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DeWitt with World Series trophy

Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. hoists the World Series trophy at the victory parade down Market Street in 2011. (Chris Lee photo / Post-Dispatch)

Forbes is out with its annual report that estimates the value of each of the 30 major-league baseball franchises.

And the Cardinals, as you might imagine, are healthy and thriving under team owner Bill DeWitt Jr. 

According to Forbes the Cardinals are MLB's most profitable franchise, with an operating income of $73.6 million. (Operating income is defined as earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.) 

The Cardinals rank 6th in revenue, at $294 million. 

The Cardinals' franchise value of $1.4 billion is No. 6 on the list of 30, exceeded only by five large-market franchises: the NY Yankees ($3.2 billion), LA Dodgers ($2.4 billion), Boston ($2.1 billion), San Francisco ($2 billion and Chicago Cubs ($1.4 billion). 

"The St. Louis Cardinals are baseball’s biggest anomaly," Forbes wrote. "Despite playing in one of the smallest markets, the Cardinals are MLB’s sixth-most valuable team, worth $1.4 billion. During the 19 seasons Bill DeWitt has owned them, the Cardinals have posted a winning record 16 times and have been in four World Series, winning the title in 2011 and 2006. Since moving into their new stadium in 2006 the team has never finished below sixth in attendance and has placed second the past two seasons. The Cardinals also pull in baseball’s highest local television ratings. And with Ballpark Village, the Cardinals have made the area near Busch Stadium a destination place for people looking for dining and entertainment." 

The Cardinals have a higher franchise value than the St. Louis Rams, who were valued at $930 million by Forbes last season. 

That's no surprise given the Cardinals' committed local ownership, community-minded approach, and an impressive, enduring history of on-field success. That's resulted in loyal fan support of more than 3 million annually. 

The Cardinals' success presents a stark contrast to the Rams, who have been one of the NFL's most poorly run and franchises for more than a decade, with only one NFL team (Raiders) winning fewer games since 2004.  

The Cardinals' $1.4 billion value reaffirms that intelligent, quality, hands-on ownership and a legitimate commitment to winning championships can make a huge difference in a medium market. 

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Bernie Miklasz is a sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.