We wrap up our look at the best seasons by teams in the NL Central with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals, like multiple other teams in this division, have a long and storied history in Major League Baseball. Unlike the other NL Central teams, the Cardinals have been more successful.
St. Louis has the second-most World Series wins in MLB with 11 championships. That made it a little difficult to determine which of those seasons was the best in franchise history, but the decision came down to two seasons.
The Cardinals' two winningest seasons were 1942 and 1944, in which they won 106 and 105 games, respectively. They also won the World Series in both seasons, so either could have been selected as the best season in team history.
The selection came down to one player: Stan the Man Musial.
Musial played his first full season for the Cardinals in 1942, but it was 1943 when he started to become the legend that he is today. His 1943 season included his first of 24 All-Star selections and first of three NL MVP awards.
He followed that up with another MVP-worthy performance, batting .347/.440/.549 with 12 home runs and 94 RBIs in 1944. He led the league in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, hits and doubles. Musial earned his second All-Star appearance and placed fourth in MVP voting. (He should have won the award, but that's a whole other story.)
His 1944 season was one of his best, but he wasn't the only one. The entire Cardinals team played better in 1944 than 1942. If you compare the two seasons, the Cardinals had a higher batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in 1944. The team hit 100 home runs in 1944 compared to 60 in 1942.
The Cardinals had six members selected to the All-Star game in each season. The 1944 Cardinals received more awards recognition, however, with four players finishing in the top 10 of MVP voting. While I personally think Musial had a fantastic season and should have won the 1944 MVP, the award ultimately went to his teammate Marty Marion, who batted .267/.324/.362 with six home runs and 63 RBIs. (See what I mean? How did Musial lose out on the award to Marion? Musial's batting average was almost as high as Marion's slugging percentage.)
Along with those two, Walker Cooper and Mort Cooper also finished in the top 10 of MVP voting.
The Cardinals finished the season 105-49 and with 16 more wins than the next-best team, who happened to be the St. Louis Browns. In the all St. Louis World Series, the Cardinals prevailed 4-2, giving Musial his second of three World Series championships and cementing that year as the team's best in franchise history.