The Cardinals’ Offense is Not Normal

Last night, the Cardinals cruised to a relatively easy 4-1 victory behind six shutout innings from Michael Wacha. This series should be a perfect opportunity for the Cardinals to gain some traction: the Marlins are 28th in Major League Baseball in position player WAR (1.0) and 23rd in WAR from pitchers (3.4). But, on Monday night the Cardinals were held to just four hits, with none coming after the fifth inning. Two of their runs scored on a throwing error by Jorge Alfaro. The offense, which was has been objectively terrible since May 1st, was bad again.

I sorted the Cardinals games by the number of runs the scored, placing them into five buckets: one or two runs, two or three, four or five, six or seven, or more than eight.

The Cardinals runs per game distribution in April looks like a normal distribution: in most games, the Cardinals scored four or five runs. Games in which they scored one or fewer runs or outbursts of eight or more runs happened the least often. The curve is slightly skewed to the right because the Cardinals were a very good offensive team in April, but the overall shape of the distribution is exactly what you’d expect.

It shouldn’t have been surprising for the Cardinals to regress a little bit in May. They got a lot worse: they have scored three or fewer run in 19 of 35 games since May 1st (54%). They also won fewer of the games when scoring more than four runs or more.

So, they’ve scored four or more runs less often than they did in April and done a worse job of turning average or above average offensive performances into wins. That’s… not great.

The struggles have been a team effort, too.

Player April wRC+ May-June wRC+  Change May Comp
Kolten Wong 129 47 -82 Rougned Odor
Paul DeJong 166 91 -75 Jose Iglesias
Jose Martinez 130 72 -58 Jackie Bradley Jr.
Dexter Fowler 132 81 -51 Lorenzo Cain
Marcell Ozuna 145 112 -33 Bryce Harper
Harrison Bader 122 90 -32 Brett Gardner
Paul Goldschmidt 127 104 -23 Miguel Cabrera
Yadier Molina 79 85 6 Yadier Molina
Matt Carpenter 88 102 14 Jonathan Schoop


Of the nine players who regularly start, only Carpenter and Molina have improved and Molina was still worse than league average before going on the IL. Since May 1st, no Cardinal hit as well as Harrison Bader did in April. Kolten Wong and his 47 wRC+ hit fifth last night.

Sure, the Cardinals could improve their pitching staff. They lack a true ace, and the closest thing they have to number one is Carlos Martinez, who has rarely been used out of the bullpen. But the biggest problem is that Carpenter and Goldschmidt have basically been average for over a month while everyone around them (except Ozuna) has been below average. It’s a frustrating place to be as a fan, but the best way for the Cardinals to be the offense and team they claim to be is for their All-Stars to play like All-Stars.

Thanks for reading.

Colin Garner

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