Three former members of the St. Louis Cardinals are on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time.
It was announced on Monday that former St. Louis Cardinals Chris Carpenter, Jason Isringhausen, and Scott Rolen will be on the Hall of Fame ballot. Those three men will join fellow notable first-timers in Chipper Jones and Jim Thome. Regardless if the are voted into the Hall of Fame or not, all three players will live forever in the hearts of Cardinal Nation.
Chris Carpenter (2004-2012): 95-44, 3.07 ERA, 1,085 K, 2005 NL Cy Young
After six seasons as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, Chris Carpenter was released and the St. Louis Cardinals picked him up in the 2002 offseason. The former 15th overall pick would not be able to pitch with his new club until 2004, and when he did he was one of the best in the game.
Injuries did prevent his numbers from being even better, but when healthy Carpenter was nothing short of an ace. During his first three seasons with the Birds on the Bat, Carp won 51 games and pitched 13 complete games with a 3.10 ERA and allowed 7.9 hits per nine.
That three-year stretch included a Cy Young in 2005, beating out Dontrelle Willis by 20 points. Carpenter came up short trying to win another one in 2006 (3rd behind Brandon Webb and Trevor Hoffman) and 2009 (2nd behind Tim Lincecum)
After nine seasons as a Cardinal, Carpenter retired as Cy Young winner, 3 time All-Star, and a 2 time World Series winner.
Jason Isringhausen (2002-2008): 217 SV, 2.98 ERA
Who knew that a 44th round selection by the New York Mets would go on to become one of the best relievers in St. Louis Cardinals history? In the 2001 offseason the Cardinals signed Izzy after spending three seasons as the closer in Oakland.
2004 saw Isringhausen save 47 games, a single-season record that would stand until Trevor Rosenthal broke it in 2015. Isringhausen did have a tendency to walk batter at fairly high rate and during his tenure with the Cardinals he walked 3.8 per nine.
Using his signature knuckle curve, Isringhausen became the Cardinals all-time saves leader in 2006 passing Lee Smith. After helping the Cardinals win the 2006 Fall Classic, Izzy would spend two more seasons with the team and then would begin his quest to 300 saves.
How fitting that Isringhausen got his 300th save with the team that drafted him. On August 15, 2011 Izzy saved his 300th and final game as a Met and would retire after one more season with the Los Angeles Angels.
Scott Rolen (2002-2007): .286/.370/.510, 111 HR, 453 RBI
On July 29, 2002 the St. Louis Cardinals traded Placido Polanco, Bud Smith, and Mike Timlin for Doug Nickle and the 1997 Rookie of the Year, Scott Rolen. Rolen would be a part of some great Cardinals teams and would be one of the best fielders at his position along with his hitting ability.
Like Carpenter, Rolen had his share of injuries and in 2005 he played in 56 games but was an All-Star. In fact, Rolen was an All-Star from 2003-2006 and also won 3 Gold Gloves during that time and placed fourth in the 2004 MVP race behind Barry Bonds, Adrian Beltre, and Albert Pujols.
That 2004 season was Rolen’s best in St. Louis, smashing 34 home runs and driving in 124 while hitting .314 with an OPS of 1.007 and a WAR of 9.2. One issue Rolen was criticized heavily for was his playoff performance, as he went hit-less in 15 at-bats in the 2004 World Series.
Two years later Rolen got his chance at redemption in the 2006 World Series. Putting the playoff no show talk to bed, Rolen hit .421 (8-19) with an OPS of 1.213 in a Cardinals triumph.
Unfortunately Rolen would last one more season and would be dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays straight up for Troy Glaus. After the 2012 season Rolen would retire after two more All-Star nominations and a Gold Glove.
Obviously the ultimate dream would be that all three of these guys get into Cooperstown. Realistically that will not happen, so if you had to choose one out of the three to make it in, who would it be?