Recreating the 1985 Cardinals

Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Vince Coleman

I read an article recently when one of the reporters who covers the Padres said of Petco Park, “They’re going about this all wrong. I would have hung up posters of the 1985 Cardinals and you would have watched this place light up.”

Easier said than done. Baseball has changed so much that recreating the speed first offense those Redbirds employed would be difficult. However, I think I can get pretty close with today’s players. I’m going to do it like movie casting.

As Ozzie Smith, Andrelton Simmons

Andrelton and the Wizard look quite a bit different. Simmons is 6-2 while Ozzie is (generously) listed at 5-10. Their body types are certainly different with Andrelton being more lanky.

I’m also not sure if Simmons will turn into the hitter Ozzie was. Despite his light-hitting reputation, Ozzie was actually pretty good with the bat in 1985. He hit .276, 148 hits, a .355 on base, 31 stolen bags and he even had six home runs.

But the only thing that matters in this comparison is that the only current player right now that can hold a candle to Ozzie’s defensive sorcery is Andrelton Simmons.

“Go Crazy Folks, Go Crazy.”

As Vince Coleman, Billy Hamilton
MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Houston Astros

Jonah Keri wrote at the beginning of the season that he thought Billy Hamilton had a chance to steal 100 bases. He has 41 right now in his rookie season (incredible in this age) but he’s probably not getting to 100.

Coleman was a rookie in 1985 and is one of the last guys to swipe 100 bags with 110 in 1985. He just happened to do it in three consecutive seasons. Still the only player with comparable speed is Hamilton; it’s an added bonus that Hamilton probably fields and hits better.

As Willie McGee, Bryce Harper
MLB: Washington Nationals at San Diego Padres
Willie McGee

Some might call this sacrilege and this was the hardest one to replicate. Willie McGee was out of his mind in 1985. He won the MVP, hit .353 with 216 hits, 56 stolen bases, 114 runs and 84 RBI. I don’t know if anyone can have a season like that ever again.

I’m going with potential, substituting some power for speed and average, but Harper may be capable. Now, he’s never hit above .300. This is also about the energy they brought to the park. Willie McGee is still beloved by Cardinal fans and that is as much about his attitude as his play. I think Harper could be like that with the Nationals.

As Andy Van Slyke, Scott Van Slyke

Well, this one is kind of obvious. I’m pretty sure Scott has a game similar to his old man.

As Jack Clark, Allen Craig

I’m tossing out the season-from-Hell Craig is experiencing this year as an outlier (fingers crossed). My old boss, and part-time Cardinals scholar, Scott Faughn compared these two at the beginning of the season.

They’re both professional hitters who prefer average to power.

Clark in 1985: .284 average, 22 home runs, 87 RBI, 71 runs, 124 hits, .393 on base, .502 slugging.
Craig in 2013: .315 average, 13 home runs, 97 RBI, 71 runs, 160 hits, .373 on base, .457 slugging.

As Terry Pendleton, David Wright
David Wright

Terry Pendleton actually sucked in 1985, hitting only .240 and was a pretty streaky hitter year to year in his career. So Wright is a considerable upgrade, one of the most underrated players of his generation. He hits .300 pretty much every year and you get very solid glove work at the hot corner.

As Tom Herr, Ben Zobrist

This is probably a slight downgrade because Herr hit .302, 110 RBI, and 97 runs. Zobrist’s best season he hit .297, 91 RBI and 91 runs and he really hasn’t been that good again.

Whatever, Zobrist is one of my favorite non-Cardinals right now and his versatility is unmatched. Hell you put him in this lineup and maybe he has a historic offensive season.

As Tom Nieto, any good defensive catcher, let’s say … Miguel Montero
Miguel Montero

Really it doesn’t matter. This is one of the places where you can save money in roster building.


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