A continuation of the series of retrospectives looking back at the regular season and how teams fared. They will be presented, from first to last, in order of their run differential as given by the BaseRuns formula and adjusted for strength of schedule, which I feel is the best measurement of a team’s actual talent level.
Number Twelve: St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals were one of the biggest surprises this year in large part because of their offense, roughly an 800-run unit, 2nd in the National League. The 22nd ranked run prevention group though is not quite as impressive, 12th among 16 NL teams.
Given how bad their run prevention finished, who was to blame? Well, one group that doesn’t deserve the blame is the defense, which clocked in at 58 plays above average according to The Hardball Times. That was the 2nd best in the NL, just a single play below league leading Milwaukee.
Among the starters and relievers, the brunt of the blame rests on the starters. Significant innings going to Todd Wellemeyer, Joel Pineiro, Braden Looper and Kyle Lohse (newly signed to a 4-year, $41 million contract) were all to a varying degree below average, Pineiro being the biggest offender. Adam Wainwright was the only saving grace amongst the rotation.
The bullpen didn’t have any single person to really lay the blame on, it was an almost total team commitment to mediocrity with the exception of Russ Springer. Ryan Franklin and Jason Isringhausen provided numerous adventures out of the closer’s role, and not really of the thrilling kind.
But oh boy those bats! Albert Pujols had another insane season that he no longer gets credit for just because he does it every year. In addition to Big Al, the Cardinals struck gold in Ryan Ludwick who came off the free talent scrap heap to post a 4.89 WPA/LI and came out winners in the Troy Glaus for Scott Rolen swap.
Although several members of the offense are due for some regression in 2009, the pitching was so bad that it shouldn’t be hard to improve in that area and would help keep the Cardinals as contenders next season. Kyle Lohse for $10 million a year though? Not a great start.
Print This Post