The season is wrapping up and that means its time for discussion over who deserves each league’s postseason awards. The most talked about award for Cardinals’ fans is the National League MVP because the belief is that we have two guys who should be top candidates for the title, Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina. Now, not to disparage those two who are very good baseball players, but neither is the MVP this year in my opinion.
The award is called the Most Valuable Player. It’s not the Best Hitter Award. So what creates value in a player? There are many ways you can discuss it. Does salary factor in? How about intangibles? What are valuable statistics?
I decided to follow my favorite advice. “Keep it simple, stupid.” Value is created by winning and the only statistic that matters when it comes to winning is runs. So one of my favorite statistics to look at is what I’m now calling Total Impacted Runs (TIR). I previously called it Runs Created, but there is a sabermetric stat with the same name, so I changed it to avoid confusion. The computation is simple, Runs plus Runs Batted In minus Home Runs. So basically Total Impacted Runs determines the total number of runs you played a role in by either crossing the plate yourself or pushing a teammate across. Continue reading
It seems that pitching has been such an issue for the St. Louis Cardinals this season that when hitting has been an issue, it’s just quietly faded into the background by comparison. Between injuries and ineffectiveness, the Cardinals have had nine different rookie pitchers on their roster this season. Such has not been an issue for the offense at this point which has really seen only Matt Adams spend time on the DL this season.
Because of that, and because the Cardinals keep winning, Matt Holliday‘s start to the season has been kept out of the eye of baseball fans. But he’s struggling to start the season, so what is up with Matt Holliday?
Through June 2nd, Matt Holliday is hitting .244 over the team’s first 56 games. That is a whole 66 points lower than his career average. It is by far the worst start of his career. In now 10 major league seasons, Holliday has a batting average under .300 at the 56 game mark for just the fourth time. His previous worst was .271, which came last year, and then .272, which came in his rookie year. Continue reading
As my Dad told me last night, “I was expecting a Wild Card Game, not a wild Cards’ game.” Major League Baseball’s first Wild Card Game, certainly lived up to the wild factor. The 94 win Atlanta Braves were facing off against the 88 game St. Louis Cardinals at Turner Field on Friday evening with a National League Divisional Series berth on the line.
Facing off for the game was the Braves’ Kris Medlen (10-1, 1.57) and the Cardinals’ Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.86).
Medlen was the starter of note, because the Braves had won 23 consecutive games that Medlen had started, dating back to May 29, 2010. The streak was interrupted by Tommy John surgery and he started this season in the bullpen for the Braves.
Lohse was the quieter of the pair, despite being one of the top pitchers in the National League all season. He led the Cardinals’ rotation in ERA this year. A rotation that was the fourth best in baseball. He had also never won a playoff start going into this game, having a career postseason ERA of 5.12 in 31 2/3 innings. Last year during the Cardinals’ playoff run, he allowed 11 runs in 12 2/3 innings.
The St. Louis Cardinals just completed their series victory against the Cincinnati Reds with a 8-2 drubbing behind Adam Wainwright. Wainwright, it’s fun to realize, has a 1.73 ERA and is 6-1 in 8 starts since the All Star Break. He has once again emerged as the Cardinals’ ace and regaining his market value along with it. He’s also on pace to surpass 200 innings something he’s done in every full season he’s spent as a starting pitcher.
If you’ll remember back to the last Monday Musial I wrote on July 30th, I talked about how the 22 game stretch from July 31st to August 23rd was going to be a critical run for the Cardinals’ up into this 10 game stretch against the Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Washington Nationals. The Cardinals went 14-8 over this stretch, which is great until you realize how easily they could have been 18-4 and how that would have changed everything.
I still firmly believe that 90 wins is the golden ticket to the playoffs. Currently, the Atlanta Braves are the only team in the Wild Card hunt on pace for 90 wins. Their .567 winning percentage translates to 92 wins. For the Cardinals, their .551 translates to just shy of 90 wins (.555 is 90 wins). Continue reading
On a Tuesday afternoon where it seemed the like the St. Louis Cardinals were going to quietly let the deadline pass them by without doing anything to shore up the team, they didn’t. The Cardinals announced that they acquired RHP Edward Mujica for minor league 3B Zack Cox.
My knee-jerk reaction to the trade was “Is that all they could get for Cox?” After all, I saw a Mujica who had a 4.38 ERA in nearly 40 innings this season.
However, when I dug into Mujica’s numbers further, I found a pitcher that has me thinking this could really be the trade that solidifies that bullpen and helps stabilize this team going forward. Something to realize is that the new Marlins Ballpark in Miami is quite the hitter’s park. According to Baseball References’ Park Factor, Marlins Ballpark scores a 106 for hitters and a 107 for pitchers this year. Over 100 favors the hitter. Meanwhile, Mujica will move into a Busch Stadium that has multi-year Park Factors of 99 for hitters and 98 for pitchers. A far more neutral stadium. That should help greatly. Continue reading
Here the Cardinals’ sit today, 7.5 games back in the NL Central with a 54-48 record after 102 games. After 102 games last year they were tied for the division lead with a 54-48 record.
Over the last 10 years, a team has needed 90 wins to get a Wild Card in the National League. That means over the last 60 games of the season that start Tuesday against Colorado, the team needs to go 36-24, that’s .600 baseball. Still doable without going on some crazy run.
When you look at the schedule and Home/Road splits for teams, we don’t play a team with a winning record where we’re playing them until we go to Cincinnati and then to Pittsburgh starting August 24th. That means the next 24 days are absolutely crucial for the Cardinals if they intend to make the playoffs.
If the Cardinals and the other teams continue to play at the same winning %s, the Cardinals will likely go 32-28 the rest of the way. But ladies and gentlemen, that’s why we call it baseball. From August 24th to September 2nd we have a 10 game road trip where we play Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Washington. That will be the season.
Something that’s also fun to think about is that the Cardinals host the Reds in the final series of the season in Busch Stadium. How epic would it be to rob them of the division on the final day of the season? Continue reading