Looking at OPS+ marks by the St. Louis Cardinals’ top three hitters over the Albert Pujols years.
In the previous post, we looked at the potential of the St. Louis Cardinals’ middle three hitters in 2011, Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman, through a comparison of their career milestones to the famous 2004 MV3 of Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen.
In that analysis, I left Pujols out since the aggregate of his numerous accomplishments since 2004 would have tipped the balance too strongly in favor of the 2011 trio.
For the poll topic at the conclusion of the article, I slipped in a list of other top Cardinals duos during the Pujols era, asking readers to select the “best”. In a close race, at the time I type this, the pair having received the most votes was from 2005, Edmonds and Larry Walker.
Not being entirely satisfied where I left the subject, I decided to make another quick run at it. In this case, I summed the OPS+ of Pujols and his two most productive counterparts each season since Albert’s 2001 debut.
By definition, using OPS+ provides only a high-level offensive view, but it does allow Pujols’ yearly numbers to be included. For a 2011 projection, I simply listed the career OPS+ marks of Pujols, Holliday and Berkman.
* partial season
# career averages
Not surprisingly, the MV3 in 2004 earned their reputation with the highest OPS+ total of the Pujols years. The same three also logged the second-best OPS+ total the year prior.
If Pujols, Holliday and Berkman each post career-average seasons for them in 2011, their total OPS+ would rank only in a tie for sixth over the last 11 years.
Then again, it doesn’t seem to matter all that much in the big picture. As the far right column indicates, having three players with high OPS+ marks does not correlate well with the entire 25-man roster reaching the post-season. Three of the top five seasons by this measure were non-playoff ones, 2003, 2008 and 2010.
Further suggesting a lineup with depth (and good pitching) may be more important than having three offensive stars is the fact that the Cardinals reached the playoffs in four of the lowest five OPS+ total years. The 2005 reader voting favorite ranks ninth in this measurement despite the club having won 100 games and the 2006 World Champions are eighth of 11.
Earlier I made the assumption that Holliday and Berkman will be the among the Cardinals’ top three contributors in 2011, joining Pujols. What do you think?