photo: Memphis Redbirds
At no. 8 in our annual countdown of the Cardinals top 10 stories of 2018 is the second of two which are minor league-focused.
While the Los Angeles Dodgers won two consecutive league championships in 2017 and 2018, the last time an MLB team was able to do that and win at least one World Series was the 2014-2015 Kansas City Royals.
The Redbirds finished their historic two-year run with a 2018 regular season record of 83-57, good for an 11-game divisional advantage. This is one year after going 91-50. The combined win total of 174 marks the most a Memphis club has accrued in any two-year stretch since 1933-34.
Fueled by a 7-2 post-season mark, the Redbirds captured the second of back-to-back Pacific Coast League titles for the first time in franchise history. They capped it off with a win in their Triple-A National Championship rematch with Durham of the International League.
Roster turnover during the season was very high, reflecting St. Louis’ needs, yet the Redbirds kept winning. Specifically, the 221 transactions established a new franchise record, obliterating the previous high of 160, set in 2016. Most prominent was the entire opening rotation of Jack Flaherty, Austin Gomber, John Gant, Daniel Poncedeleon and Dakota Hudson being promoted to the majors.
A franchise-record 66 different players appeared on Memphis’ roster. Only three from 2017 were still there at the close of 2018. From Memphis’ 25-man Opening Day roster in 2018, only nine players remained by the end.
Individual standouts included Dakota Hudson, Daniel Poncedeleon and Patrick Wisdom, all named to the PCL All-Star Game, which Hudson started. On the exclusive PCL post-season All-Star Team was outfielder Tyler O’Neill and Hudson, who was selected the league’s Pitcher of the Year. Two relative newcomers – infielder Tommy Edman and outfielder Randy Arozarena – were named co-MVPs of the PCL Playoffs.
Presiding over all of this was former team star second baseman, Memphis resident and fan favorite Stubby Clapp, who became a two-time PCL Manager of the Year, and consecutive winner of The Cardinal Nation’s system-wide Manager of the Year award. Following being connected to MLB managerial openings in Toronto and Texas, Clapp was promoted to St. Louis’ first base coaching job for 2019.
It was a historic run for Clapp and his Redbirds, the likes of which may not be seen again for a long time.
The Cardinal Nation’s top 10 stories of the year countdown
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