Cards All-Time Top 40 – Willie McGee #23

The Top 40 countdown of the greatest St. Louis Cardinals of all time continues with their Most Valuable Player from 1985, outfielder Willie McGee.

Willie Dean McGee

The Basics




Total Yrs

Yrs in StL









1982-90, 96-99 





The Awards

Hall of Fame

Retired #

World Champ



Cy Young

Gold Glove








Note: All stats and awards listed are for years as a Cardinal only.
McGee's career stats available from

Voter Comments

Rob Rains (20): If this top 40 ranking was merely a popularity contest, McGee's name would be much higher on the list. He was one of those unique players who won over the Cardinals' fans when he immediately burst on the scene in 1982, and remained there forever as one of the key performers in the Whiteyball era.

Of course McGee also had some talent to go along with his personality, and that didn't hurt either. Only seven players in history played in more Cardinal games than McGee, and all but one of them -- Ken Boyer -- is in the Hall of Fame.

On a list of the all-time greatest trades in Cardinals history, the deal with the Yankees bringing McGee to the Cardinals for Bob Sykes ranks right behind the Broglio-for-Brock deal.

Jerry Modene (23): Possibly the most popular Cardinal of the past twenty years, it seems as if the fans didn't really appreciate "ET" until he was traded in August of 1990, in the midst of his second batting championship, and the fans wanted to make it up to him when he finally returned in 1996.

For what it's worth, McGee was nearly as popular in San Francisco as he was in St. Louis; I can remember Giants' fans at Candlestick in a September 1996 game giving Willie standing ovations every time he came up to bat in that game.

Willie is no Hall of Famer, but he was a solid defensive outfielder and a good slap hitter in the mold of Matty Alou; he was the sort of guy who would look horrible on a swing-and-a-miss and then rattle a line drive into the gap for two or three bases. His 104 RBI season in 1987 was almost as out-of-character as Tommy Herr's 110 RBI season in 1985; nevertheless, it was McGee at .353 who won the MVP that 1985 season.

Ray Mileur (22): The St. Louis love affair with Willie McGee began in his rookie season when he hit .296, stole 24 bases and played a solid center field to help St. Louis make it to the postseason for the first time since the 1960s.

The National League MVP in 1985, McGee hit an amazing .353 and led the league with 18 triples and 216 hits. McGee won two batting titles, 1985 and 1990, with batting averages of .353 and .335 respectively.

Traded to Oakland during the 1990 season just prior to the trade deadline, McGee became the first player ever to win a batting title in one league while playing in another.

In 1996, McGee returned to St. Louis for two seasons as a reserve/role player. I must have been part of about 100 standing ovations for this guy, one of the most popular players in Cardinal history.

Brian Walton (26): As much as I have been against the retirement of the Cardinals number 51, it is not because of McGee himself, but instead due to the other former players who history indicates were even greater than he but were not awarded the recognition, either. You will see those names in this countdown over the upcoming days.

On the other hand, no one can dispute the fact that McGee is one of the most admired Cardinals in recent decades, enjoying a curtain call that essentially lasted four seasons, from 1996 through 1999. In fact, one could argue it continues even today.

That means hundreds of thousands of Cardinals fans have voted over and over again in favor of Willie McGee's inclusion on this list. I am hereby delighted to do my small part to oblige.

Voter Comments Key: Voter (Individual Ranking); NR = Not Rated

Master List: To see our entire list of the greatest 40 Cardinals players of all-time as they are unveiled daily, click here.

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