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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Cardinals results against left- (and right-) handed starters


Following my post on La Russa’s lineups, there was discussion about the Cardinals opposing left-handed pitchers. I decided to take a look at both the frequency and the results of the club when facing lefties during the La Russa era.

Here are the details:

vs. LHS Home W Home L Home W % Road W Road L Road W % Total W Total L Total W % % LHS
2008 16 10 61.5% 11 19 36.7% 27 29 48.2% 34.6%
2007 13 13 50.0% 16 14 53.3% 29 27 51.8% 34.6%
2006 14 16 46.7% 9 18 33.3% 23 34 40.4% 35.4%
2005 13 11 54.2% 19 9 67.9% 32 20 61.5% 32.1%
2004 15 7 68.2% 11 6 64.7% 26 13 66.7% 24.1%
2003 12 6 66.7% 7 11 38.9% 19 17 52.8% 22.2%
2002 11 7 61.1% 10 9 52.6% 21 16 56.8% 22.8%
2001 10 5 66.7% 6 10 37.5% 16 15 51.6% 19.1%
2000 11 9 55.0% 6 14 30.0% 17 23 42.5% 24.7%
1999 7 13 35.0% 10 16 38.5% 17 29 37.0% 28.6%
1998 13 13 50.0% 13 9 59.1% 26 22 54.2% 29.6%
1997 12 8 60.0% 9 9 50.0% 21 17 55.3% 23.5%
1996 9 11 45.0% 9 7 56.3% 18 18 50.0% 22.2%
total 156 129 54.7% 136 151 47.4% 292 280 51.0% 27.2%
average 12.0 9.9 10.5 11.6 22.5 21.5

On the average over the last 13 years, the Cardinals’ opponents sent out left-handed starters against them just over a quarter of the time, 27.2%. However, that mark has steadily grown such that over the last four years, well over one third of the enemy pitchers threw from that side.

In total, the Cardinals have won 51% of their games against lefties. That improves to almost 55% at home, though there are wild swings from year to year.

For comparison, let’s look at the Cards results against right-handed pitchers.

vs. RHS Home W Home L Home W % Road W Road L Road W % Total W Total L Total W %
2008 30 25 54.5% 29 22 56.9% 59 47 55.7%
2007 30 25 54.5% 19 32 37.3% 49 57 46.2%
2006 35 15 70.0% 25 29 46.3% 60 44 57.7%
2005 37 20 64.9% 31 22 58.5% 68 42 61.8%
2004 38 21 64.4% 41 23 64.1% 79 44 64.2%
2003 36 27 57.1% 30 33 47.6% 66 60 52.4%
2002 41 22 65.1% 35 27 56.5% 76 49 60.8%
2001 44 23 65.7% 33 31 51.6% 77 54 58.8%
2000 39 22 63.9% 39 22 63.9% 78 44 63.9%
1999 31 29 51.7% 27 28 49.1% 58 57 50.4%
1998 35 21 62.5% 22 36 37.9% 57 57 50.0%
1997 29 32 47.5% 23 40 36.5% 52 72 41.9%
1996 39 22 63.9% 31 34 47.7% 70 56 55.6%
total 464 304 60.4% 385 379 50.4% 849 683 55.4%
average 35.7 23.4 29.6 29.2 65.3 52.5

As one would expect, the club has delivered better results against right-handers overall, with a 55.4% success rate over time, including over 60% at home and still just over 50% on the road.

Now, we’ll put a summary of the results side-by-side.

LHS RHS
% LHS Total W % Total W %
2008 34.6% 48.2% 55.7%
2007 34.6% 51.8% 46.2%
2006 35.4% 40.4% 57.7%
2005 32.1% 61.5% 61.8%
2004 24.1% 66.7% 64.2%
2003 22.2% 52.8% 52.4%
2002 22.8% 56.8% 60.8%
2001 19.1% 51.6% 58.8%
2000 24.7% 42.5% 63.9%
1999 28.6% 37.0% 50.4%
1998 29.6% 54.2% 50.0%
1997 23.5% 55.3% 41.9%
1996 22.2% 50.0% 55.6%
average 27.2% 51.0% 55.4%
Years LHS RHS
advantage 5 8
> 50% W 9 11
> 60% W 2 4
> 66% W 1 0

Interestingly, the success against right-handers isn’t a consistent thing. In five of the 13 seasons in this period, the Cardinals actually had a higher win rate against lefties than they did against righties, including three of the last six seasons.

What do you make of that?

In the National League Central in 2009, current projected rotations for the Cardinals’ five opponents include eight left-handers. That equates to just under one-third (8/25 = 32%). The Pirates lead the way with three, while the Reds, like the Cardinals, have an all right-handed starting staff.

NL Central LH starters ’08 W/L vs. StL ’08 ERA Win % Career vs. StL Car StL ERA Win %
Houston Wandy Rodriguez 1-2 1.11 2-6 4.08
Mike Hampton DNF 10-8 3.71
Milwaukee Manny Parra 0-0 4.50 0-0 3.77
Chicago Ted Lilly 3-0 3.06 6-2 2.99
Sean Marshall 1-0 0.82 2-1 3.38
Pittsburgh Paul Maholm 2-1 3.05 3-3 2.64
Zach Duke 0-2 5.25 2-4 4.27
Tom Gorzelanny 0-1 5.73 1-3 3.82
Cincinnati none
total 7-6 3.14 0.538 26-27 3.59 0.491

While their aggregate won-loss record, whether for 2008 or over their careers, against St. Louis is roughly .500, note the solid ERAs. These eight lefties held the Cardinals offense to just over three runs per nine innings last year and slightly more than 3.5 over their careers.

Related articles:

“La Russa’s lineups – a historical view”

“Trends in Cardinals left-handed and switch hitters”

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