With 2011 coming to a close, looking back is a popular and logical thing to do. Yet the big St. Louis Cardinals moments of this year are so easy to recall, as are the players who played such key roles in that World Series success.
So today, a different look — those who also contributed much yet haven’t received the same attention. Here are five unsung Cardinals heroes of 2011.
1. Yadier Molina
It was a great year for Yadi. He led the team in batting average at .305, which was a career high. He also had career highs in hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, slugging percentage and OPS and didn’t necessarily receive a lot of attention for his offensive production (which is what happens on a team with those other sluggers). And while he didn’t necessarily have the typical Yadi year throwing out those who dared to steal a base, he certainly gunned down some guys in key situations during October.
2. Kyle Lohse
Just like Yadi was an unexpected surprise to lead the 2011 Cards in batting average, the same could be said for Kyle Lohse leading the team in wins with 14. He also had career-bests in ERA at 3.39 and WHIP at 1.17, which also were tops among the Cardinal starters. His October certainly wasn’t the best — and 0-2 record and 7.82 ERA — but he played a huge role in the team actually having the chance to play in October. Plus he deserves props for this alone.
3. Jon Jay
Who led the team in games played? None other than our favorite shoe-obsessed Cardinal, Jon Jay, with 159. He also hit above .300 for much of the year, finishing with a .297 average, and hit 10 homers. Plus he’s very decent in center field … so much that the team was able to trade that other guy (what was his name again?) to Toronto for the valuable pitching help that really made a difference in September and October. And while he didn’t necessarily shine throughout October, his performance in Game 6 of the World Series allowed him to score the tying run in the 10th. Yay for Jay!
4. Jason Motte
Yes, of course, we know that Not Closer was clutch when it counted late in the season — his first save came on Aug. 28 and he finished with nine during the regular season and five in October. But he also led the relievers in appearances with 78 during the regular season, meaning he also was a valued contributor even before “the surge” began. And, obviously, he led the team in beards long before October arrived.
5. Matt Holliday
Matt Holliday’s name was heard a lot during both the regular season and October … though not always for the best reasons. Yes, it’s all familiar now: the appendectomy, the moth, the weight-lifting injury, jamming his wrist in Game 6 of the World Series, etc. And wondering about Holliday has become the popular topic this week. Yet, not surprisingly, in that Post-Dispatch piece, it’s Derrick Goold who makes the most sense:
Any critics that ignore the evidence of Holliday’s contribution to the 2011 season and fixate on the injuries or the absence from Game 7 or the misplay in 2009 need to have their skulls checked for moths.
Christine Coleman is the senior St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email email@example.com. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.