The St. Louis Cardinals’ 50 greatest players

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#16 Mark McGwire

McGwire was traded to the Cardinals during the 1997 season and the rest was history. He totaled 24 of his 220 homers that first half season with the Cardinals, and then proceeded on a mission to break the single season home run record in 1998.

As you know, McGwire did break and set the record in 1998, as he finished the season with a .299/.470/.752 slash and wRC+ of 205 to go along with his record setting 70 home runs that year. Most importantly, what McGwire did that year is bring baseball back to relevancy. He got us excited about the game we love again by bashing home run after home run and posting historic numbers.

While McGwire may have been a bit of a one trick pony for the Cardinals, one cannot ignore his 8.5 fWAR in that 1998 season as well as his total fWAR of 21.9 in just 5454 games. Yes, we all found out later that McGwire was doping, but what McGwire did for the game of baseball and for Cardinals’ fans during a tough decade, was remarkable.

Among those with at least 1000 plate appearances McGwire ranks second in wRC+ with 173. A number that could have been a lot different had he not struggled with injuries his last two seasons as a Cardinal.

I was and still am a big fan of the slugger and remember watching his at bats during that 1998 season with anticipation to see if he could ultimately break that record. I can tell you to this day where I was and what I was doing during that game, and how I remember Jack Buck’s call that day, making the Big Mac easily one of the greatest Cardinals’ of all time.

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