The St. Louis Cardinals all-time best starting lineup based on WAR

Compiling the Cardinals' all-time best starting lineup based on WAR created some surprising lineup choices
Albert Pujols sits at 88.8 WAR for his career as a Cardinal, but where does that rank him all-time?
Albert Pujols sits at 88.8 WAR for his career as a Cardinal, but where does that rank him all-time? / Stacy Revere/GettyImages
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Catcher: Ted Simmons, 45 WAR

I know, I know, a surprise right out of the gate. Many pundits, experts, players, and managers alike have raved about how Yadier Molina had so many intangibles that made his value hard to quantify, but in this list Ted Simmons had a higher WAR.

A member of the 2020 National Baseball Hall of Fame, Ted Simmons played for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1968-1980. During this time he played over 1,400 games behind the plate for the Cardinals while being named to six all-star teams, winning one Silver Slugger, and finishing as high as sixth in M.V.P. voting one year (1975). He was a rare treat: A true offensive first catcher hitting both for power and average. Oh, and a switch hitter too.

Acquiring the nickname "Simba" because of his long hair resembling a lion's mane, Simba had the ferocity of a lion as well. He averaged .298 as a Cardinal in his career while wacking over 20 home runs in a season five different times for a total of 172 in a Cardinals uniform (2nd All-time for Catchers in Cardinals history). He was also an RBI machine with six seasons with 90 or more runs batted in, for a total of 929 in his Cardinals career (2nd all-time for catchers in Cardinals history). He did most of this damage while batting fourth in the lineup as a catcher. Something you don't regularly see, especially back then.

Although Simba was a force to be reckoned with for the Cardinals through the 1970s, this was also an abnormal period in Cardinals' history where St. Louis only made the playoffs once during Simmons' time with them. That was his rookie year in 1968 when the Cardinals lost to the Detroit Tigers in the World Series 4 games to 3 and Ted had not even been included on the postseason roster. Simmons was traded after the 1980 season to the Milwaukee Brewers along with Rollie Fingers in a six-person trade where he played for five seasons, before retiring with Atlanta in 1988. Ted Simmons never did get that elusive World Series ring.

Next: A starting first baseman who shouldn't be too much of a surprise.