St. Louis Cardinals: Is there any debate for the face of the Cardinals?
By Matt Graves
With the St. Louis Cardinals’ acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt, they have a new best player, but does that make him the face of the franchise?
For the majority of my years growing up, when baseball fans thought of the St. Louis Cardinals, they thought of Albert Pujols. I was two years old when he debuted, and as a 12-year-old in 2011, it shook me to imagine him leaving, but then as it goes, you give things time and move on.
Over Pujols’ 11 years in St. Louis, he won the rookie of the year, went to nine All-Star games, finished top five in the MVP voting ten times while winning it three times and was the definition of the Cardinal way. That is a undoubted face of a franchise. Since Pujols left in 2011, the Cardinals’ four most recognizable players have been Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.
It is not too much of a debate to say though to say that Yadi has been this team’s face since Pujols left. In years past, MLB Network has had votes as to which player has been each team’s face of the franchise and Yadi has won every time, if that serves as more evidence. The question now turns to whether or not Cardinal newcomer Paul Goldschmidt changes that at all.
Most will agree that that’s not the case at all. A hotshot new guy can’t just come in and dethrone Yadi, even if Goldschmidt is the best player on the team. Yes, this poll was serious, but there was no secret about where I wanted it to go. The goal was to get overwhelming evidence beyond my own opinion about who the face of the franchise was and Cardinals Twitter didn’t disappoint.
The obvious verdict among Cardinals fans is that Yadi still easily owns the rights to the face of the Cardinals (at the time of writing, Yadi led 93% to 7% with some very pointed comments). As it should be. Yadi has been here the longest, earned all the rights to be in the position he is and is still beloved by all fans. He will go down as at least a Cardinals Hall of Fame member and hopefully a National Hall of Famer.
Over the last few years, Yadi has not necessarily been the best player on the team, but because he has arguably had the best career and is the most recognizable player on the team, he has still been known as the face of the franchise. This would imply that the face doesn’t have to be the best player, but there is more to the picture here.
However, USA Today argues here that Goldschmidt does slide into that role, which I guess could be understandable if you think the face of the franchise is always the best player.
As much as we all love Yadi, he just doesn’t put up anywhere near the offensive numbers that Goldschmidt does. Pujols put up the numbers and hit the big homers that went all over highlight reels. Yadi’s impact in leadership and game management, while just as significant, often can’t be seen on ESPN.
St. Louis Cardinals’ fans are renowned because they recognize this and are able to look past surface level statistics to see the greatness of Yadier Molina.
In my opinion, it all comes down to future longevity with the team.
More from St Louis Cardinals News
- Cardinals Rumors: 3 pros and cons of signing Carlos Rodon
- Cardinals: Here is Willson Contreras’ first message for St. Louis fans
- How do the St. Louis Cardinals stack up with Willson Contreras?
- Cardinals: The insane asking price the Athletics had for Sean Murphy
- St. Louis Cardinals: Ask me anything with Josh Jacobs – 12/8
Both players very well could stay longer, but Yadi is only signed through 2020, and Goldschmidt through 2019. Assuming Goldschmidt signs long term, does Yadi have to retire before Goldschmidt steps into the face of the franchise role?
If Goldschmidt stays, I don’t necessarily think Yadi has to be retired for him to become the face of the franchise. It will take a couple years, but by 2020 Goldschmidt will have lost most of his national association with the Diamondbacks and replaced it with the Cardinals.
By then Yadi will be just about done with his career and though he may sign for another year or so after 2020, Goldschmidt will have hopefully entrenched himself in the hearts of fans and in the lineup by then. I think there becomes a true debate in 2020 whether Yadi is still the face of the franchise if Goldschmidt is still here.
The short answer is a clear and resounding no, there’s no debate as to who the face of the franchise is. That being said, if you say there is no doubt about who it is right now, the next question becomes when Yadi would be dethroned by Goldschmidt or someone else. Just something to think about.
It is clear that as of the immediate future, Yadier Molina still owns the position as the face of the St. Louis Cardinals. If Goldschmidt stays in St. Louis long-term, he is the obvious pick for the next face, but when will the passing of the torch take place? Only time will tell.