St. Louis Cardinals: Ranking the top Cardinal “killers” from the 21st century
3. Matt Holliday: 200 wRC+
Matt Holliday, in my book, should go down as one of the most underrated/underappreciated stars of all time for the St. Louis Cardinals. This man did everything he could to put the lineup on his back whenever Albert left for Anaheim.
Matt Holliday put up crazy numbers with the Birds on the Bat across his chest. A team now that is starving for a superstar (who puts up superstar numbers, sorry Mr. Goldschmidt) has not seen one since Matt Holliday and his crazy 2012 season. But we are not here to discuss his time with the Cardinals, lets discuss his time against the Cardinals.
Matt Holliday, while with the Rockies, was one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball and he seemed to have proved why every time his name was in the lineup versus St. Louis. For his career, he sported splits of .386/.462/.737 against the Cardinals. However, if you narrow these down to just his time before coming to the Cardinals, his splits turn into .418/.483/.848.
It’s just spectacular what he was capable of doing for Colorado. For all those out there that want to say these stats are inflated because he played his home games at Coors Field, here is a little something for you to chew on.
Matt Holliday had a wRC+ of 263 at Busch Stadium before coming to the Cardinals and had a wRC+ of 197 at home against the Cardinals. 197 is still amazing but that just shows how much better he was while playing in St. Louis. The man was a beast at the plate and somehow is even a better person than he was a baseball player. Matt was always known for giving back to the community and visiting hospitals.
St. Louis misses you Matt Holliday and there will never be another one like you.
2. Reggie Sanders: 209 wRC+ (2002-2003, 2006)
It seems crazy to me that of the top ten people to lead in wRC+ against the Cardinals, three of them are former Cardinals. Maybe the best scouting there is is to see them perform exceptionally well against you. It makes sense because they cannot hurt you if they are playing for you.
Reggie Sanders was on the tail end of his career when he joined the Pirates for the 2003 season. During this season, he rejuvenated himself as a threat in the batter’s box, having his best year since 1999 when he played for the Padres. One thing that stands out during his 2003 season is how amazing he was against the division rival St. Louis Cardinals.
During this season he posted splits of .341/.453/.955 with seven homers and 14 RBIs in 14 games. The Cardinals seemed to have liked what they saw from Sanders in the 2003 season as he was signed by the Cardinals in December of 2003.
He played for the Cardinals for two seasons (2004-2005), helping lead the Cardinals to a National League pennant in 2004 as well as helping them reach the postseason in 2005 where he set a record for most RBIs in the NLDS with 10 runs batted in. Reggie Sanders had a sweet swing that came with a sweet smile.
1. Jim Thome: 262 wRC+ (2003-2006)
Lastly, but most certainly not least, James Howard Thome. If you had happened to note the big jump from 209 wRC+ that Sanders had to the staggering 262 wRC+ that Thome has, there is a good reason. When talking about the epitome of “Cardinal killers”, almost certainly this man’s name is going to get brought up. Was he actually way better against St. Louis than we even realized? The answer is and always will be, YES!
The Peoria, Illinois native enjoyed an amazing career and is now enshrined in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame where he was deservingly elected in the 2018 class. Jim Thome, along with being above average against basically everybody, was just a god against St. Louis. From 2003-2006, Thome went 27-64 in 83 plate appearances with 10 homers, 22 RBIs, and 19 walks. Disclaimer: THESE ARE REAL MLB STATS, THESE ARE NOT STATS FROM A SLOW-PITCH SOFTBALL GAME.
During his 2003 season with the Philadelphia Phillies, he actually slugged 1.200 versus the Cardinals in 27 plate appearances. For those who do not quite understand what slugging percentage means, this means that Jim Thome actually averaged more than a single for every at-bat he had against the Cardinals.
Thome turned into a different human while facing the Cardinals and should probably thank the Cardinals pitchers more often for really beefing up that Hall of Fame resume and eventually helping him get pushed into Cooperstown.
There were likely some names on this list that you forgot about, and some that made you cringe to remember. Either way, certain players are always going to have a team’s number and as many teams did with Albert Pujols, sometimes the best answer is just to put up four fingers and focus on the next batter.