4 Cardinals Players You Would've Never Guessed Led the Team in WAR for a Full Season

Mark Whiten
Mark Whiten led the Cardinals in WAR in 1994 | Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images

The St. Louis Cardinals have been one of the most consistent winners in the sport over the last few decades, due in large part to the presence of some game-changing sluggers like Mark McGwire and Albert Pujols. One of the organization's trademarks, however, is adding aging veterans and promoting 5-tool prospects that outplay their ceiling and contribute to a team that makes noise in the postseason. These four players came out of nowhere to become the best individual player on the Cardinals, for a year at least.

4. Bob Tewksbury (1992)

Bob Tewksbury
St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Bob Tewksbury | Focus On Sport/Getty Images

Tewksbury bounced around the majors for his late 20s and early 30s, but suddenly turned into Bob Gibson once '92 rolled around. Tewksbury put up a sparkling 2.16 ERA, making his one and only All-Star team while finishing third in Cy Young voting behind Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. That Cardinals team didn't have a ton to write home about, but Tewksbury's one amazing year was certainly worth discussing.

3. Gregg Jeffries (1993)

Gregg Jeffries
St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Gregg Jeffries | Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Jeffries broke into the majors with the New York Mets as a hot-shot 19-year-old, but fell out of favor as the Mets clubhouse turned on him. Jeffries finally started to turn into the player everyone thought he could be when he went to St. Louis. Jeffries hit .335 during his two seasons in St. Louis, including a .342 season in 1993 that finally made him an All-Star. He had a long, robust pro career, but 1993 was far and away the highlight.

2. Mark Whiten (1994)

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Mark Whiten
St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Mark Whiten | Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

1994 was such a bad season for the Cardinals that they couldn't even get to .500 with Joe Torre managing them. Their best player in terms of WAR was a "one-hit wonder" outfielder who didn't even play 100 games. In his limited time as a Cardinal, Whiten hit .293 with 14 home runs and 53 RBIs while stealing 10 bases. Whiten's two-year tenure as a Cardinal ended after that season, and his four home-run, 12 RBI game remains the biggest highlight of his individual career.

1. Carlos Martinez (2016)

Carlos Martinez
St Louis Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez | Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Before the Cardinals kept flipping Martinez between the starting rotation and the bullpen, he was one of the best young right-handers in the game. During the 2016 season, Martinez put up a 3.01 ERA while winning 16 games with a blazing fastball and mind-bending slider. The Cardinals are still holding out hope that Martinez can rediscover the form that made him a frontline starter as a young player.