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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First Base: Albert Pujols, 88.8 WAR

Drafted in the 13th round of the '99 Draft by the Cardinals, Albert Pujols spent just one season in the minors before bursting onto the scene in 2001. Winning Rookie of the Year, a Silver Slugger, being named to his first of eleven All-Star teams, and finishing fourth in MVP voting, you knew he was special. Maybe we didn't know he was going to be 703 home runs (4th all-time MLB), and over 2,200 RBIs (2nd all-time MLB) special, but we knew something was up.

Albert Pujols was the definition of an embarrassment of riches all-in-one ball player. Only four players in the history of baseball have had 10+ seasons of a .300 batting average, 30+ HRs, and 100+ RBIs. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Albert, and Manny Ramirez. Of those cats, "The Machine" is the only one to start his career doing such.

Over his 12 seasons with the Cardinals, 2001-2011, 2022, Albert lead with his bat and glove, and was a champion in his work ethic and leadership true and through. In the 1,814 games that he put on the Cardinals uniform, Pujols's average season was .326/.417/.614 slash line with 39 home runs and 116 RBIs. That's insane. He won three MVP awards, in 2005, 2008, and 2009 (and easily could have won four more if it wasn't for Bonds and Ryan Howard). Albert also nabbed two gold gloves in his prime at first base in 2006 and 2009 to go along with six Silver Slugger awards.

But, if you ask anyone who knew him or played with him, his drive to win was what made him who he was. Albert helped usher in a new wave of Cardinals baseball, one of winning, to lead the Cardinals to eight postseason appearances in his twelve years as a Bird. He was just as good in the postseason as he was in the regular season as well with a .319 avg, 19 HRs, and 54 RBIs in 88 games. He was the captain leading the charge to three World Series appearances the Cardinals made it to, and ultimately winning it all in 2006 and 2011 respectively. I could go on and on singing the praises of the future Hall of Famer, but I think you get the point.

After the magical 2011 season, Albert decided to go out west where he signed a 10-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels that took him through the 2012-2021 seasons. His skill set ultimately fell off as age and injuries caught up with him to the point that the Angels flat-out cut him halfway through 2021, only for the Dodgers to sign him and bring some new life into the legend.

Pujols then went on to sign a one-year contract in 2022, back where it all began with the Cardinals, and finish his career with style. He swatted a ridiculous 24 home runs and slugged .550 at the ripe age of 42 in his swan song season. My personal favorite stat of Albert Pujols is that in his 22-year major league career, he never struck out more than 93 times in a season. There will never be another Albert Pujols, and that's why he's mans first base on our all-time team.

Next: Second Base is a man who managed and played at the same time