St. Louis Cardinals: 7 Cardinals who were blessed by Devil Magic
If you like watching clutch hitting, 2013 was the year for you. The Cardinals broke the record for batting average with runners in scoring position by hitting .330 as a team. The leader of the pack was Allen Craig.
The Cardinals drafted Craig in the eighth round of the 2006 amateur draft, and he was called up to the Cardinals in 2010 as a bench bat. He didn’t set the world on fire in his first season, but as his role grew, he steadily improved in 2011 and 2012, showing himself to be a good regular and the potential heir at first base to the recently departed Albert Pujols.
Craig reached historic heights in 2013, hitting a ridiculous .454 with runners in scoring position after hitting .400 in that category in 2012. This streak had to end soon; it defied all of baseball’s norms. But Craig just kept hitting; Cardinals Devil Magic was as potent as ever. Unfortunately, on Sept. 4, as the season neared its conclusion, Craig suffered a Lisfranc fracture while rounding first base and trying to avoid the umpire. The injury ended his season.
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Craig was able to make it back for the World Series, where he was involved in a strange play with Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks: Middlebrooks accidentally tripped Craig, leading to an interference call, and the Cardinals were awarded a run. But that play preceded what would be a quick and painful decline for Craig.
Craig opted not to have surgery on his fracture so he would be able to play in the World Series, but when the 2014 season began, it was clear that Craig was not quite right. He was given many opportunities, but he only hit .237 in 367 at-bats. On July 31, the trade deadline, the Cardinals shipped Craig and pitcher Joe Kelly to the Boston Red Sox for pitchers John Lackey and Corey Littrell.
Craig’s descent only accelerated with the Red Sox, and he shuffled between Boston and Triple-A Pawtucket until 2017, when the San Diego Padres decided to take a flier on him. He actually performed fairly well in Triple-A with the team, hitting .293, but Craig decided to call it quits after the 2018 season.
The Lisfranc fracture likely permanently affected Craig’s baseball career, and had he opted for surgery, the outlook might have been vastly different. But in 2013, he was possibly the most exciting player in baseball to watch.