5 wildly successful reclamation projects for past Cardinals teams

These five former St. Louis Cardinals exemplified the team's past skill of turning scraps into stars.
New York Mets v St. Louis Cardinals
New York Mets v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages
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Edgar Renteria

Edgar Renteria was a phenom, making his major league debut with the Florida Marlins in 1996 at only 19 years old and finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting behind the Los Angeles Dodgers' Todd Hollandsworth. After an All-Star season in 1998, the Marlins traded away their young shortstop for Cardinals pitchers Braden Looper and Armando Almanza, along with second baseman Pablo Ozuna.

The Marlins' loss was the Cardinals' gain, as Renteria built upon his early years and hit 11 home runs, more than doubling his previous season high of five. He also made his second All-Star team in 2000 while claiming his first Silver Slugger that year. Renteria's defense also improved upon his arrival in St. Louis, and he earned his first of two Gold Glove Awards in 2002.

Renteria's finest offensive season came in 2003, where he hit .330 with a 130 OPS+. He finished third on the team with 5.6 bWAR and was second in batting average to Albert Pujols' .359. His average remains the Cardinals' highest batting average in a single season for a shortstop in team history.

Renteria left in free agency after 2004 and signed with the Boston Red Sox. He continued to play well for the remainder of his career, which lasted through 2011. Somewhat overshadowed in his Cardinals career by Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds and Chris Carpenter, Renteria is not yet in the Cardinals Hall of Fame, but he is on the ballot in 2024.

The Cardinals aren't the development dynamo that they once were, but there is plenty of history for fans to look back on when their team was the epitome of a successful franchise. These five players were emblematic of the Cardinals' ability in the 2000s to emulate King Midas, turning everything they touched into gold.