Cardinals Post-Season Roster History

Looking at pitcher-hitter split, between-round changes and those forgotten players who did not see playoff game action for the St. Louis Cardinals since 1996.

Regular readers here know that I am big proponent of reviewing past history to suggest what may occur in the future. While the method is not foolproof, I always feel I have a stronger position when I can point to a possible repeat of previous behavior.

 

And so it goes with the St. Louis Cardinals post-season roster construction.

 

In 2009, some of the suspense has been taken out of the basic question of pitcher-position player balance when General Manager John Mozeliak told MLB.com recently that the club is leaning toward 11 and 14, respectively, for the first round of the playoffs.

 

Still, that wasn't a big surprise given what the club has done in recent years.

 

Following is St. Louis' roster breakdown by round of the playoffs for the seven past playoff years under Tony La Russa.

 

Cardinals post-season roster construction by round since 1996 (pitchers-position players)

 

NLDS NLCS WS
2006 11-14 11-14 11-14
2005 11-14 11-14
2004 11-14 11-14 11-14
2002 12-13 12-13
2001 12-13
2000 11-14 10-15
1996 10-15 10-15

 

The first thing I am reminded is the smashing success of the Cardinals in the NLDS, with six wins in seven tries under La Russa. Impressive.

 

For the last three post-seasons, the 11 pitchers, 14 position player formula has been religiously followed. In projecting 2009, I see no reason to go against what Mozeliak said and what the club has been doing most recently.

 

Yet the split has changed a bit over the years. The 2001-2002 post-seasons are the only times the club went with 12 pitchers. Though La Russa had all those pitchers at his disposal, he never used more than ten. More on that below.

 

Back in the early days, La Russa went in the other direction, going with just ten pitchers in 1996 and 2000. Even then, he didn't use them all. Details following.

 

In any given post-season, only once between rounds did the mix change. In 2000, a pitcher was dropped between the League Division Series and League Championship Series in favor of an extra position player. Garrett Stephenson lost out in favor of third catcher Rick Wilkins.

 

However, players were swapped out between rounds two other times. Both were pitcher-pitcher exchanges.

 

Cardinals roster changes, post-season by round since 1996

 

Change NLDS-NLCS NLCS-WS
Out In Out In
2006 Marquis An Reyes
2005
2004 Kline Al Reyes
2002
2001
2000 Stephenson Wilkins
1996

 

Taking this one step further, I was interested in the number of players that did not appear in any game action. Often this is expected to be the sentence bestowed upon the second catcher, but it turns out to have happened far more often with pitchers.

 

In the table below, I decided to name each player in a small bit of recognition for their excellence in post-season bench warming that otherwise might have been lost in the annals of Cardinals history.

 

Cardinals players active but not appearing in game action, post-season since 1996

 

DNP NLDS NLCS WS
Pitcher Hitter Pitcher Hitter Pitcher Hitter
2006 Marquis Hancock Bennett
2005 King  Diaz Eldred Diaz
Marquis Luna King
Suppan
2004 Luna
Molina
2002 Hackman DiFelice Simontacchi Rolen*
Simontacchi Stephenson
Stephenson
2001 Hackman Bonilla
Tabaka
2000 An Benes Marrero
Hentgen Tatis
1996 Al Benes Sheaffer
Fossas Young
Jackson
* injured

 

Four players remained stuck to the bench for consecutive rounds – Einar Diaz and Ray King in 2005 along with Jason Simontacchi and Garrett Stephenson in 2002. Three players sat out the LDS in consecutive seasons – Jason Marquis in 2005 and 2006, Hector Luna in 2004 and 2005 and Luther Hackman in 2001 and 2002.

 

Of course, if the LDS goes four or five games, it only stands to reason that more players may appear, but on the average, three of the 25 active players do not appear in the first round.

 

By the second round, less than one player per year has not seen action. This includes an active but injured Scott Rolen in the 2002 LCS. In one World Series, 2004, everyone played, but two players did not appear during Boston's four-game sweep in 2006.

 

 

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.

 

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