The #1 shortstop in team history will not be a surprise, but the names on the way there certainly are an interesting mix.
When you think of St. Louis Cardinals shortstops, it's easy to know where to start. But what about the second-best player at that position? How about continuing down the list? Well, let's dig into those rankings, beginning with the honorable mentions. These players are remembered fondly by the fanbase, but for different reasons and lengths of service.
Dal Maxvill patrolled the shortstop position for St. Louis during the bulk of the 1960s, participating in three World Series and capturing two titles, in 1964 and '67. The reason he isn't ranked higher is because Maxvill was a pretty poor hitter. Over a decade-long, 1100-game career with the Cardinals, he batted .220 with five home runs, 208 RBI, and 252 runs. Sure, shortstops weren't expected to do much with the bat back then, and that was a low-scoring period overall, but those numbers are quite anemic. Maxvill does hold a World Series record, however, going 0-for-22 in the 1968 Fall Classic. He did receive a Gold Glove that season, as well as a 20th-place finish in National League Most Valuable Player award voting.
Jhonny Peralta finished his 15-year career with a four-season run in St. Louis that started out well but petered out due to injury. He received MVP consideration (finishing 14th) in 2014 and was an All-Star the next season. Peralta played in 312 of the team's 324 games during those two years, but then things fell apart. He made it into just 103 contests during his last two seasons, being released in June of 2017, attempted to continue his career with the Red Sox for another month, and then faded into the sunset of retirement.
David Eckstein wasn't a Redbird for very long, but he did well while he was with the team during the 2005-'07 seasons. A 21st-place MVP finish during his first season with the team, a World Series championship the next year, and two All-Start appearances during that time are the key highlights of Eckstein's tenure with St. Louis. He brought a high batting average, some speed, and an energy that teammates and fans all appreciated.
The best season of Dick Groat's career was his MVP-winning 1960 campaign with the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, he came close to capturing another award as a Cardinal, finishing second in 1963, his first of three years with St. Louis. He repeated as an All-Star in '64, with the Redbirds finishing as World Series champions that season. Groat's bat continued its decline his last year with the team, and in October of 1965, he was dealt to the San Francisco Giants along with Bob Uecker and Bill White. Still, a runner-up MVP finish is enough to earn an honorable mention among all-time St. Louis shortstops.
While it may be difficult to recall given how poorly he's performed the last couple of seasons, Paul DeJong had a terrific start to his career. He bopped 25 homers in his inaugural season and played terrific defense, leading to a second-place finish in Rookie of the Year voting in 2017. A power surge two years later got DeJong to 30 long balls and earned him an All-Star nod. Despite being the only Cardinals shortstop ever to hit over 100 home runs in his career, the future is cloudy for DeJong, whose OPS+ has declined every season of his career.
With those preliminaries out of the way, let's get to the top five.
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.