2. Marty Marion
Length of service certainly is a factor in these rankings, as a long, steady career can be as valuable and meaningful as - or even more so than - a shorter burst of strong performance. It's that extended tenure, in addition to numerous contributions - some more tangible than others - that vault Marty Marion this high up the charts.
Second all-time in games played among Cardinals shortstops, Marion received more acclaim for his glove than for his bat, a common occurrence for middle infielders throughout baseball history, though the last quarter century has seen the hitting standard at shortstop spike considerably. During his run with the Redbirds from 1940 through 1950, Marion achieved plenty of laurels for his on-field performance.
His second season in the majors was the first of seven straight, and eight overall, in which Marion received MVP votes, finishing 24th. The 1942 campaign saw him jump to seventh in the voting. Then, after a bit of a drop-off (to just 13th) the following year, the 1944 season saw Marion capture the NL MVP award.
While his bat was possibly the most potent in any season, he only recorded six home runs, 63 RBI, 50 runs scored, and a 1-for-4 showing in stolen bases while batting .267/.324/.362. The fact that many major leaguers were fighting in World War II thinned out the competition, but serving as the defensive anchor on a team that won 105 games (15 more than second-place Pittsburgh) and won the World Series was enough for voters to tab Marion with this illustrious honor.
Though he earned MVP votes in just three additional seasons, Marion was an eight-time All-Star, participating in the Midsummer Classic every year from 1943 through 1950, his final campaign as the Cardinals' shortstop. Knee and back injuries cost him the 1951 season on the field, though Marion did spend that year as the Cardinals' manager, leading them to a third-place finish. He wrapped up his career with an abbreviated 1952 campaign and a very brief 1953 showing with St. Louis' other franchise, the Browns.
His numbers may not exactly scream superstar when compared to modern players. Marion batted .264/.323/.346 in 1502 games with the Cardinals, bopping 34 homers, driving in 605 runs, and scoring 586 times. However, the team won three World Series in four appearances with Marion as their starting shortstop, and championships are what every player strives for. The personal and team achievements of the Cardinals during his time with the franchise earn Marion the honor of second place on this list.