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

Cardinals staff continues home run stinginess

St. Louis Cardinals pitchers are not giving up as many home runs as in most recent seasons.

Jaime Garcia (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)One big reason the St. Louis Cardinals have continued to hang in the National League Central Division race is the performance of the pitching staff. Led by starters Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia, the team ERA ranks second in Major League Baseball at 3.21.

A major factor in that impressive ERA has been keeping the ball in the park. Through the first 80 games of the season, the 2010 Cardinals pitchers have yielded just 65 opposing long balls.

Since Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan joined the team in 1996, this is the second-lowest total through 80 games. Only the 1997 staff, anchored by Matt Morris, Todd Stottlemyre and the Benes brothers yielded fewer, with 51.

Folks talk about the MV3 of the 2004 team, but the pitchers came up big, also. Starting with game 81 through the remainder of the season, that 2004 staff was stingiest in terms of home runs allowed, with just 30 in 82 games.

One might wonder if the success this season is building upon 2009. In the final 82 games, last season’s bunch was right behind the 2004 club with just 31. From start to finish, last year’s staff was best, with just 99 in 162 games.

Home runs allowed, Cardinals staff, 1996-2010

G1-80 G81-162 Season
2010 65
2009 68 31 99
2008 73 55 128
2007 80 50 130
2006 95 52 147
2005 70 49 119
2004 89 30 119
2003 106 47 153
2002 72 47 119
2001 105 44 149
2000 109 35 144
1999 80 53 133
1998 76 46 122
1997 51 54 105
1996 91 46 137

Here is the breakdown of who yielded the 65 to date this season. Perhaps most impressive is Jaime Garcia’s four home runs allowed in 94 1/3 innings.

Most concerning is Chris Carpenter’s 13 yielded. It is the club’s worst full-half showing since 2006, when Jason Marquis gave up 19 and Mark Mulder 18. Matt Morris’ 24 homers allowed through 80 games in 2004 is the worst since 1996.

Home runs allowed, Cardinals pitchers, 2010 through game 80

HR Games 1-80
13 Chris Carpenter
9 Adam Wainwright
7 Blake Hawksworth
4 Jaime Garcia, Kyle McClellan, Brad Penny,
Jason Motte, P.J. Walters, Adam Ottavino
3 Jeff Suppan
2 Kyle Lohse, Trever Miller, Mitchell Boggs
1 Fernando Salas, Dennys Reyes, Ryan Franklin
0 Felipe Lopez, Joe Mather

Thanks to researcher Tom Orf for offering the data tables shown above.

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