The St. Louis Cardinals are insanely good, and here’s why
The St. Louis Cardinals are an amazing franchise. When Tony La Russa was manager of the Cardinals, he was able to guide them into a World Series appearance three times, winning twice in 2006 and 2011. La Russa then decided to ride into the sunset, retiring and leaving the duties of manager to former Major League Baseball catcher Mike Matheny.
All Matheny has done is get to the World Series in 2013 and, without ace starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, lead St. Louis to a Major League-best 71-40 record headed into Sunday night. St. Louis is without any major stars with Wainwright on the shelf for the remainder of the year with a torn Achilles, but somehow it does not matter. The Cardinals have rolled along with a bump in the road, easily on their way to being the top seed in the NL playoffs come October.
But how has this group done it?
For starters, the confines have Busch Stadium have been anything but hospitable to opponents. St. Louis is an ML-best 40-16 at home, while still going 31-24 on the road. In comparison, the other two division leaders in the NL, the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets, are a combined 18 games under .500 away from their homes.
The pitching has also been nothing short of spectacular for the Cardinals. St. Louis has allowed just 319 runs as a team. The next lowest total in the NL is that of the Mets, who have surrendered 395. Considering that each of those teams has played 111 games, that factors out to almost a run difference per game.
The starting staff has been incredible. Of the five starters, Carlos Martinez, Lance Lynn, John Lackey and Michael Wacha are pitching to earner run averages of 2.57, 2.76, 2.91 and 2.92 respectively. Most teams don’t have one qualifying starter below a 3.00 ERA. Of the 85 starts made between the four, 60 have been quality starts. Then there is Jaime Garcia, who has a 4-4 record with a 1.77 ERA in 10 starts this year. Without question, this is the best staff in baseball by a wide margin.
Offensively, Matt Carpenter is leading the way. Carpenter is hitting .266 with a team-leading 17 home runs and 60 RBI, along with a 3.0 Wins Above Replacement. Jason Heyward has also revived his career after being dealt by the Atlanta Braves, hitting .286 with 18 stolen bases. Jhonny Peralta and Kolten Wong are also providing power with 16 and 11 home runs, respectively.
Ultimately, this is one of the most complete teams in recent memory. The Cardinals don’t have the stars of the Washington Nationals or Los Angeles Dodgers, but they mesh better than both. There is an expectation to win and win often, something that makes St. Louis one of the best organizations in professional sports.