St. Louis’ sustained success deserves praise

The ‘Fall Classic’ starts tonight, and it should come as a surprise to no one that the St. Louis Cardinals are once again representing the National League.

The Cardinals have become the model franchise in baseball over the past decade and a half, despite a lack of attention to the franchise.

Since 2000, St. Louis has made 11 postseason appearances, including eight divisional titles. In that same timeframe, the Cardinals have won four NL pennants and two World Series championships, and they are in line to possibly win their third in seven years this month.

So why don’t they get the credit they deserve?

In a time when baseball has become a race to spend the most money and to have the highest-paid players, the Cardinals have built from within.

This year’s 25-man World Series roster features 17 players that were drafted and developed by St. Louis.

Of the eight players that were acquired via trade or free agent signing, one (Carlos Martinez) was an international signing, and two (Adam Wainwright and David Freese) were acquired before they had played a game in the majors.

What’s more, is that 17 players on the team’s World Series roster make less than $2 million per season, and 13 players make less than $ 1 million a year.

The Cardinals have become renowned for drafting and developing quality baseball players, and it has shown in the team’s results.

Still, St. Louis gets hardly any credit for its unprecedented success.

Take the Cardinals’ opponent, the Boston Red Sox, as an example. The Red Sox were once praised as the model franchise in Major League Baseball. In the 2000s, they drafted well, developed and kept their stars, and supplemented with savvy free agent acquisitions.

Of the 25 players on the Red Sox’ World Series roster this year, only nine of them were drafted and developed by the franchise. That’s a pretty decent amount, but compared to 17 Cardinals players that were drafted by the team, nine seems like a pittance.

Boston was lauded for its ability to build from within in the 2000s, and many people pointed to this as the reason the Red Sox were able to win two World Series championships.

The Cardinals have won two World Series titles since 2006, yet nobody seems to notice that they have done it almost exclusively thanks to their ability to draft and develop young talent.

St. Louis deserves to be thought of as the model franchise in baseball. For that matter, they deserve to be known as the model franchise for any sport.

In its Sept. 30, 2013 “Franchise Issue,” ESPN The Magazine ranked every franchise in the four major sports. The Memphis Grizzlies, for some reason beyond my comprehension, were awarded the top spot.

The Cardinals, who have been the picture of stability and success over the past two decades, came in 12th. They were the third-highest rated baseball franchise, coming in just behind Cincinnati, and six spots behind the Arizona Diamondbacks. Yes, that’s right, the Diamondbacks.

It’s time for St. Louis to get the credit it deserves. The franchise has won the fourth-most pennants, and the second-most World Series titles in MLB history. The team has done it on a smaller budget and in a smaller market than teams like the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Cardinals deserve some credit.

Maybe this year will finally be the year that fans realize that St. Louis is a dynasty, and hopefully the team might finally get the respect it deserves.