Who would have ever thought that Mark McGwire and John Mabry would make for a great combination long after their playing days?

Who would have ever thought that Mark McGwire and John Mabry would make for a great combination long after their playing days?


Both were primarily first basemen in St. Louis, but at the plate they were two dominant hitters with two different styles — styles that are working quite well for the current Cardinals as they’re doing a stellar job defending their 2011 world championship.


Mabry was lefty with a true swing that supplied many of contact hits and number of hard drives. He was always direct, almost always hit line drive bullets and could really send the ball out of the ballpark when he got ahold of one.


McGwire, well everyone knows what he did, but it still took talent. He swung not only with power, but with a lift that was really his benefit at the plate. Jeff Bagwell of the Astros was the same way — he had a similar stance.


These two former Cardinals, now coaching for St. Louis, really do complement each other.


McGwire, I think, had some trouble with a majority of the players because of his hitting style. That’s why we saw early hitting struggles from Colby Rasmus last year before he was traded to Toronto and that’s why Jon Jay had some struggles later in the year when he tried to incorporate a lift into his swing which did not work. It was obvious in the postseason at times, Jay had a form in his swing which was more of an attempt for homers than straight through swing which would have resulted in singles or extra base hits.


With Mabry working as McGwire’s assistant hitting coach, players who are direct, contact hitters like Daniel Descalso and David Freese can have more consistency with clutch hitting and not worry with having a swing that looks like they’re swinging for the fences. Meanwhile, McGwire can work with guys like Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran and Lance Berkman, who’ve established well-constructed lifts in their swings to keep them on a consistent power hitting spree.


This is really the best combination of hitters the Cardinals have had in a long time, probably since 1996 when the Cardinals made the playoffs for the first time since 1987. They have hitters who are direct and get on base and they have a lot of power. Doesn’t matter which starting lineup Mike Matheny wants to use either, he’s always going to have the right group of guys to get the job done — and a part of that credit goes to the front office for putting together a productive farm system.


But if I had to pick two former Cardinals to come in, create and work with this kind of lineup, Mabry and McGwire are the guys.


Dominic Genetti writes for the Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post.