Like a new hire overwhelmed with work and stress, the St. Louis Cardinals seemed to perform for much of April as if they were distracted, or restrained by something. While the team’s natural talent on paper goes unquestioned, it performed with a clunkiness and lack of rhythm indicative of a brand new employee pulled onto the floor before properly trained.
The best news of the late month is Allen Craig shaking off his slow start and displaying his trademark line-drive opposite field power in the process. Craig’s swing looked like Craig’s swing is supposed to look: compact, powerful, with a flat trajectory delivering his explosively powerful hands to be ball. If Craig can continue to turn it around and become the hitter we saw last season, the team’s division deficit may evaporate like sprinkle water in a St. Louis summer.
Matt Adams is also showing signs of being the hitter expected. While his average has been high, his power has been low due largely to the defensive shifts he’s faced every time he comes to the plate. However, he has been timing the ball much more effectively as of late and is launching into pitches with more authority, getting more backspin on his swing.
Displaying a powerful, versatile lineup, deep pitching and timely hitting, the Cardinals end April at 15-14, three games behind last season’s NL pennant-winning pace. They still represent a major threat to bring home the franchise’s 12th World Championship in October. Count on the wallflowers we saw in April becoming the NL Central powers fans expect in May.