Outfield: Albert Pujols – 2003
The St. Louis Cardinals have won six Silver Slugger Awards between six players. They are George Hendrick, Willie McGee, Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, Ryan Ludwick, and Matt Holiday.
George Hendrick and his right handed bat was a steady fixture at clean-up in the Cardinals lineup during the late 70s to the mid-80s. In 1980, he hit a slash line .302/..342/.498 with a 129 OPS+. He also contributed 25 HR and 109 RBIs to the Cardinals offense.
Willie McGee added the Silver Slugger Award in 1985 to his trophy case along with his NL MVP Award. The switch hitter had a slash line of .353/.384/.503 with an OPS+ of 147. McGee also led the NL in hits (216) and triples (18). Stolen bases was always an important ingredient to the Cardinal offense in the 80s. McGee stole 56 in 1985.
Jim Edmonds had a career year in 2004 as part of the MV3. His left handed bat hit a slash line of .301/..418/.643 with an OPS+ of 171. Additionally, Edmonds slugged 42 HR and 111 RBIs during the Cardinals 2004 World Series run.
Ryan Ludwick is sometimes the player we forget. In 2008. Ludwick’s right handed bat hit a slash line of .299/..375/..591 with a 151 OPS +. He also hit 37 HR and knocked in 113 runs for the Cardinals during his first and only All Star year.
Matt Holiday’s first full year as Cardinal earned him a Silver Slugger Award in 2010. The right hander hit a slash line of .312/.390/.532 with an OPS+ of 149. Holiday also put 28 balls over the fence and contributed 103 RBIs to the Cardinal offense.
But once again, I turn to Albert Pujols, who was hitting his prime in 2003. Pujols was still playing in the outfield, his last, when he hit a slash line of .359/.439/.667 with an OPS+ 187. He also slugged 43 HR and 124 RBIs. Albert led the NL in runs (137), hits (212), doubles (51), total bases (394), and won the batting title. Somehow he finished second in MVP voting.
Some of my selections, even surprised me. For third base and the outfield, I went into this piece forgetting about Albert playing those positions. But for the years he won the Silver Slugger Award at third and the outfield, he was clearly the best. At least in my opinion.
As far as first base, I didn’t expect myself to pick Mark McGwire. But after reviewing his 1998 season, I just couldn’t ignore it. PEDs or not, McGwire’s stats still stand. His season in 1998 is still the best.
Let me say, my opinion is clearly subjective. I understand there is room for disagreement in my selections. Nevertheless, these are my picks, and I stand by them.