First things first: Olbermann is an idiot.
In this month’s installment of “four thoughts” (forethoughts), I’m going to take a look a few of the topics that seem to be on the minds of a lot of Cardinals fans lately. Let’s jump right in!
1. Adam Wainwright has a legit shot at winning the 2014 NL Cy Young Award
Yeah, I said it. And I believe it.
Pop quiz: Who won the NL MVP award in 2010? If you don’t know, I’ll save you the trouble of looking it up. It was Votto. Joey Votto took home the NL MVP award over Albert Pujols in 2010, but compare the numbers they each put up that season:
115 Runs 106
183 Hits 177
39 2B 36
42 HR 37
118 RBI 113
103 BB 91
.312 BA .324
173 OPS+ 171
350 TB 328
76 Ks 125
I intentionally used OPS+ because of GABP, but I won’t deny that without that adjustment, Votto edged Pujols by .013 (1.024 to 1.011 in slugging and .424 to .414 in OBP) in straight OPS. But any way you slice it, Albert had the better numbers that season. Votto likely won because his Reds made the playoffs that year. Remember when Halladay no-hit them, and Brandon Phillips was crying on National Television? That was awesome. #DustyBakerSucks
Pujols settled for the oh-so-coveted silver slugger award that year.
I don’t think I’m alone, being of the opinion that the writers essentially have Albert the Silver Slugger as a consolation prize, because even though slugging was one of the few categories Votto actually bested Pujols in that season, it would be too much of an impropriety to grant Votto both the MVP and the Silver Slugger awards.
See where I’m going with this?
Even had Giancarlo Stanton not had a premature end to his season with that nasty HBP, I believe that Kershaw would have still been, perhaps, the candidate to beat for the NL MVP. Assuming he’s the lead candidate, which I think is a pretty safe assumption, I expect that the writers will give some serious thought to giving one player both the NL MVP and the NL Cy Young awards, and ultimately won’t do it. That leaves Waino as the most logical (only) choice for the NL Cy Young.
…and if you’re thinking about Verlander in 2011, let me just briefly explain why I think that’s different.
In 2011, Justin Verlander was head and shoulders above almost every other pitchers in the AL, in almost every other category. He led in ERA, Wins, Ks, WHIP, BAA, IP, Win%, and H/9. He was 3rd in K/BB, 3rd in K/9. Kershaw’s 2014 campaign, while clearly better than Wainwright’s, isn’t as much of a runaway as Kate Upton’s boyfriend’s 2011 season was. (Verlander had 5 more wins than Sabathia’s 19. Incidentally, 5 is also the number of total losses JV took in ’11.)
I didn’t say it was a lock for Wainwright to get the Cy Young. I said he’s got a legit shot.
2. It just depends
As usual, Cardinal Nation, sports talk radio, the blogosphere, twitterverse, and others start to debate and speculate about postseason rotations, lineups, bullpens, and roster spots. Should they carry 13 pitchers? Who gets bumped out of the bullpen? What about a long man? How many lefties? Grichuk? Oscar? Jay? Kozma? A third catcher on the roster to get Pierzynski in?
Dude. The answer is easy: It just depends.
See, the beauty of the rules surrounding postseason rosters are that you can change them up between each series. So, if, for example, Shelby Miller owns the Giants and Nationals, but the Dodgers seem to have his number, then you prepare accordingly. If Jon Jay rakes against Nationals pitching, but struggles against Pittsburgh (Dear God, please don’t let it come to that), then you prepare accordingly. It all just depends. We’ll know more by the end of the weekend, and it’s never too soon to start playing what-if scenarios, but until the games are set, and opponents/venues are known for sure, not much can be certain from a roster standpoint.
3. Now that the first 159 games are out of the way…
They say you should dance with the girl you brought. You should go to war with the army you have. [insert other cliche here] The army the Cardinals have battled with in 2014 haven’t had much heavy artillery. Not many “fights at the bat rack”, if you will. This team has had an incredibly difficult time scoring actual runs. A glance at NL team rankings reveals the Redbirds are:
Last in HR
10th in SLG
13th in XBH
Not exactly full of thump. But, consider that they’re:
1st in K%
5th in Avg
4th in OBP
4th in Sac hits
…and you’d expect that they’re finding other ways to get on base, and get runners moved along. Except that, they’re:
14th in SB (one fewer, they’d be tied w SF for last)
10th in Runs scored
11th in RBI
12th in Sac Flies
Suddenly, the unfortunate picture starts to become a bit more clear. This Cardinals team seems to be ok, but not great, at getting singles, and getting men on base. (They’re in the middle of the pack for NL rankings for hits and BB%) It’s just pushing runs across that seems to be elusive–not that that’s anything new. It’s a down year for offense all across baseball, but the Cards seem to be particularly anemic in that category this year. It’s my fear that that anemic offense is who they’ll be forced to dance with this October…and that, if that doesn’t change, it might not be a long dance. /c:
4. Pitching, pitching, pitching
There’s been more than enough written lately on Wacha, Lackey, Miller, and others that Matheny & Mozeliak could consider for the postseason.
Here’s what I say: Ride the hot hand.
I understand the respect factor, when it comes to putting guys on the postseason roster, and I’m not completely opposed to that. However, one of my chief complaints about the way this club handled the postseason journey last season (behind pitching to Papi—don’t get me started), was that they essentially pursued their 12th World Series championship with a 23-man roster. Miller threw one inning, and Mujica threw two. Both men pitched an inning in the NLDS, and Mujica threw one in the NLCS. To me, that was a waste, and poor roster management. I’d hate to see something similar repeated this fall.