5 Most Underrated Cardinals Of All Time
With a fan base like the one enjoyed by the Cardinals, it’s hard to imagine that any player could ever be underrated. Among their rabid following, even Tom Lawless achieved immortality.
Sometimes players disappear from the collective memory of fans because of time, and sometimes their achievements seem less spectacular in the light of the similar superstars dotting our part of baseball’s galaxy. We’ve been fortunate to have had so many great players wearing Cardinal Red, and it’s easy to overlook some very good players who blessed this organization with their best years.
Here is a small but sturdy group of great (and grossly underrated) players we’ve seen over the years:
5. Max Lanier
Your first reaction might be, “WHO?” Time has largely left Max Lanier behind, despite Lanier being one of the important cogs in the championship Cardinal teams of the forties. Essentially the Bob Forsch of his time, the left-handed Lanier spent 12 seasons in St. Louis and crafted one of the better pre-Bob Gibson pitching lines:
|STL (12 yrs)||101||69||.594||2.84||277||85||20||1454.2||1330||544||459||51||524||764||11||133||1.275|
Lanier’s minuscule 1943 ERA is largely forgotten, as is his incredible 2.84 lifetime ERA over 12 seasons with St. Louis. He had just one losing season, a shortened stint with the club as a 22 year-old rookie.
Did you notice the two-year break (1946-1949) in Lanier’s Cardinal career? This was caused by Lanier (and several other players) defecting from the team to accept contracts from a Mexican baseball league promising to double their American salaries. When the contracts turned out to be bogus, Lanier was denied re-entry into baseball by then-commissioner Happy Chandler. The players filed lawsuits, which were then dropped after Chandler lifted the ban. So Lanier was another important figure in the development of the player’s union and greater rights for baseball players to come.
Click number 2 to go to the next player in our countdown!