Cardinals' 5 all-time best first basemen in franchise history

Paul Goldschmidt
Paul Goldschmidt / Joe Puetz/GettyImages
1 of 6

Over the years, the St. Louis Cardinals have had some of the top first basemen in the game patrolling the position.

A top-tier first baseman usually is a nice mix of a power bat and an elite defender. The Cardinals have had several top-tier first basemen over the years, as the team has been vital on infield defense and good hitting over the decades.

We will look at the top first basemen the organization has had over the years. But first, we'll look at honorable mentions for the best first basemen.

This is a part of a running series on Redbird Rants ranking the top 5 Cardinals at each position. You can find the other position groups we have ranked so far below.

Top 5 Catchers

Honorable mention top first basemen

Paul Goldschmidt. As he's currently playing first base for the Cardinals, he hasn't achieved all that's possible. Therefore keeping Goldy an honorable mention for now.

Goldschmidt came to the Cardinals before the 2019 season in a trade with the Diamondbacks for Carson Kelly and Luke Weaver. Shortly after the transaction, the Cardinals offered an extension to keep him with the Cardinals through the 2024 season.

Since joining the Cardinals, he won a Gold Glove in 2021. He had a terrific 2022 season. He was an All-Star selection, hitting a home run in his first at-bat. He was a Silver Slugger winner. He was named the NL MVP winner after a season in which he hit .317/.404/.578 with an OPS of .981, with 41 doubles, 35 home runs, 106 runs scored, and 115 RBI.

Goldy's bat and glove make him a considerable part of this team. Add in his quiet leadership, and he is an absolutely valuable member of this team which will lead him to crack this list of the organization's top first basemen.

Mark McGwire. Big Mac patrolled first base and provided a massive boost to the offense. While his name was tarnished due to a performance-enhancing drug scandal, he still helped boost the baseball game at a crucial time.

McGwire played for Tony LaRussa and the Cardinals from July 1997 through the 2001 season, when his play time was shortened due to injury. During the 1998 season, he hit .299/.470/.752 with an OPS of 1.222. He blasted 70 home runs with 147 RBI. McGwire and the Cubs' Sammy Sosa went back in forth for the home run lead during the summer of 1998, fueling a resurgence for the game after a contentious lockout in 1994. Sosa ended the season with 66 homers.

He was an All-Star in 1998, 1999, and 200 while with the Cardinals. He was second in the MVP race in 1998.

Jack Clark. Clark manned first base from 1985-87, some of the Cardinals' big seasons during Whitey Herzog's time as skipper. He is remembered fondly by Cardinals fans for his three-run home run off Tom Niedenfuer in the ninth inning of Game 6, allowing the Cardinals to clinch the pennant and advance to the World Series against the Kansas City Royals.

Clark was an All-Star in 1985 and 1987. He was third on the MVP ballot in 1987. He hit .286/.459/.597 with an OPS of 1.055 that season. He hit 35 home runs and 106 RBI. He spent nine seasons with the Giants before joining the Cardinals. After leaving the Cards, he played for the Yankees, Padres, and Red Sox.

Orlando Cepeda. He was a member of the Cardinals from 1966-68, having his best season in 1967.

Cepeda hit .325/.399/.524 with an OPS of .923. He had 25 home runs and 11 stolen bases. He led the league with 111 RBI. He was an All-Star in 1967 and was the NL MVP that season. He was a crucial figure in the Cardinals' 1967 World Series.

In 1999 he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He also played for the Giants, Braves, A's, Red Sox, and Royals

Johnny Mize. He spent six seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1936-41. He was an All-Star in 1937, 1939-41.

He came in second in the race for MVP in 1939 and 1940. In 1939, he hit .349/.444/.626 with an OPS of 1.07. He had 28 homers and 108 RBIs. He led the league in WAR at 7.5. In 1940, he hit .314/.404/.636 with an OPS of 1.039. He had 43 home runs and 137 RBIs. He led the league in WAR again at 7.4.

After playing with the Cardinals, he played for the New York Giants and the New York Yankees.

He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981 by the Veteran's Committee. This led to him becoming an inaugural member of the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014.