- St. Louis Cardinals (1990-2001, 2004)
- San Diego Padres (2001-2002)
- NL All-Star (1997)
- Career .272 batting average with 238 home runs and 874 rbi’s
- Ranks among the Cardinals All-Time Top 10 in Home Runs (228 -5th), Total Bases (2606-9th), RBI (829-7th), Stolen Bases (250-5th), Runs (928-8th) and Games (1580-9th).
- Hit more home runs at Busch Stadium than any other player
Lankford made his major league debut in 1990, replacing Willie McGee, a former NL MVP.
In 1991, Lankford led the league with 15 triples, stole 44 bases and scored 83 runs. He also finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting and became the first Cardinal rookie to hit for the cycle.
He went on to hit .293 in 1992 with 20 home runs and 42 stolen bases. Wikipedia notes: “This season established Lankford as one of the best all-around outfielders in the game. He eventually moved down in the batting order to take further advantage of his power hitting ability.”
Lankford was a 5-time 20-20 player (home runs and stolen bases) and is the only Cardinal to accomplish this feat more than once.
In his All-Star year (1997), Lankford hit .298 with 31 home runs and 98 rbi’s, but his best season came a year later, when he hit .293 with 31 home runs, 105 rbi’s, and 26 stolen bases. Yeah, definitely a fantasy baseball all-star. (Lankford’s career stats)
His fielding skills were also top notch. He committed just one error in 1996, giving him a fielding percentage of .997. However, he did not win a Gold Glove that year, as the award was snatched up by outfielders Barry Bonds, Marquis Grissom, and Steve Finley.
Lankford is well known for hitting in front of Mark McGwire when they played together in St. Louis. Towards the end of the 1998 season, Lankford began to surge at the plate, which made it necessary for opposing teams to pitch to McGwire, aiding the slugger in his home run quest. McGwire once called Lankford the best hitting protection he had ever had in his career.
Speaking of Mark McGwire, he is well on his way to forgotten-land. He’s not ready for RFP status yet, but the dude has gone from the highest of highs to very low lows in just a few years, as evidenced by the pictures below:
Ray Lankford is also remembered for striking out a lot. He put up three of the franchise’s top seven seasons in strikeouts and his 1550 Ks is the 27th most in the history of the game. Criticism of his high strikeout rate even helped prompt a trade that sent Lankford to San Diego for pitcher Woody Williams
But he did come back in ’04
After returning to St. Louis from San Diego in 2004, Lankford earned a National League Championship ring despite not being on the Cardinals postseason roster (or in that sick poster).
As the Cardinals played their final season in Busch Stadium in 2005, Lankford was given the honor of removing the number 16 (his jersey number) from a banner counting down the final games at the stadium. He was also named to the All-Busch Stadium Team.
You can even find a Ray Lankford Fan Club online!
Lankford hit more home runs at Busch Stadium than any other player. Rob Rains at TheBirdhouse notes:
“Ask any casual Cardinal fan which St. Louis player hit the most career home runs at Busch Stadium II, and you would probably hear a lot of guesses before the correct answer was given. Ray Lankford, with 123 career home runs in the park, is the correct answer, four more than Mark McGwire. To be completely accurate, 122 of Lankford’s homers came as a Cardinal, one as a member of the San Diego Padres. He even hit a pinch-hit home run in his final major league at bat on October 3, 2004.”
Lankford never once placed in the top 15 in the National League Most Valuable Player Award voting.
On April 3rd, 1994, Lankford was the first batter of the Major League season. He jacked a home run. (box score from that game)
In 2006, the blog Beyond The Boxscore came up with the idea of creating a Hall of Fame of “Players who have no real shot at making the ACTUAL Hall of Fame”. What did they decide to name their new Hall of Fame? “The Ray Lankford Wing of the Hall of Fame” of course! Here’s the explanation:
“The Ray Lankford Wing of the Hall of Fame is a place for the “no real shot at the Hall of Fame, but a great career nonetheless” players, like Lankford. This was inspired by Lankford’s entry in the Baseball Prospectus 2005 book”
You can read more about The Ray Lankford Wing of the Hall of Fame and the Baseball Prospectus book featuring more players who have no shot at making the real Hall (like Todd Zeile) at Beyond The Boxscore.
Ray Lankford Random Forgotten Player of the Day Post #2?
In 2004 The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote an article about Ray Lankford’s Female Troubles:
A woman was arrested early Wednesday after allegedly smashing a rock through Ray Lankford’s bedroom window at his Westwood home, then punching him in the face. Lisa Rose, 32, was charged with assault and property damage…
Watch some dude imitate batting stances of current and former Cardinals players, including Ray Lankford:
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