What was the greatest infield in St. Louis Cardinals history? Did it include Ozzie Smith, Scott Rolen or Nolan Arenado?
In December, Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith announced on KMOX “a celebration at Ballpark Village” featuring the entire 1982 St. Louis Cardinals infield. The event will take place on Feb. 17 and will reunite Smith (SS), Keith Hernandez (1B), Tommy Herr (2B) and Ken Oberkfell (3B).
“I don’t think people talk about it as much as it should be talked about,” Smith said. “But that was probably – certainly, for me – one of the best infields every assembled.”
Many Cardinals fans would probably agree with Smith. And it would be hard to argue with, considering this infield had arguably the two best at their position in baseball history. Between Smith and Hernandez, there are a combined 24 Gold Gloves won during their careers, with both winning Gold Gloves in 1982.
Diving deeper into their accomplishments in 1982, Hernandez led the NL among first basemen in Putouts, Total Zone Runs and Range Factor. He was second in Double Plays Turned and third in Assists.
Smith’s accomplishments in 1982 were even more impressive. The Wizard led the NL among shortstops in Assists, Total Zone Runs, Range Factor,and Fielding percentage. He was second in Double Plays Turned and third in Putouts.
Additionally, Herr and Oberkfell were no slouches at their positions either. In 1982, Oberkfell led all NL third basemen in Field Percentage (.972) and Total Zone Runs (8). He was also second in Range Factor, third in Double Plays turned and third in assists at third base. In 1982, Herr was first in Total Zone Runs (14), second in Range Factor, third in Double Plays turned (97) and third in Fielding Percentage (.987) among NL second basemen.
Of course, we shouldn’t forget about catcher Darrell Porter. In 1982, Porter provided solid, if not spectacular defense. However, during games, he was essential in executing manager Whitey Herzog’s game plan while handling the pitching staff. He also won the NLCS and the World Series MVP in 1982.
Finally, to put some icing on this infield, Smith led the NL with a 3.5 Defensive WAR. Meanwhile, Herr came in seventh in the NL with a 2 Defensive WAR.
So, was the 1982 Cardinals infield one of the greatest of all time? That’s an unfair question, and would be hard to prove or disprove.
How about the greatest infield in St. Louis Cardinal history? Still hard to prove, but a little more manageable to look at.
Let’s take a look at two other impressive Cardinal infields and compare to 1982.