The Super Powerful Power Rankings: Least Effective Cardinals “Rookie of the Year” Finalists

17
Nov
2010

Earlier this week, Jaime Garcia’s impressive rookie season officially gained him the bronze medal in the NL Rookie of the Year voting and placed him amongst some elite company.  Garcia became just the eighth Cardinal player in the last 20 years to finish Top 5 in the Rookie of the Year voting. 

Any ranking to determine which of those players has gone on to achieve the most success begins and ends with Albert Pujols, so we’re switching things around.  Today we take a look at the Cardinals who finished in the Top 5 of their respective ROY voting, and rank which had the least effective big league careers given the promise they started with…

5.) Ray Lankford 3rd, 1991
Don’t take offense, Ray, as by no means is this a judgement of overall effectiveness in your career.  It’s hard to dispute that Ray Lankford had an solid career by any measure, but the expectations after he broke into the league in ’91 were undoubtedly high. Lankford didn’t overacheive in 1991, instead his third place finish in the ROY race was viewed by many as just the starting point for a player who might perennially compete for the MVP award.

After his 14 years in the league came to an end, Ray boasted just two appearances on the MVP ballot – never finishing better than 16th – which served as a small indication that perhaps the expectations after 1991 were a shade too high.

1991 ROY Voting:
1st Jeff Bagwell
2nd Orlando Merced

4.) John Mabry 4th, 1995
Mabry took a nice step up for the 1996 Birds, but from ’97 on, he established that his bat just wasn’t good enough to be a starter at an offensively rich position like 1B.  It didn’t help that a guy named McGwire jumped him on the depth chart when he came aboard. 

We’ll never discredit him for his appearances on the 1996 “Baseball Like it Oughta Be” Cardinals video.  Top notch.

1995 ROY Voting
1st Hideo Nomo
2nd Chipper Jones
3rd Quilvio Veres
4th Jason Isringhausen
4th John Mabry

3.) Donovan Osborne 5th, 1992
Given what we saw here in St. Louis, it’s sort of shocking that Osborne technically played until 2004.  That is until you realize four full seasons were missed and five others saw him log under 15 appearances.  That’s more like the Donovan we remember. 

He showed some legit talent on the mound but possibly more when it came to finding ways to get off of it. 

1996 was undoubtedly his finest season as a starter where he helped lead the Cardinals to the NLCS, and shut down the Braves in Game 3.  Of course, those who remember Game 7 might want to forget it, including Osborne. If you want to relive that 15-0 shellacking, feel free.

1992 ROY Voting
1st Eric Karros
2nd Moises Alou
3rd Tim Wakefield
4th Reggie Sanders

2.) Rick Ankiel 2nd, 2000
When it came to being a pitcher, the word “disappointment” is really the only one that makes sense in describing Rick Ankiel’s career.  We saw an increasingly dominant starter who had freakish potential unravel in front of a national audience in a cringe-worthy control meltdown. 

No doubt his unlikely comeback as a Major League hitter helped soften the blow, but his second place finish in the 2000 Rookie of the Year voting wasn’t even sufficient in describing how electric of a starter Ankiel could have become.

2000 ROY Voting
1st Rafael Furcal

1.) Joe McEwing 5th, 1999
Super Joe’s 5th place finish in the ROY race was a perfect example of overachieving. Even reasonable Cardinals fans were able to look beyond his scrappiness and recognize that the first half of the ’99 season where he batted .305/.418/.500 was a tease by an eventual utility man. 

His .223/.303/.362 in the second half confirmed that, but the overall year was still enough to get him some love on the ROY ballots. 

Overachieving is certainly not a bad thing.  Especially when it earns you nine seasons in the Major Leagues and 1963 total plate appearances at the highest level of baseball.  The countless standing ovations from Cardinals fans never hurts either. 

1999 ROY Voting
1st Scott Williams
2nd Preston Wilson
3rd Warren Morris
4th Kris Benson


E-mail: josh@joesportsfan.com
Twitter: @jbacott

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