By Kelly Rouse
(The Cardinal Nation Show) -- As the St. Louis Cardinals prepare to return to Detroit tonight, Cardinals fans can't help but to think back to the 2006 World Series in which the Cardinals took the title in five games. In the past five seasons, the team has changed tremendously.
Only four players who played in the 2006 World Series remain on the Cardinals' roster: Yadier Molina, Skip Schumaker, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. Not only has the team changed, but the remaining players have continued to evolve and play exceptionally well for the Cardinals since 2006.
Molina is considered one of the best defensive catchers in the major league, throwing out an estimated 40% of runners. He has led the leagues catchers with 36 pickoffs and a 39 stolen base percentage since 2005. The three-time All-Star has received numerous awards, including the Rawlings Golden Glove Award for four consecutive years (2008-2011). Also, he received the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award in 2011, naming him to be the top defensive player in the National League.
Not only has Molina excelled at his position defensively, but he has grown to become a great offensive threat as well. Last season Molina ranked eighth in the National League and led the Cardinals with a .308 average. Currently, Molina is leading the Cardinals batting .326.
While Molina has been climbing the batting rankings this season, second baseman Skip Schumaker was just released off the disabled list to play in Detroit tonight. Schumaker has been a solid player for the Cardinals since the 2006 season and has become one of the most respected players in the clubhouse. He nearly doubled his .186 BA from 2006 to a .283 BA in 2011. In the 2012 season, he currently is batting 321 .
Since 2006, pitchers Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright have continued to play well for the Cardinals. Carpenter has been a model of consistency throughout these past six seasons. One of Carpenter's most memorable games in 2006 was Game 3 of the World Series against the Tigers. He pitched eight innings and allowed no runs. But that wasn't the end of Carpenter's success in a World Series. In 2011, Carpenter pitched six innings in Game 7 against the Texas Rangers, powering the Cardinals to a 6-2 win.
2010 All-Star Adam Wainwright, began his career for the Cardinals as a relief pitcher in 2006. As a rookie, Wainwright immediately solidified his value to the Cardinals roster. In Game 5 of the 2006 World Series, he struck out Brandon Inge to win the championship. As a second-year player in 2007, Wainwright had already earned himself a place on the starting rotation for the Cardinals and has continued to evolve into one of the best starting pitchers in baseball. In 2009, Wainwright earned the Rawlings Golden Glove Award, and in 2010 was the runner-up for the Cy Young Award. Wainwright is 5-4 with a 3.60 ERA this season.
With two World Series championships under their belts, these players have proved themselves not only to be valuable players on the Cardinals roster, but they are and continue to be leaders on and off the field.