Writers and players often tab fans of the St. Louis Cardinals as the best in the land. They are a loyal bunch in supporting one of the history-rich teams in the league. Over the years players like Mark McGwire, Scott Rolen, Larry Walker, and most recently Matt Holliday have moved to the league’s heartland at various points during the middle of the season and, well, caught the Cardinal fever so to speak.
In 1997 McGwire recorded 433 plate appearances for the Oakland Athletics, hitting 34 home runs and posting a .421 wOBA. The Cardinals pulled him from the A’s hands in exchange for T.J. Matthews, Eric Ludwick, and Blake Stein. McGwire promptly did what most 33-year-old first basemen do upon being dealt mid-season; he hit 24 home runs in 224 plate appearances and held a .447 wOBA with the Cardinals. Then he’d go on to blast 135 home runs over the next two seasons. Typical production really.
Five seasons later the Cardinals would pull off another large deadline deal by acquiring one of the finer third basemen in the league. Rolen would turn up the power production during his first half-season in St. Louis, and his .361 wOBA with the Phillies that season would look pedestrian versus his .386 figure with the Cards.
Walker would actually cool down with a .411 wOBA for the Cardinals as he did have a .460 wOBA before changing teams mid-season. For his efforts Walker would win a ring and retire after an additional season. This makes him the anti-Holliday, who went from a .368 wOBA with the Athletics to a .421 wOBA through his time with the Cardinals.
Bonus points for Jim Edmonds, although he was dealt during the off-season rather than in June/July. Of course I’m not saying St. Louis ultimately helps a player perform better, this is all mostly coincidence. A pretty amusing coincidence.
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