St. Louis Cardinals’ Top 20 Hitters
#5 – 1B Mark McGwire
In order to get Mark McGwire onto this list, I had to fudge the rules a little bit, but there’s a really good reason. McGwire was only with the St. Louis Cardinals for four and a half seasons, rather than the five everyone else has. In those four and a half seasons, he mashed 220 home runs, which ranks him 6th among Cardinal players.
Really, that’s what makes Mark McGwire’s career exceptional: an unparalleled ability to crush the ball. His .263 batting average is a little lack luster, but his .325 career ISO (slugging percentage minus batting average — or slugging percentage without the singles) is second best all time, behind only Babe Ruth. In his years with the Cardinals, that number is even higher at an unbelievable .413.
To put that in perspective, the second best Cardinal ever is Albert Pujols with a .288 ISO. Fangraphs’ cheat sheet tells us that any ISO above .250 is “excellent”. I don’t know what .163 points above “excellent” is, but it has to be good. McGwire’s best season obviously came in 1998, during the famous home run race with Sammy Sosa. That year, McGwire slugged a slash line of .299/.470/.752, with 91 extra base-hits (70 homers, 21 doubles), with a wRC+ of 205.
In short, Mark McGwire only played in St. Louis for four and a half seasons, but he absolutely tore the cover off of the ball while he was here.
Next: The first best first-basemen