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All-Time Cardinal Team Tournament: Smith Opening Round

Posted on March 16, 2012 at 10:00 AM
Filed Under: St. Louis Cardinals | United Cardinal Bloggers
Hopefully you read yesterday's post detailing the All-Time Cardinal Team Tournament dreamed up by Nick from Pitchers Hit Eighth.  Yesterday, the Musial Regional and the Buck Regional kicked off, and if you've not voted in those, please go and do so.  Today, Aaron Miles' Fastball opens the Gibson Regional and, below, you'll find the opening round matchups for the Smith Regional.

Again, ground rules are to vote for the team that you think should move on.  That doesn't necessarily mean it's your favorite team, though how you rationalize your vote is up to you.  Voting will be open until Sunday at 8 PM Central, so be sure to spread the word.

Without further ado, let's jump right into the games.  I've enlisted one of our resident UCB historians, Bob Netherton of On The Outside Corner, to give his opinion on each matchup for your consideration as well.

Quick note: Players are listed by the Baseball-Reference WAR.  The site does not have WAR for pitchers before a certain time, which is why, for example, Dizzy Dean isn't listed in the "Key Players" section for 1934.

(1) 2004 (105-57) vs. (16) 1975 (82-80)

The case for 2004105 games speaks for itself.  That ties this team with 1944 and 1943 for the second-most wins in team history, trailing 1942 by one.  They played in one of the great NLCS of all time and perhaps was just a play or two away from winning Game 1 of the World Series against Boston, which could have changed the whole tone of the series.  Key members of the squad: Albert Pujols (9.4 WAR), Scott Rolen (9.2), Jim Edmonds (8.4).

The case for 1975: They did crack the .500 mark.  They had Hall-of-Famers in Lou Brock and Bob Gibson and were managed by another one in Red Schoendienst.  It was also the year I was born, so it has that going for it.  Key members of the squad: Bob Forsch (5.3 WAR), Ted Simmons (4.8), Lynn McGlothen (3.7)

Bob's take: Behind the strength of MV3 - Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds, all posting an OPS over 1.000, the 2004 Cardinals roared into the postseason after winning 105 games. Four Cardinals pitchers won 15 or more games and Jason Isringhausen saved 47. The only thing that kept the Cardinals from winning their tenth World Series Championship was a red hot Boston Red Sox team. The 1975 Cardinals were a .500 team that had one hot run early in the season. Injuries and all those innings finally caught up with Bob Gibson, and he retired before the end of the season. The '04 Cardinals blow through Bake McBride, Keith Hernandez, Lynn McGlothen and the rest of the '75 squad.

(8) 1963 (93-69) vs (9) 1939 (92-61)

The case for 1963: This team finished second (out of 10 teams in a pre-divisional setup), six games behind a Dodger team that featured Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.  They spent 39 days in first, including as late as July 1.  It was Stan Musial's last year with the club and this team had a number of members that made 1964 so memorable.  Key members of the squad: Dick Groat (6.4 WAR), Bill White (5.3), Curt Flood (5.0)

The case for 1939: They also finished second, though in an eight-team league.  They had a ten-game winning streak at the beginning of August and finished only 4.5 game behind the Cincinnati Reds.  They won when it was close, as they were 27-15 in one-run games.  Key members of the squad: Johnny Mize (7.4 WAR), Joe Medwick (4.1), Enos Slaughter (3.7).

Bob's take: As you might expect, from the 8th and 9th seeds in the bracket, this matchup is very hard to call. It could go either way. The edge here goes to the '63 team. While many have learned of the heroics from 1964, thanks to a similar end to the season last year, many of the members of that team say the club in 1963 was even better, and it probably was. The put on an even more impressive late season surge than in 1964, the difference being that the '63 Dodgers did not fold at the end. Since the Dodgers swept the Yankees in '63, and Reds were swept by a different bunch of Yankees in '39, the two teams will play close, but the edge goes to Bob Gibson, Stan Musial, Bill White and the '63 Cardinals.

The rest of the first-round games can be found after the jump.

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(5) 1974 (86-75) vs. (12) 1960 (86-68)

The case for 1974: A team not that different from the 1975 squad, but it had a Rookie of the Year in Bake McBride.  They finished second in the National League East to Pittsburgh by a game and a half, after leading the division for 90 days and as late as September 30.  They also pitched 13 shutouts at their opponents, including one by Bob Gibson.  Key members of the squad: Reggie Smith (5.6 WAR), Lynn McGlothen (5.2), McBride (4.5).

The case for 1960: They finished third in the eight-team NL, losing out to eventual World Champion Pittsburgh by nine games. They threw eleven shutouts at their opponents, though they were shut out the same number of times.  They also won 32 of their 43 one-run games and had Stan Musial, Bill White and, in a relief role, a young Bob Gibson.  Key members of the squad: Ernie Brogilo (6.6 WAR), Ken Boyer (6.2), Larry Jackson (5.5).

Bob's Take: Lou Brock stole a record 118 bases in 1974, Bake McBride won the NL Rookie of the Year, and this was the last good season from Bob Gibson. Behind a balanced offensive team, the '74 Cardinals got to within 20 minutes and 1 pitch from their first NL East title. The 1960 club had a young core of players that would send the team to the World Series three different times, but they were still developing. Bob Gibson had not yet become the force he would in 1964. Manager Solly Hemus continued to toy with Stan Musial, resulting in his only disappointing season of his career. It doesn't matter who they play, Solly Hemus will turn any victory into a crushing defeat. '74 Cardinals win in a runaway.

(4) 1968 (97-65) vs. (13) 1948 (85-69)

The case for 1968: Well, they won the National League, so that has to count for something.  Though they lost to Detroit in seven game (a season and a series that was outlined in a recent book review here on the blog), St. Louis was considered the favorite and perhaps could have won the series if it weren't for Curt Flood's fateful slip.  You have Bob Gibson in his prime, Lou Brock stealing bases, and Orlando Cepeda giving us the phrase that became famous.  Key members of the squad: Gibson (11.9 WAR), Brock (5.1 WAR), Flood (4.0).

The case for 1948: Though this squad stopped the every-even-year-a-title pattern that was running along, they still had their strengths.  They finished second in the NL to the Boston Braves of Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain.  They were in first 27 days, though not after June 8th.  Stan Musial was one (legendary) rained-out home run away from the Triple Crown. They threw 13 shutouts and scored 21 runs on what, 27 years later, would be my birthday.  Key members of the squad: Musial (11.5 WAR), Enos Slaughter (5.0), Ron Northey (2.2)

Bob's Take: It took a craft lefty, a wet artificial turf and a defensive mistake from one of the best outfielders of his generation for the Detroit Tigers to defeat the 1968 Cardinals. Stan Musial turned in one of the best years of his career in 1948, winning the NL MVP. Enos Slaughter also turned in one of his better professional seasons. Neither of them had to do what Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Al Kaline had to do - and that was face Bob Gibson. Because of his dominance, the league would change their rules, lowering the mound by 6 inches. The only weakness the '68 Cardinals had was to left handed pitching, and the '48 team had a dandy in Harry Brecheen

But in the end, Curt Flood makes that catch 99 times out of 100, and the record setting pitching from Bob Gibson defeats Stan Musial in a close one.

(3) 1946 (98-58) vs (14) 1992 (83-79)

The case for 1946: A World Series title always helps.  The '46 squad won the NL by two games over Brooklyn and then beat the Red Sox on Enos Slaughter's mad dash.  You had Stan Musial and Red Schoendienst and a pitching staff led by Harry Brecheen.  They also went 34-19 in one run games.  Key members of the squad: Musial (9.8 WAR), Whitey Kurowski (5.1), Slaughter (5.0).

The case for 1992: It was the hundred-year anniversary of the Cardinals' playing in the National League.  The Cards finished third that year under Joe Torre, but did spend 10 days in first early in the season.  They wound up 13 games behind the last good Pittsburgh Pirates team, though they may have done better had offseason acquisition Andres Galarraga not been injured in his second game with the club and forced to miss seven weeks.  Key members of the squad: Bob Tewksbury (6.0), Ray Lankford (4.3 WAR), Ozzie Smith (4.3).

Bob's Take: Bernard Gilkey led the 1992 Cardinals in offense and soft tossing Bob Tewksbury led the staff with 16 wins. The 1946 Cardinals were led by Stan Musial, with another MVP season (his second). The surprise of 1946 was a phenomenal young lefty named Howie Pollet. After serving two years in military service, the 25 year old would lead the league in wins (21), ERA (2.10) and innings pitched (266). Bernard Gilkey vs Stan Musial, Howie Pollet vs Bob Tewsbury ? '46 in a blowout.

(6) 2002 (97-65) vs. (11) 2010 (86-76)

The case for 2002: If nothing else, this team gets some sympathy votes.  Just days after losing Jack Buck, the voice of the Cardinals for so many years, the team shockingly lost staff ace Darryl Kile as well.  The team struggled in the immediate aftermath, but righted the ship and won the divisional title before falling in six games to San Francisco in the NLCS.  It was also an active trading season, as the Cards brought in Scott Rolen and Chuck Finley.  Key members of the squad: Jim Edmonds (7.2 WAR), Albert Pujols (5.8), Edgar Renteria (4.2).

The case for 2010: If nothing else, this team should get some scrapper (not scrappy) votes.  The season-long rivalry with the Reds came to a head with a brawl in Cincinnati that ended the career of Jason La Rue.  The Cards took first place in that series, but stumbled down the stretch to finish five games behind Cincinnati. Key members of the squad: Albert Pujols (7.1 WAR), Adam Wainwright (5.9), Matt Holliday (5.2).

Bob's Take: Behind the strenght of Matt Morris 17-9 record, a veteran outfielder named Edmonds and a youngster named Pujols, the 2002 Cardinals won the NL Central by 13 games. After brushing aside the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Cardinals lost three heartbreakers to the San Francisco Giants, preventing them from reaching the World Series for the first time under Tony La Russa. Injuries derailed the 2010 Cardinals from the outset, but it took a brutal road trip in August for the wheels to finally come off. 

However, good pitching always beats good hitting and this was about as good as Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright (pre-TJ surgery) were, so the 2010 Cardinals defeat the 2002 pre-MV3 Cardinals in an upset.

(7) 1949 (96-58) vs. (10) 1993 (87-75)

The case for 1949: They led the National League for 64 days before falling one game short of catching Brooklyn for the title.  This team is tied for 13th in Cardinal history with 96 wins and has a lot of the same players that dominated the decade.  Speaking of 13, that's how many shutouts they threw (and how many were thrown at them).  Key members of the squad: Stan Musial (8.7 WAR), Enos Slaughter (5.4), Red Schoendienst (3.0).

The case for 1993: Another one of those Joe Torre teams that didn't quite get over the hump, the '93 club finished third in the old NL East behind a Philadelphia team that went to the World Series and the Montreal Expos.  They reached their season high of 18 games over .500 in the middle of July, but couldn't push any closer to the divisional title.  Key members of the squad: Gregg Jefferies (5.2 WAR), Bernard Gilkey (3.2), Bob Tewksbury (2.9).

Bob's Take: Four Cardinals hit over .300 in 1949 (Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, Eddie Kazak and Nippy Jones) and Red Schoendienst wasn't far behind at .297. Throw in the second 20 win season for Howie Pollet and these Cardinals finished one game behind the Brooklyn Dodgers in the NL. Even though the 1993 Cardinals featured one of the best closers in the game, Lee Smith, the big bats from '49 have decided the outcome of this series while Lee Smith is napping in the bullpen.

(2) 1934 (95-58) vs. (15) 1999 (75-86)

The case for 1934: It was a World Series winner, taking it from Detroit in seven games.  It was also the Gashouse Gang, with a cast of characters that may never again be equaled in St. Louis history.  Dizzy Dean won 30 games and his brother Paul won 19, with both of them winning two games apiece in the Series.  Anytime Leo Durocher isn't the most colorful character, you know you've got something.  Key members of the squad: Ripper Collins (6.1 WAR), Joe Medwick (3.2), Bill DeLancey (2.9).

The case for 1999: The only sub-.500 team in this bracket, '99 wasn't without its highlights.  Mark McGwire hit 65 home runs that season, a year after his record-setting performance.  Fernando Tatis hit 34 long balls, including two grand slams in one inning off of Chan Ho Park. Kent Bottenfield won 18 games, which made him attractive to the Angels in that offseason as the Cards got Jim Edmonds out of the deal.  Finally, Rick Ankiel debuted in August of that season.  Key members of the squad: McGwire (5.5 WAR), Ray Lankford (3.8), Darren Oliver (3.4).

Bob's Take: The 1934 Cardinals were built on pitching, headed up by the Dean brothers, winners of a combined 49 games between the two, plus all four in the World Series win over Detroit. That team also featured four future Hall of Famers (Dizzy Dean, Leo Durocher, Frankie Frisch and Ducky Medwick). Even though Mark McGwire hit 65 homers in 1999, the team was no match for the juggernaut from 1934.

Polls close at 8 PM Central on Sunday evening. Check back here Monday for the winners and Tuesday for the next round of voting!

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