What If: The St. Louis Cardinals Were Two Teams

Much has been made of the Cardinals’ amazing depth and seeming ability to pull All-Star-caliber players from their minor leagues at will.

In today’s FanGraphs After Dark chat with Paul Swydan I asked what place in the NL Central the Cardinals would finish in were they to be forced to field two separate (but equal) teams in 2014.

Swydan’s answer:

Probably third and fourth. They’re not THAT good.
Maybe even lower than that. It’s an interesting question.

Well, I too thought it was interesting and decided to try to find out.

I looked at the Oliver projections for the Cardinals and tried to divide them into equal teams. Then I did my best (well, my most efficient, it is 9 at night) to divide up playing time equally between both teams. STEAMER projections assume 600 PA’s for all position players so I prorated each player’s WAR projection for the number of PA’s that I estimated (I tried to stick to 600 PA’s for each position – too much work to do otherwise).

For pitchers I used Oliver’s projected number of starts for starters and innings pitched for relievers to make sure that both teams were equal. I didn’t do any prorating for pitchers. I wanted to, but that started to look like more work than I was willing to put in right now — and I was sort of worried that Paul would do his own post on this, so I wanted to beat him to the punch.

There weren’t quite enough players projected for the Cardinals so for the missing positions I just assumed a replacement-level player.

These were the teams and their projected WAR totals that I came up with.

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So each team was at about 25 .5 WAR.

How about the rest of the NL Central?

For this I just looked at the STEAMER projections since they already adjust playing time and I didn’t want to have to do it for each team. This is what STEAMER had for the other NL Central teams:

Pirates 34.5 WAR
Reds 30.5 WAR
Brewers 27.6 WAR
Cubs 26.9 WAR

So, our Cardinals teams look like they’d finish just behind the rest of the NL Central, but it’s close enough that we can say that the Cardinals might literally be twice as good as the Cubs and Brewers.



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BVHeck
Guest
BVHeck

Despite the apparent issues with Oliver projections, this is awesome.

Leo
Guest
Leo

Alternate question: How good would the Brewers and Cubs be if they combined to field one team?

Ray
Guest
Ray

Ooooh, I like it! I’d love to see the numbers, can they combine to beat out the one Cards squad?

studstats_13
Member
studstats_13

sounds like a topic for all rivals:)

Tom
Guest
Tom

Very interesting analysis, although I think you could’ve assembled a better pair of Cardinals teams by using Stephen Piscotty instead of Butler, Stoppelman instead of Rondon, and starting Siegrist/Rosenthal instead of Maness/Castro.

Also, Tim Cooney would probably get some starts, or at least soak up some relief innings. This is fun! I kind of wish the Cardinals *were* two teams now!

filihok
Guest
filihok

I had originally intended to look at it more in depth. Then I realized how much work that would entail, adjusting Rosenthal’s stats to have him as a starter for example.

If anyone wants to do that work, I’d be interested to see it.

studstats_13
Member
studstats_13

This article was one of the most intersting i have ever read.

Lanidrac
Guest
Lanidrac

Well, I think the WAR projections are off in several places (overrating Descalso, Garcia (the infielder), Kozma, Taveras, Wong, Robinson, Bourjos, Grichuck, and O’Neill while underrating Kelly, Maness, Seigrist, Adams, Miller, Wacha, Martinez, and Choate), and I don’t see how Motte pitches 66 innings when it will probably be at least May before he even rejoins the Major League roster after his TJ Surgery.

Otherwise, this is a very interesting exercise. I just hope the Cardinals don’t choke under the pressure of actually being the division favorites as they did in 2007 and 2010.

wpDiscuz