Three St. Louis Cardinals hitters have at least 24 RBI through the team’s first 39 games and are on pace for 100 RBI seasons.
As the St. Louis Cardinals returned home Monday night to face the Washington Nationals, they badly needed to wash from their mouths the bitter tastes of a series defeat in Cincinnati, a two-week stretch of losing baseball and the forfeiture of first place.
The much-publicized switch in the batting order between Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday received the lion’s share of the ink, but when the game began, it was rookie third baseman David Freese (pictured) who really stepped up early on.
Batting sixth for the eighth time this season after a total of 13 starts in the number five spot, Freese’s two-run triple capped a four-run first inning. The Cardinals never looked back in defeating the Nats by a 6-2 score at Busch Stadium.
In an interesting but odd sidelight, Freese has picked up 19 of his 24 RBI this year in his first plate appearance in a game. The 27-year-old right-handed hitter is second in the National League behind Milwaukee’s Casey McGehee, who has 26.
With his pair of Monday RBI, Freese joined Yadier Molina at second place on the Cardinals with 24. The pair sit five behind team leader Albert Pujols, who has over twice as many RBI as Matt Holliday (14), but that is a story for a different day.
With the first 39 games of the 2010 season in the books, researcher Tom Orf went back to look at top Cardinals RBI producers in the early going, selecting 40 games as the mark.
In the last 50 years, 2010 is only the ninth time that at least three Cardinals have as many as 24 RBI in the team’s first 40 games. St. Louis also did it in 2009, with Ryan Ludwick and Chris Duncan joining Pujols then.
In both 2004 and 2001, four Cardinals hitters had at least 24 RBI through 40 games. The 2004 group included all three members of the “MV3″, Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds and Pujols. Not surprisingly, Pujols remains the constant through the years as the other two now play for Cardinals NL Central rivals Cincinnati and Milwaukee, respectively.
At the other end of the spectrum, ten times in 50 years, not a single Cardinal had as many as 24 RBI through 40 games. That happened most recently in Tony La Russa’s second St. Louis campaign, 1997.
This season, with Colby Rasmus currently fourth with 17 RBI and Ludwick fifth on the team with 15, it is most unlikely the top three will be having company join them based on Tuesday night’s 40th game of the 2010 season.
To put 24 RBI in 39 games into perspective, if that pace could be maintained through 162 games, the player would finish the season with exactly 100 RBI. Most any non-Pujols Cardinal would be satisfied with that.
Cardinals with 24 or more RBI in the team’s first 40 games, 1960-2010
|2010||Albert Pujols||29||David Freese||24||Yadier Molina||24|
|2009||Albert Pujols||37||Ryan Ludwick||26||Chris Duncan||24|
|2008||Albert Pujols||25||Ryan Ludwick||24|
|2006||Albert Pujols||48||Jim Edmonds||27|
|2005||Albert Pujols||35||Jim Edmonds||24|
|2004||Scott Rolen||39||Jim Edmonds||29||Reggie Sanders||25||Albert Pujols||24|
|2003||Edgar Renteria||31||Scott Rolen||30||Albert Pujols||28|
|2001||Albert Pujols||44||J.D. Drew||33||Jim Edmonds||28||Ray Lankford||24|
|2000||Mark McGwire||36||Jim Edmonds||34||Fernando Tatis||28|
|1999||Fernando Tatis||38||Mark McGwire||29|
|1996||Ray Lankford||29||Ron Gant||26|
|1995||Bernard Gilkey||27||Brian Jordan||25|
|1989||Pedro Guerrero||29||Tom Brunansky||25|
|1987||Jack Clark||43||Willie McGee||29||Terry Pendleton||26|
|1985||Jack Clark||35||Tom Herr||33||Terry Pendleton||25|
|1982||Keith Hernandez||26||George Hendrick||25|
|1981||George Hendrick||27||Tom Herr||26|
|1980||Ted Simmons||26||Keith Hernandez||25||Ken Reitz||24|
|1977||Keith Hernandez||29||Ted Simmons||29|
|1974||Reggie Smith||32||Ted Simmons||24|
|1972||Joe Torre||25||Ted Simmons||24|
|1971||Joe Torre||30||Jose Cardenal||29|
|1967||Lou Brock||31||Orlando Cepeda||27|
|1963||Ken Boyer||30||Bill White||27|
|1962||Bill White||32||Ken Boyer||31|
|1960||Bill White||29||Ken Boyer||25|