From Ted Simmons to Allen Craig, the Cardinals have featured an impressive number of productive hitters in the last 38 years. But no Cardinal in that stretch hit better with runners in scoring position in a season than Dane Iorg.
Iorg hit .441 (26-for-59) with runners in scoring position for the 1981 Cardinals. Since Major League Baseball made the statistic official in 1974, Iorg has the highest single-season batting average with runners in scoring position of any St. Louis player, according to the Cardinals.
This year, through Sept. 13, Craig leads the National League in batting average with runners in scoring position at .390 (41-for-105). Still, he’s no threat to surpass Iorg this season.
(Updated Oct. 4: Craig batted .400, 50-for-125, with runners in scoring position).
Iorg, 31, was in his fifth year with the Cardinals in 1981. Though he had hit well since being acquired from the Phillies in 1977, Iorg didn’t get much regular playing time until Whitey Herzog became manager in June 1980.
Herzog platooned Iorg and Sixto Lezcano in left field in 1981. Iorg batted left-handed and Lezcano batted right-handed. Iorg responded in the strike-shortened season. He batted .327 overall in 75 games, striking out just nine times in 217 at-bats. Against right-handed pitching, Iorg hit .349 (66-for-189) that year.
“I got tired of watching .220 hitters running out there and me watching from the bench,” Iorg said to The Sporting News. “At least Whitey Herzog knows what I can do.”
Iorg was at his best in the clutch. He averaged better than one run batted in every six at-bats in 1981, The Sporting News reported. He struck out only three times with runners in scoring position that year.
“I would rather hit with men on base,” Iorg told St. Louis reporter Rick Hummel. “I think it lends some excitement when people are there who can score.”
In a 10-year big-league career, Iorg hit .310 with runners in scoring position.
According to the Cardinals, here are the top five single-season batting averages with runners in scoring position by St. Louis players since 1974:
_ Dane Iorg, .441, 1981.
_ Brian Jordan, .422, 1996.
_ So Taguchi, .407, 2005.
_ Pedro Guerrero, .400, 1989. (With his .400 mark in 2012, Craig tied Guerrero)
_ Albert Pujols, .397, 2006.