Top Cardinals Teams and Rookies of the Year

Jerry Modene looks at the top first-year players on the best St. Louis Cardinals teams of all time, including those who won the Rookie of the Year Award and others who could have.

In part three of our mini-series, we look at the top rookies on the Top 15 St. Louis Cardinals Teams of All-Time. Again, remember that there was no Rookie of the Year award prior to 1947, so we have to look at the Most Valuable Player Award balloting to see if any Cardinals rookies received any mention.

For those seasons, the parenthetical ranking will designate where they finished in the MVP balloting among NL rookies, not their league ranking.

Starting with our top-ranked team and working down:

1942: Stan Musial (1), Johnny Beazley (2).
1944: Ted Wilks (2).
1931: Paul Derringer (1).
1967: Dick Hughes (1 MVP, 2 ROY).
2004: No mentions on either ROY or MVP ballots.
1946: No mention on MVP ballots.
1934: Paul Dean (2).
1968: No mention on ROY or MVP ballots.
1943: Lou Klein (1) (pictured right).
1964: No mention on ROY or MVP ballots.
1926: No rookies mentioned; however if Tommy Thevenow, who had played 63 games in 1924 and 1925 combined, was considered a rookie for 1926, he would have been the top-ranked rookie that season, his first full year in the major leagues.
1982: Willie McGee (3 ROY), Dave LaPoint (7 ROY); no MVP mentions.
1985: Vince Coleman (1 ROY, top-ranked rookie in MVP voting).
2005: No ROY or MVP mentions.
2002: Jason Simontacchi (T9 ROY).

Looking at the MVP balloting prior to 1947, it's clear the Cards would have had the Rookie of the Year for three straight years (Musial in 1942, Klein in 1943, and Wilks in 1944).

Other Cards Rookies of the Year could be considered in Paul Derringer (1931) and – if we could somehow get past the fact that he had 63 games and 264 at-bats prior to 1926 – Tommy Thevenow in 1926, his first full major league season.

An oddity is that Dick Hughes (right) finished second to Tom Seaver in balloting for the Rookie of the Year award, but finished ahead of Seaver in the MVP voting in 1967. Hughes tied for 17th with 10 points; Seaver was tied for 22nd with five points.

That may have been in recognition of the fact that Hughes led the Cards with 16 wins that year (with Bob Gibson missing considerable time with his broken leg), but probably had more to do with the fact that the Mets were still a miserable last-place team in those days.

Note that Nellie Briles (right), who stepped into the rotation when Gibson was out, finished 15th in the MVP voting with 20 points, twice Hughes' total and in recognition of his key role on the 1967 pennant-winners.

Finally, the sentimental side of me is immensely gratified that I'm able to invoke the name of Jason Simontacchi in this article!

Coming up next: Top St. Louis Cardinals Teams of All Time and Gold Glove Awards. To reference our entire list of Top 15 Cardinals Teams of All-Time and read about each individual club, click here.

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