, Smith did not disappoint, as he had yet another great year. He finished with an ERA 2.34 (2.45 FIP), while saving a career high 47 games for the Cardinals in 1991 and totaling an ERA+ of 158. Smith’s ERA started to balloon from that season on as he finished with 3.12 ERA in 1992 and a 4.50 ERA in 1993, before being traded to the Yankees for Rich Batchelor, a minor league pitcher who made his Major League debut for the Cardinals in 1993 but never stuck with a big league team long enough to record a full season, last appearing in a July game for the Padres in 1997.
Smith’s 160 career saves for the Cardinals were a team record until the aforementioned Jason Isringhausen passed him in 2006.
Next: Bullpen Slot #8 - Bruce Sutter