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Former Beetle Allen Craig gets huge payday

Former Alexandria Beetles player Allen Craig has gone on to be a fixture with one of the more storied franchises in Major League Baseball. Now he will be rewarded for that with a five-year contract.

Craig and the St. Louis Cardinals agreed to a contract extension last week of five years and $31 million. It's a deal that could be worth up to $43 million with the Cardinals having an option that they can pick up for the 2018 season.

Craig, 28 years old, is a career .300 hitter and has amassed 150 RBIs in 238 big-league games. He proved he could put together a complete season in 2012 by hitting .307 with 22 home runs and 92 RBIs after becoming a household name during St. Louis' run to a World Series title in 2011.

Craig has proven to be a clutch hitter over the past couple seasons. He led the majors by hitting .400 with runners in scoring position last year, despite missing the first month after recovering from off-season surgery on his right knee.

Craig was one of the biggest reasons the Cardinals were able to beat the Texas Rangers in seven games during the 2011 World Series. He had three go-ahead RBIs in the series to tie a Major League record. He also hit three home runs against the Rangers and had a leaping catch at the left-field wall to steal a home run away from Texas' Nelson Cruz in Game 7.

Craig played for the Alexandria Beetles in the Northwoods League in 2003 and 2005. He hit .362 with 12 home runs in his final summer here. Only Ben Moore has hit more home runs in a Beetles uniform after he cleared the fence 16 times on his way to winning the NWL MVP Award last year.