The Cardinal Nation blog

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

Cardinals starters keeping the ball in the park

Few would argue with the fact that the St. Louis Cardinals starters have been carrying the team in recent weeks (granted with some major offensive leadership from Albert Pujols). Coming into Friday’s game, the Cards’ starters are first in the National League in earned run average at 3.62.

One key reason for this is that they are not only keeping the ball down, but they are also keeping it in the ballpark. That is evidenced by their NL-leading fewest home runs allowed – 21 in 323.1 innings. (The Dodgers also have 21, but have pitched just 315 innings.)

Through Thursday, one third of the season was complete – 54 games. Over the full 162-game season, the current rate works out to 63 long balls allowed. That would be the lowest for the Cardinals rotation in at least the last five seasons and is a whopping 43% improvement over the next best staff, in 2008.

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitchers home runs allowed (season)

Year Number NL rank
2009 (proj.) 63 T1
2008 110 9
2007 115 6
2006 137 14
2005 112 8

Of course, for the starters as a group to be doing well, so must they be as individuals. Following are the Cardinals starters’ 2009 home run rate per nine innings compared to their career marks.

All except Adam Wainwright are having better than average (for them) success keeping the ball in play so far this season. Interestingly, Wainwright still has the best career rate of the group. All five starters are currently under one home run allowed per nine innings this season – a major element of their collective success.

2009 HR allowed
2009 HR/9 IP Career HR allowed
Career HR/9 IP
Chris Carpenter 1 0.24 175 1.00
Joel Pineiro 2 0.28 153 1.05
Todd Wellemeyer 4 0.58 59 1.09
Adam Wainwright 7 0.88 39 0.73
Kyle Lohse 6 0.96 181 1.15
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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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