The St. Louis Cardinals 2006 season was the team's 125th season in St. Louis, Missouri and the 115th season in the National League. The season started out with a bang, as the team raced out to a 31-16 record by late May. Momentum would be slowed by injuries, as starting pitcher Mark Mulder was lost for the year, while center fielder Jim Edmonds and shortstop David Eckstein missed large amounts of playing time in the second half. Poor performance from several key players also hampered the team: starting pitcher Jason Marquis compiled a 6.02 ERA, starting pitcher Sidney Ponson was cut due to ineffectiveness, closer Jason Isringhausen blew ten saves before undergoing season-ending hip surgery in September, and catcher Yadier Molina had a poor offensive year, batting .216.
All this led to a difficult season, despite that quick start, one that included two eight-game losing streaks (the longest such streaks for the franchise since 1988) and a seven-game losing streak, losing months in June, August and September, and an 83-78 record, the worst for the Cardinals since the 1999 team finished 75-86. However, that record was still good enough to finish first in a weak National League Central. On the season's final day, the Cardinals made the playoffs for the sixth time in the last seven seasons,edging the second-place Houston Astros by a game and a half. No other team in the division finished with a winning record. Once the playoffs began, the lightly regarded Cardinals surprised baseball fans everywhere by beating the San Diego Padres in the four-game Division Series, beating the New York Mets in the seven-game NLCS, and beating the Detroit Tigers in the 2006 World Series four games to one, winning the tenth, and probably most unlikely, World Series championship in franchise history. Their .516 winning percentage is the lowest ever for a World Series champion. This season ironically contrasted with 2004 in that that team was considered overwhelming favorites but were swept in the World Series, resulting in a bittersweet three-year period for the Cardinals.