5 St. Louis Cardinals shortstops living in Ozzie Smith’s shadow
Four others living in Ozzie’s shadow
After Edgar Renteria, David Eckstein came to St. Louis and established himself as the Cardinals shortstop and primary lead off hitter from 2005-2007. Ekstein’s accomplishments were two All Star appearances and the 2006 World Series MVP. In his 398 games as the Cardinal shortstop, he hit a slash line of .297/.357/.375.
Another of the post Ozzie shortstops who should be mentioned is Jhonny Peralta. The right-handed Peralta played four seasons in St. Louis from 2014-2017, the last two were marred by injuries. However, for his first two seasons, Dominican Republic native was a workhorse the position playing 157 and 155 games, respectfully. During those first two productive years, he had an average slash line of .269/.335/.427 and an OPS+ of 110.
We shouldn’t forget Rafael Furcal. Although he only played a season and a half in St. Louis, his impact was felt in 2011 after he came over from a trade with the Dodgers. The Cardinals had been struggling with their shortstop position all season, but in just 50 games, Furcal hit a slash line of .255/.316/.418 and a OPS+ of 102. Also, his clubhouse presence was immeasurable for the Cardinals in their 2011 World Series. run.
I feel like I should mention current and much maligned Cardinal shortstop, Paul DeJong. If anyone started their career like they might come out from under the shadow of Ozzie, it was DeJong. His rookie year in 2017, the Illinois State alum’s right handed bat hit a slash line of .285/.325/.532 with 25 HR, 65 RBI, and a OPS+of 121 in 108 games. DeJong also finished in Rookie of the Year voting, behind Cody Bellinger. However, as most Cardinal fans know, DeJong’s bat has failed him the last two years.
I am not saying Edgar Renteria, David Eckstein, Jhonny Peralta, and Rafael Furcal were in the same league as Ozzie Smith. Not at all.
The case I am trying to make, because of the legendary career of Ozzie, his shadow looms large among Cardinal Nation. Consequently, the Cardinals shortstop position lives under it.
I hope to see some of these other former shortstops come out from under the shadow and get recognition they deserve. Although voting for the 2022 class for the Cardinals Hall of Fame has been closed, a good start would be Edgar Renteria someday being able to wear that red jacket.