5 St. Louis Cardinal Stats That Will Win Them The World Series
Stats To Watch This Postseason: St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals have arguably the deepest roster in the big leagues, something that allows them to win games in a variety of ways. With the San Francisco Giants out of the picture, the Cardinals are the most recent World Series champion in the field, making them the hunted team in the National League. While you’d assume that would mean that this roster has loads of big-game experience, it really doesn’t. The coaching staff is completely different, but the grind-it-out strategy is still there and has proven to be quite effective.
Who would have thought this is where we’d be? Just two years after losing the player we all felt was a once-in-a-generation talent in Albert Pujols, St. Louis’ offense looks as potent as ever. From top to bottom, they battle an opposing pitcher, put runners on base, and drive them in. They are the third-highest scoring offense in all of baseball and have a very underrated pitching staff. One thing that St. Louis does as good as any team in the big leagues is playing to their strengths. But will this new coaching staff have what it takes to lead a talented team to the promise land? The bullpen is a big question mark, but is it a big enough flaw to prevent them from playing in the season’s final game?
The following slides detail five statistics that have been accumulated all season long and will play a big role in if the Red Birds can make an extended run through the month of October.
5. Wild Pitches
Yadier Molina is a great hitter, but his NL MVP candidacy has as much to do with his elite defensive skills, allowing his pitching staff to feel comfortable at all times. As a result, the St. Louis Cardinals' pitching staff uncorked only 33 wild pitches all season long, not only the lowest number in all of baseball, but 23.2 percent lower than the next playoff team. Not giving away an extra base is huge, but a pitching staff with the confidence to throw any pitch in any situation is key to keeping opposing batters off balance. Other teams have better pitching rotations than the Cardinals, but no team has a defensive catcher like Molina, something that should allow the pitching staff to perform at a high level this postseason.
4. Slugging Percentage
Chicks may dig the long ball, but stat heads will tell you it takes more than power to win a world championship.
The Cardinals make both camps happy by rostering six players with a slugging percentage of at least .457 that also own a batting average of at least .285 (with half the batters hitting at least .315). This reflects the Cardinals' ability to take advantage of mistakes and deposit them into the bleachers, but also their unique ability to take a “pitcher’s pitch” and slap a single the other way. This rare skill set allows St. Louis to start a rally from anywhere in the batting order, something very few teams have the ability to do in this age of high-power, low-average middle-of-the-order hitters.
3. Caught Stealing
Here we are again -- another reason why Yadier Molina means more to his team than any other player in the league (my definition of a MVP). He has thrown out 40 percent of base stealers this season, the top mark in all of baseball, and is a key reason why the Cardinals' pitching staff ranks sixth in team ERA. St. Louis obviously has an elite offense, thus putting a considerable amount of pressure on opposing offenses to manufacture runs whenever possible. A hit and run or a sacrifice bunt is a risky play against Molina because if the batter fails to make contact, there is a good chance that the gunslinger behind the plate will destroy the rally before it ever starts. Cardinal pitchers have surrendered only 111 homers this season (second fewest in the big leagues), giving the opposition no choice but to take their chances on the base paths. Good luck with that.
One would assume that when pitching with a lead, as Cardinal pitchers have done for most of the season, that opposing offenses would swing for the fences and thus get their fair share of extra-base hits. Not so much, as the St. Louis pitching staff has an OPS against of .682, the sixth-lowest mark in baseball. They don’t give up home runs and rarely issue free passes, two things every postseason staff must do if they want a chance to advance in the postseason. Hitting a baseball is a hard thing to do, so if a team needs to do it four times to record two runs (four singles) as opposed to once to record three runs (two walks and a homer), the percentages play in the pitcher's favor. In a sport where a 30 percent success rate is considered All-Star level, a pitching staff that doesn’t give up extra base hits or issue walks is in a good spot to pitch deep into October.
1. Batting Average With Runners In Scoring Position
This has been the story all season long for St. Louis, and if they are going to make a run at a second title in three seasons, it needs to continue at a high level. Here is what the typical Cardinal lineup card looks like, with their batting average with RISP beside each name.
Matt Carpenter - .398
Carlos Beltran - .374
Matt Holliday - .390
Matt Adams/Allen Craig - .412 (cumulative)
Yadier Molina - .369
If playoff baseball is about making the most of scoring chances when they present themselves, is there a lineup you trust more? Forget this season -- has there ever been a lineup you’d trust more to deliver the clutch hit than the 2013 Cardinals? Don't forget, 2011 World Series MVP David Freese isn’t even included here, and he has proven capable of getting hot when all the chips are down.