First Base: Mark McGwire – 1998
This one was a tough one to pick. The St. Louis Cardinals have 6 players who have won 10 Silver Slugger Awards. The names include, Keith Hernandez, George Hendrick, Jack Clark, Mark McGwire, Albert Pujols, and Paul Goldschmidt.
What a group.
Hernandez won the award in 1980, which isn’t even his best season in St. Louis. He hit a slash line of .321/.408/.494 with a 147 OPS+. He slugged 16 HR and had 99 RBI. His left handed bat led the NL in OBP and in runs scored(111).
George Hendrick took over first base after Hernandez was traded, and won the award in 1983 by hitting a slash line of .318/.373/.493 with an OPS+ 138. He also hit 18 HR and knocked in 97 RBI.
Jack Clark won the award twice, in ’85 and ’87. Clark’s year in 1987 was outstanding. He had 1.055 OPS and an OPS+ of 176. The right hander also slugged 35 HR and had 106 RBI. He led the NL in 1987 in BB (136), OBP (.459), SLG (.597), along with OPS and OPS+.
Albert Pujols won the award four times in 2004, 2008, 2009, and 2010 Picking his best year of the four is challenging, but I would say, overall, it was 2008. The Cardinal legend hit a slash line of .357/.462/.653 with an OPS+ of 192. He also added 37 HR and 116 RBI. He also led the NL in SLG, OPS (1.114), OPS+, total bases (342), and intentional walks (34).
We all had the opportunity to watch Paul Goldschmidt win the Silver Slugger Award in 2022. It was his fifth overall, but first wearing the Birds on the Bat. Goldy hit a slash line of .317/.404/.578 with a 180 OPS+. He also sent 35 pitches out of park and added 115 RBIs to the Cardinals explosive offense in 2022. Goldschmidt also led the league in SLG, OPS (.981). and (OPS+).
Nonetheless, I have to go with Mark McGwire’s 1998 monster season as the best Silver Slugger performance for a Cardinal first baseman. The right handed McGwire not only it 70 HR and 147 RBI during that historic season, he also led the NL in OBP (.470). (.752), OPS (1.222), OPS+(216), and BB (162).
More on my McGwire pick at the end of this piece.
Second Base: Matt Carpenter – 2013
This one wasn’t hard at all. Matt Carpenter is the only Cardinal to ever win a Silver Slugger Award at second base. This was a somewhat surprising to me, especially considering Tommy Herr’s 1985 season. But more on Herr later.
What some may have forgotten, is what a good offensive player Matt Carpenter was for the Cardinals for a period of seven years. The Cardinals NL Championship in 2013 illustrates it perfectly.
Carpenter had a slash line of .318/.392/..481 with a 140 OPS+. His left handed bat contributed 11 HR and 78 RBIs while primarily leading off. But his most impressive stats were that in 2013 he led the NL in runs (126), hits (199), and doubles (55).
Back to Herr, The switch hitter had an remarkable season in 1985. He hit a slash line of .302/.379/.415 with a 123 OPS+. He contributed only 9 HR, but had 110 RBIs. Quite an accomplishment considering so few home runs. Certainly, you would think worthy of the Silver Slugger Award.
So, who won the 1985 NL Sliver Slugger Award? The Chicago Cubs’ Ryan Sandberg.