BERKELEY – Allen Craig was not able to wield his magic and lead the St. Louis Cardinals to another World Series title, yet the former Golden Bear baseball slugger had possibly the greatest season of any former Cal baseball player since Jeff Kent was named the 2000 National League MVP for the San Francisco Giants.
The St. Louis first baseman, who was a standout shortstop/outfielder at Cal from 2003-06, finished the 2013 MLB campaign batting .315 with 13 home runs and 97 RBI. What is even more impressive is that Craig led all of Major League Baseball with a .454 average with runners in scoring position, the third highest WRISP average since 1974.
Craig had been out since Sept. 4 after spraining his left foot in Cincinnati, returning in time (Oct. 23) for the World Series against Boston. In the Fall Classic, he got hits in five of the six games (6-for-16, double), including scoring the winning run in Game Three when Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks inadvertently tripped Craig and was called for interference, giving St. Louis a 5-4 win. Craig had hit a pinch-hit double in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game Three to set up the winning run.
Even before helping the Cardinals to another World Series run, Craig had joined an elite group of Bears when on July 16 at Citi Field in New York he became only the fifth Cal baseball player to compete in a Major League All-Star Game.
“Congratulations to Allen on a great year,” said Cal baseball coach David Esquer, who mentored Craig for four seasons in Berkeley. “I know the whole Cal baseball family is proud of him and in honored that he represents us. He really has had an amazing professional career.”
Craig’s name is now etched among other Bear greats who went on to play in the MLB All-Star Game. The first Cal player to go on to be a Big League All-Star was outfielder Sam Chapman (1935-37), who competed in the 1946 All-Star Game for the Philadelphia Athletics. Legendary Jackie Jensen (1947-49) competed in three All-Star Games as an outfielder – in 1952 for the Washington Senators and in 1955 and 1958 for the Boston Red Sox.
Talented right-hander Andy Messerschmidt (1965-66) played in four All-Star Games – in 1971 for the California Angels, in 1974 and 1975 for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and in 1976 for the Atlanta Braves. The most recent Bear to play in the All-Star Game was second baseman Kent, who was an All-Star with the San Francisco Giants from 1999-2001, an All-Star with Houston in 2004 and with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2005.
Now in his fourth year as a Major Leaguer, Craig has a career average of .306 with 50 home runs and 247 RBI in 372 games.
In the same year (2011) Esquer’s Cal baseball team made it to the College World Series, Craig made it to the Fall Classic, where he was instrumental in the Cardinals' series clinching 6-2 win over Texas.
Craig hit his third home run of the 2011 series to give St. Louis a 3-2 lead in the third inning. He then robbed Nelson Cruz of a home run in the sixth inning with a leaping catch over the left field fence. Finally, Craig had the honor of catching the final out of the game in left field to give the Cardinals their 11th World Series title.
An eighth round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2006 draft, Craig batted a team-best .344 with a team-high 76 hits, 39 runs, 15 doubles and 11 home runs that spring for Cal. He was honorable mention All-Pac-10 in both 2005 and 2006; and for his college career had a .308 average with 48 doubles, a triple, 27 home runs and 107 RBI in 192 games.