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Rick Ankiel's Arm

by dvaughn

KMOV.com

Posted on May 7, 2008 at 2:24 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 3:28 PM

Rick Ankiel's throws from centerfield to nail two Colorado Rockies baserunners begs the question as to whether Ankiel has the strongest arm in the history of Cardinal baseball. My memory goes back to the early 60's, so if I slight any players who wore the Birds on bat before that time I apologize.

Clearly Ankiel's outfield arm is the strongest we've seen in recent years. His two throws in Colorado even left his teammates wide-eyed in amazement. There isn't a wiseacre in town who can't keep from saying, "how come he can throw a perfect strike from 250 feet away, but couldn't hit the broad side of a barn when he was pitching?" Obviously it's all mental with Ankiel. When he doesn't have time to think about throwing he has no problem. Those throws against the Rockies will be seen by every player in the major leagues. That should keep them from trying to stretch another base in future games when Ankiel is out there with his rifle cocked.

Ankiel's arm is stronger than Jim Edmond's in centerfield, but nobody was any more accurate than Edmonds. During his time in St. Louis, Edmonds made dozens of throws to third base and to the plate that were perfect one hop bounces right on target. We need to see Ankiel throw out more runners before we can say he's better at it than Edmonds, but for arm strength alone Ankiel gets the nod against Super Jimmy.

There have been other Cardinal outfielders who deserve to be in the discussion. Mark Whiten had a gun in rightfield. He threw with a bit of an unorthodox motion, almost appeared to be short-arming the ball. But Whiten's arm strength was on par with Ankiel's. Larry Walker had a great arm in right. So did Andy Van Slyke, and a decade before him there was Reggie Smith. It's very possible though, that the best outfield arm in Cardinal history belonged to a man who was at the game in Colorado and saw Ankiel's throws in person... Mike Shannon. Shannon came up as a rightfielder and could throw the ball as hard as anybody in baseball at that time. As a football quarterback they called him "Shannon the Cannon". He was moved from rightfield to third base rather early in his career, so he really didn't get a chance to make a lot of eye-popping throws from the outfield. But make no mistake about it, Shannon could throw a baseball a loooong way on the line. So can Rick Ankiel. Thankfully, as a lefty, Ankiel's not likely to be moved to third base anytime soon.

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