Greetings. I’ve been doing a series on the best Cardinals players at each position during Bill DeWitt Jr.’s 28 seasons as the franchise owner and chairman. This covers an era that began in 1996 and continued through 2023.

Despite the team’s 71-91 crash in 2023, few MLB teams can match or exceed the Cardinals’ sustained success over the last 28 years of baseball.

Here’s what the Cardinals have accomplished in 28 seasons of DeWitt Era leadership:

The Cardinals rank fourth in the majors with 2,415 regular-season wins. Only the  Yankees, Dodgers and Braves have won more games than St. Louis.

They’ve won the most postseason games, 75, by a National League team and are second overall in MLB to the Yankees. Over the last 28 seasons the Cards have competed in the most postseason games (150) by a NL team.

DeWitt’s team is tied for third among MLB teams for most league pennants won since 1996. The Yankees have won seven pennants, followed by the Astros (5), Cardinals (4), Giants (4) and Red Sox (4).

The Cardinals are one of six teams to win multiple World Series titles since 1996. The leaderboard: Yankees 5, Red Sox 4, Giants 3, Cardinals 2, Astros 2, and Marlins 2.

To recap: I’ve made the Top 10 picks for starting pitchers and relievers – and chosen the Top 5 at catcher, first base, second base, third base, shortstop, left field and center field. Today, I’m presenting the top players in right field for St. Louis since 1996.

Here are the links to my previous rankings at each position:

Starting PitchersRelieversCatchers

First BaseSecond BaseThird Base

ShortstopLeft FieldCenter Field

The Best Right Fielders During The DeWitt Era

1. Carlos Beltran: When franchise icon Albert Pujols left the Cardinals and signed a 10-year, $240 million contract after the 2011 season, Cards general manager John Mozeliak recovered from the disappointment by pivoting to Beltran. No one could realistically replace Pujols — one of the greatest hitters in MLB history — but Beltran did an impressive job of filling the void.

Beltran — a 35-year old free agent at the time — signed a two-year contract for $26 million. It turned out to be one of the best moves of Mozeliak’s lengthy career in the St. Louis front office. In Beltran’s two years with the Cardinals, the team averaged 92.5 wins, reached the NLCS in 2012, and won the NL pennant in 2013. Beltran was chosen for the NL All-Star squad in both seasons and received MVP votes in 2012.

The aging Beltran lacked the range to play center field but he gave the Cardinals a steady presence and powerful arm in right. In his two seasons here, Beltran batted averaged 28 homers and 90 RBI. He batted .283, slugged .493, put up an .836 OPS, and performed 27 percent above league average offensively. Beltran was at his best when batting with runners in scoring position. In RISP situations as a Cardinal, Beltran batted .321 with a .406 onbase percentage and .537 slug for a .943 OPS.

Beltran was exceptional for St. Louis in the postseason. In 29 playoff games across 2012-2013, he batted .306 with a .410 OBP, .571 slug and a .982 OPS. Over the two postseasons Beltran led all MLB hitters with 21 RBI and was tied for second with five home runs. In the 29 postseason games Beltran’s offensive performance was 67 percent above league average.

Beltran thrived in big-pressure situations. Cardinals fans loved him and truly appreciated the job he did as the de facto replacement for Pujols. It wasn’t an easy role to take on but the graceful Beltran handled it beautifully. With Beltran in the lineup for two seasons, the Cardinals led the National League in runs and park-and-league adjusted runs created (wRC+) and were second in OPS. The Cardinals won a wild-card game, two NL division series, and an NLCS. Though the Redbirds lost to the Red Sox in the six-game 2013 World Series, they led the majors with 16 postseason wins over their two-year run with Beltran.

2. Lance Berkman: I previously listed Berkman among the top-five first basemen during the DeWitt Era. But Berkman’s primary position was right field, and he played 110 games in right for the 2011 World Series champion Cardinals. Mozeliak struck gold in signing Berkman to a one-year, $8 million contract before the 2011 season. Berkman signed on for a second season (2012) but a knee injury limited him to 32 games. That didn’t matter. His value to the 2011 Cardinals was a huge factor in the team’s conquest for the 11th World Series title in franchise history.

In the 2011 regular season the switch-hitting Berkman cranked 31 homers, knocked in 94 runs, generated a .959 OPS and performed 64 percent above league average offensively. Berkman led the 2011 Cardinals in wRC+ and OPS and ranked third in the NL in both categories. Only Pujols hit more homers and delivered more RBI than Berkman that season. Berkman was voted to the NL All-Star team and finished seventh in the league MVP voting.

Berkman was tremendous in the 2011 postseason, batting .313 with a .851 OPS, two homers, two doubles and 11 RBI. He was in top form during the triumphant World Series, piercing the Rangers for a .423 average, 1.093 OPS and five RBI. In the mind-bending Game 6 Berkman came up with two of the Cardinals’ four most important hits based on Win Probability. (David Freese — of course — had the other two big hits.) Berkman gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first, then kept his team alive with a critical game-tying, two-out single in the bottom of the 10th. In the thrilling Game 6, Berkman had three hits and a walk, three RBI and scored four runs. Money.

After all of his seasons as a rather despised rival with the Houston Astros, Berkman was greeted warmly by Cardinals fans. He thanked them by coming through with one of his top seasons of a 15-year MLB career.

3. Larry Walker: The 2004 Cardinals won 105 games and were a powerhouse team with an intimidating lineup that featured Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds. But general manager Walt Jocketty wasn’t content. In early August Walt  pulled off a stunning trade to acquire future Baseball Hall of Famer Larry Walker from the Rockies. Walker was 38 and nearing retirement. But he wasn’t fading. His bat was still robust.

The cost of getting Walker was … well, virtually nothing. The Cardinals gave Colorado four minor-league players, and the only notable name was lefty pitcher Chris Narveson. Jocketty also had to convince Walker — who had no-trade protection — to agree to the deal. Walker didn’t hesitate. He wanted a late-career opportunity to win a World Series. He wanted to experience the joy of playing in a passionate baseball town.

Though Walker was the best all-around player in Rockies history, Colorado was willing to move him to open up a starting job for a young 24-year old outfielder named Matt Holliday.

Walker played 144 regular-season games for the Cardinals before retiring at the conclusion of the 2005 season. It was a delight to have him in St. Louis. Walker was blown away when he received a standing ovation at the “old” Busch Stadium — after striking out! — in his first at-bat as a Cardinal.

In 545 plate appearances for the Redbirds, Walker batted .286 with a .387 OBP, .520 slug, and .908 OPS. He banged 26 homers, scored 95 runs, and knocked in  79 runners. Despite playing with a herniated disc in his neck that made it difficult to turn his head, the right fielder performed 34 percent above league average offensively (wRC+) as a Cardinal. He was still an effective baserunner who kept opposing runners in check with a fearsome right arm.

The 2004-2005 Cardinals led the majors in regular-season victories (205) and winning percentage (.633) and led the NL in runs scored, wRC+ and position-player WAR. This great team was swept by Boston in the 2004 World Series and lost a six-game NLCS to the Astros in 2005.

Walker competed in two postseasons for the Cardinals. Though he had a quiet 2005 postseason — compromised by intense pain in his neck area — Walker was fantastic in the St. Louis charge to the NL pennant in 2004. In 15 games that postseason Walker had a .707 slug, posted a 1.086 OPS, walloped 11 extra-base hits including six homers, and cashed in 11 RBI.

Walker was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020.

4. Ryan Ludwick: The Cardinals took a flyer on Ludwick before the 2007 season, signing him to a minor-league contract after Texas and Cleveland gave up on him. The moved paid off in a big way for the Redbirds. In three-plus seasons Ludwick played in 488 games and batted .280 with a .507 slug and an .857 OPS. His  showing for St. Louis rated 25 percent above league average offensively.

Ludwick’s 2008 season was among the most impressive by a Cardinals outfielder during the DeWitt Era. Here were some of the highlights:

Selected to the NL All-Star team.

Received MVP votes.

Won a Silver Slugger award.

Hit 37 homers, which was tied with teammate Albert Pujols for fifth in the majors.

Came through for 112 RBIs, second on the team to Pujols (116) and 12th overall in MLB.

His 5.3 WAR ranked 7th among MLB outfielders.

His wRC+ (151) was 51 percent above league average offensively, third among MLB outfielders and seventh-best overall that season by a major-league hitter.

While still a good player, Ludwick couldn’t match that excellent, career-peak season in 2009 or 2010. Mozeliak — addressing an obvious need for a starting pitcher — moved Ludwick to the Padres at the trade deadline in a three-team deal that brought starter Jake Westbrook to St. Louis. Westbrook had a solid run for the Cardinals and was part of the 2011 and 2013 rotations that earned two NL pennants and the 2011 World Series championship. Westbrook was the winning pitcher (in relief) for the Cardinals in the instant-classic World Series Game 6.

5. J.D. Drew: He played right field in 372 games for the Cardinals before the trade that sent him and catcher Eli Marrero to Atlanta in the deal that sent top pitching prospect Adam Wainwright to St. Louis. Drew’s finest stretch as a Cardinal lasted from 2000 through 2003. Over the four seasons he batted .290 with an .890 OPS and averaged 20 homers, 23 doubles 10 steals and 57 RBI. From 2000 through 2003 Drew’s 78 homers were third on the team behind Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds. And only Pujols, Edmonds and Scott Rolen had a higher OPS than Drew over that time.

Honorable Mention: Brian Jordan, Juan Encarnacion, Stephen Piscotty, Willie McGee, Allen Craig, Randal Grichuk, Dexter Fowler, and Dylan Carlson.

In the near future I’ll be writing up some other “Best Of” categories for the DeWitt Years in St. Louis — including best overall players (regardless of position), most underrated, most overrated, best manager, best general manager, best trades, worst trades. I need to dive into some heavy research before I get going on the next phase.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie hosts an opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. on Friday. Stream it live or access the show podcast on or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

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All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Fielding Bible, Baseball Prospectus, Bill James Online or Sports Info Solutions unless otherwise noted.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.