Cardinals 5 all-time best shortstops in franchise history

Oct 1987; St.Louis, MO, USA; FILE PHOTO; St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith in action against
Oct 1987; St.Louis, MO, USA; FILE PHOTO; St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith in action against / Tony Tomsic-USA TODAY Sports
6 of 6

1. Ozzie Smith

Identifying the greatest shortstop in team history was very easy. No one comes close to the impact The Wizard had on the Cardinals franchise - and the entire sport, from a defensive perspective - at this position. The 11-time Gold Glove winner for St. Louis (and a 13-time winner overall) redefined what a shortstop could do with his glove and body.

Ozzie Smith certainly is mostly known for his defense, with that mountain of golden hardware helping him earn 14 All-Star nominations as a Cardinal (plus one more as a Padre). But while Ozzie started out swinging a pretty weak bat, he developed that part of the game to the point that he achieved a nearly-league-average 99 OPS+ during the 1985-'92 period, batting .280/.361/.349 during that stretch.

It was the first of those seasons when Smith produced his highest home run total, swatting a half-dozen regular-season long balls, double the total he would reach in any other campaign. Of course, there was a certain game-winning postseason home run, the first as a left-handed hitter in the Wizard's career. That unexpected shot was a miracle moment for a certain writer who had celebrated his 14th birthday just the day before.

Taking a look at his overall numbers, in 1990 games and over 8242 plate appearances as a Cardinal, Smith hit .272/.350/.344 with 27 homers, 664 RBI, 991 runs scored, and 433 stolen bases. But it's not like numbers can fully capture the magnificence of Ozzie's wizardry, from the spectacular defensive plays, to the backflips, to the stunning postseason heroics.

Smith's excellence during his 15-year stint with St. Louis is unlikely to be surpassed. Fans of the Cardinals and every other team recognized and acknowledged his greatness through their outpourings of adoration throughout his career, and especially as it was coming to a close.

No, there will never be another Ozzie Smith, another defender to dazzle fans quite like the Wizard did. The best defensive shortstop ever? Almost undoubtedly. The greatest shortstop in St. Louis Cardinals history. Absolutely.

Next. Top 5 third basemen in Cardinals history. dark