Last week, for the first time ever on The Cooperstown case, we delved into the career of an active player. That player was Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. This week, we’ll be once again looking into the career of an active player on the Cardinals.
Wainwright has been the ace of the Cardinals pitching rotation for years, but he wasn’t always in that position.
Originally, the Atlanta Braves selected him 29th overall in the first round of the 2000 MLB draft, He chose to go straight to the pros instead of going to college. In 2003, he was ranked as the top prospect in the Braves organization. Later that year, he joined the Cardinals organization.
He made his MLB debut for St. Louis on September 11, 2005, but wouldn’t get significant playing time until 2006.
During the 2006 season, after closer Jason Isringhausen suffered an injury, Wainwright shifted from a middle-reliever role to the role of closer. This move proved pivotal to the success of the 2006 World Series team. Notable moments include:
- On October 8, 2006, he closed out the final game of the Cardinals’ National League Division Series, ending the Padres’ season as the Cardinals advanced to the 2006 NLCS.
- On October 19, 2006, in the final game of the National League Championship Series, Wainwright, with the bases loaded, struck out future teammate Carlos Beltrán looking on a now-legendary curveball, ending the Mets’ season and sending the Cardinals to the World Series.
- On October 27, 2006, in Game 5 of the 2006 World Series, Wainwright struck out the Tigers’ Brandon Inge to clinch the World Series.
After 2007, Wainwright moved to the starting role, where he has remained ever since. In his career as a starting pitcher thus far, he has composed a record of 132-75 in 257 games. He also has a 3.16 ERA and 1415 strikeouts. Bonus stats to note are his 22 complete games, with ten of them being shutouts.
But what makes Wainwright a versatile athlete is his performance at the plate as well. He’s hit eight home runs and notched 57 RBI’s, along with 32 doubles and two triples. His career batting average is .199, interestingly enough one of the top among active starters in baseball.
Currently, he’s 35 years old and is surely nearing the twilight of his career, where he will be taking more of a mentor role to pitchers such as Alex Reyes and Carlos Martinez. But he’s still an important figure in the Cardinals’ rotation and organization.
So does Wainwright deserve a future look for Cooperstown?
Feel free to discuss below and share your opinions, and be sure to tune in next week for yet another edition of The Cooperstown case.