St. Louis Cardinals History: All-Time Best Bullpen Based on WAR

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Trevor Rosenthal (6.0 WAR from 2012-2017)

When Rosenthal had command of his fastball he was one of the best relievers in baseball. He was a lights-out set-up man throughout the 2013 postseason, then recorded 93 saves in 2014 and 2015, making his first and only All-Star game appearance in 2015. Rosenthal had 435 strikeouts in just 325 innings pitched in St.Louis.

Bruce Sutter (6.3 WAR from 1981-1984)

The Cardinal Hall of Famer and Baseball Hall of Famer was one of the big pieces in the Cardinals' run to the World Series title. Sutter is remembered most for striking out Brewers Gorman Thomas to clinch the Cardinals' 9th championship. He led the league in saves in 3 of his 4 seasons in St.Louis, including the strike-shortened 1981 season.

Joe Hoerner (6.4 WAR from 1966-1969)

One of the first prototypical closers in Cardinals history, recording 59 across four seasons. Hoerner never had a season in St.Louis with an ERA over 3, hardly walked anybody, only walking 62 in over 240 innings pitched.

Jason Isringhausen (6.8 WAR from 2002-2008)

The Cardinals signed " Izzy " in free agency back in 2001 after he became an elite closer for the Athletics. In his seven seasons in St. Louis, he recorded 217 saves, the most in Cardinals history, including a league-leading 47 in 2004, and was an All-Star the following year. The Cardinals got Isringahausens prime years as he had a 2.98 ERA across 401 appearances with the Redbirds.

Jesse Haines (Approximately 6.5 WAR from 1933-1937)

Haines is an interesting one to look at, mainly because he made 387 starts over his 18 seasons in St.Louis, but he made at least one appearance in relief in each of those seasons. WAR can definitely sway in the favor of a starting pitcher due to the fact that they usually throw more innings, and Haines did have more relief appearances than starts in his last five seasons, but he still made a combined 43 starts in those years. If you only calculate those seasons where his relief outings exceeded his starts his total WAR was 6.5, but the accuracy of that number is in doubt. This discrepancy will come up again later on.

Let's now take a look at the top 5 Cardinal relievers based on WAR.