Thursday, April 19, 2012

Highs and Lows

David Freese goes yard.
The St. Louis Cardinals are off to a great start this season. They are currently 9-3 with a three game lead in the NL Central division. Their offense has been tremendous as they have scored 70 runs over those 12 games, which is currently the best in all of baseball. The majority of their pitching has fared equally well, though Adam Wainwright is taking a little longer than hoped to bounce back after missing all of last season. The Cards have allowed 36 runs to their opponents and Wainwright is responsible for 11 of them, almost one third of them.

On the other hand, the Pittsburgh Pirates have only managed to begin the season with a record of 5-7 and is four games behind the Cardinals. Their pitching is keeping the team alive, while the offense already seems dead. They have only scored 26 runs thus far this season, which puts them in last place by a sizable margin of seven runs. Surprisingly, they do not have the worst record in baseball due to their pitching and defense only allowing 35 runs, which is the fourth best in baseball and one run better than the Cards.

It seems like both teams picked up where they left off last season. Doesn't it?

The Cards offense is currently dominating the majors in many offensive categories including batting average (.301), on base percentage (.367), runs (70), RBI (70), and WAR (5.9). They are also a very close second in slugging percentage (.513). The Buccos are last in nearly every category including hits (80), batting average (.205), on base percentage (.252), slugging percentage (.287), runs (26), RBI (23), and WAR (-0.3). They are second to last in homeruns with six, one more than the lowly Chicago Cubs.

Andrew McCutchen game winner.
The current major league batting average is .248 and the Pirates only have five position players who have an average above that, six if you include Kevin Correia. The Cardinals have nine above average positions players, 11 if you include Lance Lynn and Jaime Garcia. If you look at the other side of the line, the Pirates have five regular starters who are slumping while the Cards only have three.

That may sound almost comparable, but let me paint a picture for you. Pedro Alvarez and Rod Barajas both have two hits thus far this season (oddly enough, all four are extra base hits), which is the same as the Card's Lynn and Garcia. Alvarez is currently leading the majors with an atrocious 46.4% strikeout rate. That's worse than our annual leaders in whiffs: Adam Dunn and Mark Reynolds.

What does all this mean? The Cardinals are doing well right now and will be even better once Wainwright returns to form. Lance Berkman was hampered by a calf injury and will finally hit the disabled list, but the young guys on the bench have stepped up to fill his big shoes.

Generally speaking, the Pirates need to play better. They have been doing well with run prevention, but they really need to work on run creation. Alvarez and Barajas are not the only ones who need to wake up. Neil Walker, Clint Barmes, and Jose Tabata have all been dragging their feet as well.

The two teams start a three game series tomorrow in Pittsburgh, so we shall see how this story unfolds.

Fri, April 20 at 7:05pm: Charlie Morton vs. Lance Lynn
Sat, April 21 at 7:05pm: Kevin Correia vs. Jake Westbrook
Sun, April 22 at 1:35pm: Erik Bedard vs. Kyle Lohse

1 comment:

  1. What is the status on Chris Carpenter's outlook for this season? I am getting worried about his return to pitch for the Cardinals this year. I heard Carpenter will return by May, now June, and some say July.