The St. Louis Cardinals’ 50 greatest players

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#39 Joe Torre C/1B/3B

Torre was probably the Cardinals first great player who consistently played a variety of positions for the team, as in 1969 Torre saw time at catcher and first base, and then playing the majority of his games at catcher and third base in 1970. Torre didn’t play catcher for the Cardinals or any other team after that season, and split time at third and first for the rest of his career.

For younger fans it may be hard to think of Torre as a player, but before Torre became a hall of fame manager, he was a very good player and certainly one of the best to play for the Cardinals.

Torre’s numbers as a Cardinal are pretty impressive as he slashed .308/.382/.458 with a 132 wRC+ as a Cardinal. These numbers made Torre worth 25.4 fWAR throughout his six seasons as a Cardinal (1969-1974).

Only once in his career did Torre post an fWAR under 3.0 (2.6 in 1973), with his best season coming in 1971 (6.9 fWAR). In this season, Torre slashed .363/.421/.555 hitting 66 extra base-hits (34 doubles, 24 homers, eight triples), and a wRC+ of 173. Torre was named the NL MVP that year, as he led the league in average, hits, and RBI that year.

That season he posted a career high 57.2 runs above average on offense, coincidently he was also worth a career low -21.0 runs above average on defense that year playing all of his games at third and prompting the club to try him out at first again in 1973.

Torre posted an fWAR of 9.2 in his final three seasons with the Cardinals, before signing as a free agent with the Mets for the 1975 season, and finally retiring as a player after the 1977 season. The 1977 season also started Torre’s managerial career as he served as the Mets’ player manager that year and managed the Mets up until 1980.

After a stint as a manager of the Braves and a Broadcaster from 1982-1990, Torre became the manager of the Cardinals. Had Torre had the ownership group of the Dewitts behind him I firmly believe his stint with the Yankees never would have happened.

But, Torre was with the team during the final years of the Busch ownership that were dreadful years and he never got the shot he deserved because of the ownership holding him back and looking to sell instead of winning.

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