Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Remembering the 1964 St. Louis Cardinals

The '64 Cardinals: a model of integration and loaded with talent (The Baseball Page)
Piggybacking off this morning's post: here's a quick look at the 1964 St. Louis Cardinals team that won it all. Everyone remembers the Phillies' epic collapse that year, but St. Louis made it possible by forging an eight-game win streak in late September to pass Philadelphia, then win the final game of the season to avoid a three-way tie with Philly and Cincinnati.

Without further adieu. your 1964 World Series champions:

C Tim McCarver
McCarver was just 22 years-old but already in his fifth season with the Cards. He batted a very solid .288/.343/.400 while catching 137 games, good for 3.4 bWAR.

1B Bill White
White was one of the team's elder statesmen at 30, but still young enough to continue his run as the National League's top all-around first baseman. An All-Star for the fifth and final time, White won his fifth straight Gold Glove award in addition to batting .303/.355/.474. He finished third in the MVP race thanks to his strong counting numbers: 5.4 bWAR, 21 home runs, 102 RBI, 92 runs, 191 hits, 37 doubles, and 299 total bases.

2B Julian Javier
Javier was barely above replacement level due to his .644 OPS, though his 12 homers and 65 RBI were career-highs up to that point.

3B Ken Boyer
The major league RBI leader (with 119) was also the National League MVP, even if Dick Allen was clearly more deserving. Boyer was outstanding in his last great season, playing every game, batting .295/.365/.489, and compiling 6.1 bWAR. The All-Star third baseman also socked 24 homers, scored 100 runs, and racked up 307 total bases.

SS Dick Groat
The former MVP and batting champion with the Pirates was still among the league's best shortstops at 33. Had no power whatsoever (1 home run) but played all but one game and made the All-Star team for the fifth and final time. Batted .292/.335/.371 with more walks (44) then strikeouts (42). Also ripped 35 doubles.

LF Lou Brock
Acquired midseason from the Cubs via trade, Brock helped ignite the Cardinals to the pennant. The 25 year-old future Hall of Famer batted a scintillating .348/.387/.527 with 12 home runs and 33 steals in 103 games with St. Louis, contributing 5.7 bWAR while hitting out of the two hole.

CF Curt Flood
Flood made his first All-Star squad, won his second Gold Glove, and paced the National League with 211 hits. The Cards' leadoff hitter also batted .311, scored 97 runs, and was worth 4.7 bWAR.

RF Mike Shannon
"Moonman" missed most of the first half with injuries but rebounded with a healthy second half to finish the year with a solid .261/.315/.410 line.


LF Charlie James
The starting left fielder displaced by Brock, James was relegated to pinch-hitting duties after the trade.

RF Carl Warwick
Warwick helped cover for Shannon while he was out and provided a close approximation of Shannon's slash lines at .259/.306/.373.

RF Bob Skinner
A midseason trade to the Cardinals, Skinner supplemented Shannon in right and was also used as a pinch-hitter.


SP Bob Gibson
A pitcher on the rise in '64, Gibson was still a few years away from becoming "Bob Gibson." That said, he was still an incredible talent. His 287 innings, 3.01 ERA, 245 strikeouts and 2.85 K/BB ratio topped the rotation. He also won 19 games, completed 17 of his 36 starts, and was worth six wins above replacement.

SP Curt Simmons
At 35 and in his 17th big league season, Simmons wasn't blowing hitters away (3.8 K/9) but was still crafty enough to fool them. He also had impeccable control, with only 1.8 BB/9. How else do you explain how he completed 244 innings, won 18 games and went the distance in 12 starts?

SP Ray Sadecki
The team's lone 20 game winner, Sadecki was a 23 year-old southpaw still finding his way in the big leagues. He tossed 220 innings but was clearly the team's third-best starter behind Gibson and Simmons.

SP Roger Craig
After a couple rough years with the Mets, Craig appeared to enjoy pitching for a contender. Between his 19 starts and 20 relief appearances, Craig contributed 166 innings of 3.25 ERA-ball.

SP Ernie Broglio
Was pitching decently (3.50 ERA in 11 starts) before being traded for Brock.

SP Ray Washburn
Pitched very well in May and June with a 3.29 ERA in his 10 starts. Was shifted to the bullpen afterwards and struggled there, allowing eight earned runs in only five appearances.


CL Barney Schultz
The aging knuckleballer had a sparkling 1.64 ERA and 0.93 WHIP during the regular season, but he'll always be remembered for giving up Mickey Mantle's walk-off blast in Game 3.

RP Ron Taylor
Led Cardinal relievers with 63 appearances and 101 innings, but was very effective with a 4.62 ERA and 1.40 WHIP.

RP Mike Cuellar
Before he was a 20-game winner and anchor of those great Baltimore Orioles rotations under Earl Weaver, he was a rookie reliever with a 4.50 ERA in 72 innings. Talk about an inauspicious beginning.

RP Bob Humphreys
One of the team's most effective relievers with a 2.53 ERA in 28 appearances.

RP Gordie Richardson
Like Humphreys. very effective (2.30 ERA) in limited action (47 innings)


Johnny Keane
In his fourth year at the helm of the Cardinals, Keane led them to a repeat of their 1963 record (93-69). While that was only good enough for second place in '63, in '64 it won the pennant. He was on the hot seat for much of the season before his team improbably passed the Phillies in the final weeks of the season. Shockingly, Keane resigned after winning the Series, a decision he'd made in late September at the height of the pennant race. He would manage the Yankees in 1965, replacing Yogi Berra.

After examining both rosters, I think the Cardinals had a better team even though they won fewer games. St. Louis's starting lineup was stronger and more balanced, and stayed healthy enough to prevent Keane from relying on his weak bench. Pound for pound the rotation was just as good as New York's, though the bullpen was definitely weaker. Overall the Yankees had more depth, but St. Louis had more players in their prime and more "stars". Their best players were better than New York's, even if their worst players were worse than New York's. Accordingly, I am not surprised the Cards took the Series in 7.

McCarver, Boyer, and Gibson celebrate (I70Baseball)

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