St. Louis Cardinals: Is Lonnie Smith the forgotten hero of 1982?

CINCINNATI, OH - CIRCA 1982: Lonnie Smith #27 of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on during batting practice prior to the start of a Major League Baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds circa 1982 at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. Smith played for the Cardinals from 1982-85. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - CIRCA 1982: Lonnie Smith #27 of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on during batting practice prior to the start of a Major League Baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds circa 1982 at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. Smith played for the Cardinals from 1982-85. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /
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Lonnie Smith #27 of the St. Louis Cardinals during a MLB game against the Philadelphia Phillies on April 23, 1982 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images)
Lonnie Smith #27 of the St. Louis Cardinals during a MLB game against the Philadelphia Phillies on April 23, 1982 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images) /

Lonnie Smith’s career best year

Lonnie Smith’s 1982 season helped propel the St. Louis Cardinals to their 9th World Series Championship. In fact, the argument could be made that Smith was the best offensive player on the Cardinals in 1982. It certainly was the zenith of Smith’s career.

Smith led the Cardinals in BA (.307), OPS (.815), OPS+ (128), Hits (182), Doubles (35), Stolen Bases (68), Total Bases (257) and tied for the lead in Triples (8). Additionally, he not only led the Cardinals in Runs, but also the National League (120).

The 26-year-old left fielder placed second to only to George Hendrick in SLG and to Keith Hernandez in OBP and games played. The only down size to Smith’s 1982 offensive numbers was the number of times he was caught stealing, which was 26. He led both the Cardinals and the National League in that stat in 1982.

On September 4, Lonnie Smith set a franchise record by stealing five bases in a single game. Even with Vince Coleman’s record breaking career in the near future, Smith’s achievement still stands today in the Cardinal record book.

However, it was his postseason performance in that World Championship season in which Smith especially stood out. During the World Series vs the Brewers, he hit a slash line of .321/..345/.536 with 4 doubles and a triple.

To top off Lonnie Smith’s 1982 season, he not only earned his only All Star appearance, he also placed him second in NL MVP voting behind the Braves Dale Murphy. Furthermore, Smith outperformed in the voting names such as Mike Schmidt, Cy Young Award winner Steve Carlton, and teammate Bruce Sutter.

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