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

Pujols, Cardinals continue historically high double play rate

On Thursday night, Arizona took game one of their four-game road series at the St. Louis Cardinals. The home club was most hospitable, rapping out just three hits and grounding into two double plays en route to a 4-1 defeat.

The double-play culprits were the big bats in the middle of St. Louis’ lineup, Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols. Despite a 15-day disabled list stint with a non-displaced wrist fracture, Pujols still leads the National League with 19 double plays grounded into this season. His teammate Yadier Molina is third in the NL with 13 GIDP.

As a team, the Cardinals have amassed a whopping 97 GIDP in their first 89 games. To help put that into context, at second place is the NL is Pittsburgh with 72. NL Central combatants Milwaukee and Cincinnati have 55 and 53, respectively. The Cards’ current opponent, the Diamondbacks,  have grounded into just 44 double plays despite entering the series with an identical 47-41 record to St. Louis.

I last looked at this subject in detail just one month into the season, back on April 28. At that time, the small sample size argument could be used. With well over half the 2011 schedule now complete, that card can no longer be played.

While the Cardinals’ GIDP pace has eased a bit since the first month, it still sticks out like a sore thumb for a team has simply been treading water. The lack of timely scoring has certainly been a factor in St. Louis’ pedestrian 33-33 record since April 28.

The Cardinals are currently on pace to ground into 177 double plays this season. It would set a new MLB record, surpassing the current high-water mark of 174, set by the 1990 Boston Red Sox.

The NL record is also in serious jeopardy. The 1958 Cardinals, with 166 GIDPs in just 154 games, had the most in NL history to date.

All is not lost. You first need to have runners on base before you can eliminate them.

Though they are nowhere near a record-setting pace in run scoring, the Cardinals are currently second in the NL in runs. They are in the middle of the pack in ERA, seventh, and are just 12th in fielding.

In fairness, they constructed their 2011 club that way – to be heavy on offense. Still, it would seem a lot easier to outscore the opposition if they weren’t erasing a historically high number of runners on the bases.

A return to the Pujols of old could be the most important single factor in the 2011 NL Central race. Finishing the season as the league leader in grounding into double plays on the club with the most GIDPs in MLB history does not seem the optimal route to get there.

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83 Responses to “Pujols, Cardinals continue historically high double play rate”

  1. Brian Walton says:

    Friday lineup: PH8 for offense? Descalso at short for defense?

    Schumaker, 2b; Freese, 3b; Pujols, 1b; Holliday, lf; Berkman, rf; Rasmus, cf; Laird, c; Lohse, rhp; Descalso, ss.

    I must admit that I feel somewhat vindicated after abruptly ending a TLR post-game interview a few weeks ago when I asked if we might see Descalso at short.

    • crdswmn says:

      Not one of TLR’s better lineups, although the Descalso at SS move is interesting.

    • CariocaCardinal says:

      Descalso’s range is weak at SS according to TLR. Of course that means he should play SS!

    • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

      Laird was Lohse’s personal catcher before he went down………he resumes that post…….hopefully both engage these hitters……….. Dave’s book isn’t adequate against this team…….. the options are to gruesome to consider…………. Descalso could not be worse, or display less range than Theriot……….even if he tried………..the hook is in the tandem with Skip…there is danger there for anyone………….. Colby is tempting the devil at this point………. it is never smart to guess the parameters of that “bargain”……… heads up………..

      Brian, your assessment on DP’s is void of any baseball reasoning ………….. and it shouldn’t be….have a pair……..opposing teams carefully plan those events…..as we do….. bad news is ……….. it appears that Berkman may be joining the the ranks of the ronin …… I see an impasse developing on a number of issues for him ……Tony is loosing credibility…… fast….. Punto isn’t wearing this well I can see…………………..

      Kennedy has good stuff……..AZ’s straight forward style could easily sweep this team…………

      Cards are favored…………. hard to see why………… unless Laird brings some “game” and Lohse only give up a pair………….

      Mexico City, Lots of security here. A tiny bit creepy………………..

  2. CariocaCardinal says:

    Brian are you sure we are second in the NL in runs scored? Even with all our selfish AB’s? We know it can’t be the MM approach. :)

    • Kansasbirdman says:

      CC, on a non baseball related note, if I said I was enjoying some terrere in my guampa (kurupi brand) would you know what I was talking about? :-) which in our hot and hhumid weather here is refreshing to stay hydrated

      • Brian Walton says:

        KB, you managed to pass the spam filter test again!

      • Kansasbirdman says:

        The reason I ask is that my ‘sister’ is from PY, SA, and her husband is from ciudad del este, plus we have several friends from PY that have attended our local uni, and my wife and I went to visit my friend from the rugby team who lives in ascuncion. While there we crossed the border to the Foz du Iguacu. Carioca comes from Rio no? They drink mate there?

      • CariocaCardinal says:

        Where is here? Not sure but I think guampe is from the Argentine/Paraguay /Uruguay region and drank cold. In the south of Brazil they drink mostly Chimarrao which is a hot tea but it is only in the South of the country.

        • Kansasbirdman says:

          Here for me is kansas. I have some friends and a ‘sister’ from Paraguay. When my wife and I were visiting friends in PY a couple years ago we went to Brazil to the Iguacu falls (the falls and ciudad del este are in the recent miami vice movie). Anyway, I knew in argentina and parts of brazil ppl drink yerba mate from PY too, although they probably don’t use the guarani words for it. I know Brazil is big, but Rio is in the south, that’s where you live right?

          • CariocaCardinal says:

            I used to live in Rio but I live further north now. Rio isn’t really considered South by Brazilians. They dont drink hot tea there unless they are from the real South.

            • Kansasbirdman says:

              I see, I guess Brazil is pretty big. From what I have seen of the few countries I have been to in SA it is beautiful, good food too, beef cooked on wood coals mmmmmm

  3. blingboy says:

    One of the ‘related articles’ above is Nutlaw’s study of Albert’s declining SLG from last July.

    It was shown that pitchers were throwing Albert fewer srtrikes and he was swinging away. I wonder if a similar thing could explain the DPs.

    • Leebo says:

      Something else that may explain why both he and Molina hit into so many double plays is that they slowly jog to first base, even when the base-runner is hustling into second base to try and break up the double play. THEY DO NOT HUSTLE!! Every honest person must know this. I thought Molina had done much better this year, but the last 2 or 3 weeks he is back to being out of the screen when the ball gets to first base. When did it become ok for superstars to not try and beat our ground balls. I am not saying that they should go down the line in an out of control sprint, but getting up to an athletes speed and keeping that speed for 90 ft is not too much to ask.

    • CariocaCardinal says:

      I’m not an expert on these sites that give you pitch data but I’d imagine you could figure out if the DP’s were happening on certain type of pitches (CB ,FB) or certin locations (inside, outside, etc.).

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    If it factually true that the Cards are 2nd in the NL in runs scored, should I care if they set a record about DPs?

    Of course not.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Who cares if the Cards are second in runs scored if they miss the playoffs? If the season ended today, they would be just one loss away from sitting home in October. You’d care a lot about all those squandered runners then. At least you should.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        The bottom line for an offense is runs scored. By this, the Cards are 2nd in the NL. Its hard to see that as bad.

        Wins reflect pitching and D too. A team could finish first in runs yet in last place, if the pitching is bad.

        GIDPs are not good. Yet looking holistically, the Cards are scoring runs, anyway. A potentially interesting story is why are they still scoring so well, despite the annoying burden of GIDPs?

    • Brian Walton says:

      The Cards are just .500 in one-run games and have a losing record in extra-inning contests. A few more runs in those close games could make a significant difference.

  5. crdswmn says:

    Colby needs to stop trying so hard and just relax.

  6. JumboShrimp says:

    Lance Berkman has been so fantastic in 2011. Not even I, who thought highly of him, could have ever dreamt how outstanding he would be. He has been awesome.

    (So very, very, very sorry if I offend anyone here by noticing something good.)

  7. crdswmn says:

    Don’t know when is the best time to slip this in, but I have an announcement. I am now a staff blogger for Redbird Rants. I haven’t made my first post yet because I am getting the administrative stuff taken care of first.

  8. JumboShrimp says:

    I had been thinking Lohse was doing a good job, but then blam. TLR needed a quicker hook.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Yes, he did. Lohse looked to be done before Johnson stepped in. 120 pitches. TLR not liking his pen, I guess.

      • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

        Or setting backfires………..to cover the main story………………. fastball attack on AP, he’s looping his wrists…………… he is hurt………. his hitting style demands too much late acceleration……… Arizona is on him like you know what………..on you know what………… swoon moves to 3 straight….

        Somebody loan Holiday a glove………..he’s had that since little league………….

        If Tony won’t move Albert out of 3rd…………..he will not finish the season as coach……… Arizona announcers were incredulous that they left Lohse with the Lefty warmed up in …………. Colby has a better knee flex ………….. since Pujols is drowning……Berkman and Holiday feeding…….and Rasmus is starving…………you better shoot some meat with that bow RC……….

      • JumboShrimp says:

        TLR has been riding veteran starters, Carpenter and Lohse, hard. He tried to squeeze a full 7 innings out of Lohse and this turned out very poorly.
        TLR probably did a lousy job handing the Ryan Franklin situation. He tried to protect and refurbish Franklin. While this went on, other pitchers had to pick up the slack and got over-used. In this way, wasting a roster slot hurts the entire pitching staff.
        Mo and Tony should figure out messes like Franklin in a proactive way. But its only when the team starts losing games that they are finally forced to release him. If we were still in first place, we would still be wasting a roster spot on Franklin, in hopes he would recover, while working the other pitchers needlessly hard.

        • Brian Walton says:

          It appears past loyalty to Franklin was worth two months of good will, during which the team played only .500 ball. The effects ahead will be hard to measure but surely it could be a factor.

          • JumboShrimp says:

            TLR likes to be loyal and Franklin delivered for a few years and had earned some loyalty. Fair enough.

            Yet there were/are some decent alternatives at Memphis: Lynn, Dickson, Walters, Ottavino (before he went on the DL), maybe even Marte, Rathisburger, Fick and more. If a guy like Franklin is in a slump, its a dog eat dog world in MLB and he has to be let go sooner.

            Batista got signed by the Mets. This may not be a bad move by the Mets. Batista still has nice velocity and a sinker. He’s a smart pitcher. It can be a fine line between success and failure, within MLB. Batista could outstay his welcome in one town, win friends in the next.

  9. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    Albert Pujols designation as 3rd in the lineup………is…….. purely a status designation……at this point………….. as it has remained for the last few years anyway……….. he is injured………..the attempt at breaking him into the all star game..at any cost……has failed…….and that is on multiple fronts……
    His inflexible display of “non-running” privileges……..in very precarious situations, has most people in baseball……not just locally….talking it up…………………. Now that the aborted (strictly for marketplace considerations) attempt has failed………….does this need to go on………covering AP’s situation? Since the Brazilian doesn’t have a “feed” to watch these games with, Its difficult for me to image what he is thinking……… Maybe a CN scholarship of some kind could remedy his plight?

    Last night AP was brutally attacked with fastballs………may in the heart of the zone……. here in lies the problem……… when I said it might be the best thing for him, because it would force him to make adjustments………..well he hasn’t…………… weak fly balls to the right side………. premature finishing of the swing with the right hand…causing the bounders to 3rd and ss………. ………..tactically Tony hasn’t backed off……insinuating……..with his full reputation……that AP…at his word……..is fine……

    Tony has displayed erotic behavior of late………..yesterdays lineup Card debauch just an instance….it did cost too by eliminating Cruz as a ph option.

    120 for KL……….last time was in 2002………. anything over 100 generally being to finish shutouts and the like……….. KL’s response to the aborted knockout inning was predictable……… he got into trouble……..MH drops a well hit ball………but that was an error……the fall just dramatized its difficulty………. from that point on, he was no longer dealing, but just trying to hold a lead……always bad………. that is his weakness……………………. Starting the 7th inning with 94 pitches…on fumes at that point, meant that Tony fired the BP up……………and this is the point……as he deemed its resources available……………… his call………. he gave up the hit…..and then the walk….well over a hundred pitches now……..and Tony failed to act…….his body language completely evident……..
    Time to teach??????? Time to toughen up a 12million dollar pitcher…..for the good of the team???? a guy that they really need………… and after the GSlam………ceremonially leaving him in to mop up after himself??????????? and then calling it an error in judgment???????????????

    Lets tell it like it is……….CRD style……….. Tony has something on his mind………. I know exactly what it is……..I have said so here many times……….you are all in the WC twilight zone at this time……. this is not business as usual……….. Tony LaRusa is being tested for his loyalty ever moment by AP….. any slight to his “marketability” is thought to be a betrayal at this point…….. Washington is the first team that is conspicuously in the market for a coach and a super star……..will there be others????
    Os it just that Tony realizes that AP might just well break at this point………. Tony’s retaliation against KC putting the game in jeopardy……… his systematic display….burning down each member of his BP, in order of there expected use against the Phillies……….. was a demonstration done with no emotion…………. AZ’s Mark Grace said he could not believe the TLR let Lohse in to face the lefty……..if you have MLB deluxe…….listen to the commentary at least in those critical innings…….

    Cardinals are favored once again……..Carpenter in a crucial start for his recovering ego……. crucial..
    whats the lineup going to be???????? we are only assured of one thing….AP hits 3rd. …………………………….Berkman is HR or bust at this point……he looks Ruthian at the plate……. he has occupied his own life raft at this point………. smart….safe………he doesn’t understand whats happening…………. he will leave St Louis if he doesn’t sense change……… He knows that any offer coming his way will happen in September…….ending any illusion about the status of AP……I say he goes back to Houston on a three year deal……….

    All of the above are just personal opinions…….not reflecting on the management of the Blog…….. with a predictability rate that would make a Vegas Handicapper blush with false humility……….

    Someone here owns a Goya………..and are having a Birthday party for it…..requiring the Maja’s and Mojo’s of Granados to celebrate…………what a life………… what a crib………..

    • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

      Erratic…………..Erotic……..whats the difference huh………..

      • crdswmn says:

        The difference is that it is going to take days and a couple of bottles of Pepto Bismol to get over the nausea that reference caused me.

        • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

          I tried to comment on your sight CRD…….. couldn’t seem to complete the task…….. ???? they sure sell allot of advertising for the level of input that seems apparent………….

      • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

        Not a single reader here is self confident enough to ask a Question?

        Like, why are they attacking AP with fastballs? Even you Brian?

        I understand the problem. The question is……….do you have enough of an appreciation of the game to place yourself in a state of honest appraisal of those things that you can be cognoscente of, and yet are not????????

        It is not an easy question to answer………. but this is a gift for you for these final few games……(I have to get ready for other challenges)……………

        The Dbacks have old salt in their dugout……..plenty of it…….. they know AP wants to pull the ball. They know that he’s looking for off speed….hanger/change………. there is a simple relationship between the fastball with variants………………..and its counter move …change/breaking stuff…….. a hitter usually sits on one or the other……a great hitter is good enough to set up a defense, spoiling the fastball/away….. by going OPO or most often, just fouling it off…..when they are looking for slow stuff….. this takes strength, and strong hands…………………. you may ask, “why doesn’t AP just look fastball, he could time that couldn’t he”? ……………… and the answer is……….No………..he can’t……..and its simple….if AP tries to turn on the FB………he becomes vulnerable to the change of speed and breaking pitch, and instinctively will attempt to adjust mid swing……….. but here the rub………he has no mid-swing…. he is hurt……..and they know he can’t make adjustments……. they see his bat head loop as he tries to use his right hand to time everything….even the FB which he just pops to right…..he is missing pitches in the heart of the plate……. and the simple game of Red or Black…….he cannot play……because if he looses……. its going to hurt plenty………….. can he adjust? Might he win this guessing game? No…..because that is just level one of the ways they might exploit……….a fighter with a broken hand…..or an eye swollen shut………. AZ has an opinion…and they are expressing it………..

        Bottom line………..any move that reveals the weakness of AP/TLR’s current position, is thought to some to be worse than…………. trashing a bunch of games? Trashing a valued starter? Campaigning for a player move…………..????????? Thats as simple as I can put it……….. Tony and AP know something we don’t about their futures???????? …………….Probably….

        • JumboShrimp says:

          Its no surprise, if they are attacking Albert with fastballs. They have to do this while they can. The guy has a crack in a bone and has not been swinging for a couple of weeks. After his injury finishes healing and Albert gets used to seeing pitches again, other teams will want to move back the fences!

        • blingboy says:

          Most pitchers have their best command with their fastball. They are most likely to be able to locate it and not make a mistake. So that’s why they challenge Albert with fastballs. But not right down broadway where he hits almost all of his homers according to nutlaws article from last July. He has shown that he will swing at fastballs either out of the strike zone or at least out of his homer zone, so thats what they give him. Why risk hanging a curve or floating a changeup down the middle.

          • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

            Wish that were true BB……….. its very solid thinking……….though denying overwhelming odds in opposition………….. Mark Grace said last night that he made the mistake of playing golf with Lohse for money………. cute story………….. listen to the replay and consider your position………on fastball logic…………….Why risk?????????????? yikes……….

        • CariocaCardinal says:

          Only Bud and his colluders in crime know the future of AP. I doubt Tony goes to a team where the Owners and GM won’t communicate with the manager.

        • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

          Nice to see the Cardinal players respond to AP……………nice to see AP respond to coaching……….
          He took some advise today……… for those that can watch the games in super slow……AP beat the looping by lowering his bat head to parallel with the ground….Flat……..raising the hands slightly to make it more comfortable…………… this got him to pull the handle into the zone and develop the bat head sooner….. creating a noticeably longer swing……….but the biggie was the his weight transfer off his front side………with a monstrous 3 inch leg kick.(he rarely got his toe of the ground historically……
          his willingness to make adjustment changed many things for him…………. lets hope it continues…
          Should he slump………look to those changes……….all pointed out by WC pre-season if you snoop around……….

          • JumboShrimp says:

            Nice to see Albert respond to YOUR coaching Westie. If only Albert knew that the secrets to his success were fully revealed ……. here …….. at the CN blog……..pre-season.

            • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

              Perhaps some do Jumbo……………….. It is more likely that the truth………by necessity becomes reality……………what ever it may be……….vindicating all who speak it………………

              the point Jumbo……….is not Albert’s adjustments……..its his consent to become part of the team, by no longer being “above” needing to make them………….. thats a good thing Jumbo………….

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Westie, you ragged on Albert batting 3rd last year and the year before, though Albert had huge years offensively. Its something you have long gone on about. Ho hum.

      • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

        I know your position well Jumbo………..I respect the needs of your sanctuary…………out here, in the thick of things………with dollar bills flying all about….sobriety reins……….. I hope the best for AP…..I hope he learns to understand the things he is being taught……….

        These facts remain………… Swoon #1 ended with the AP injury……….. Swoon #2 started exactly with his re-entry……….best game of the year maybe being Tony sitting him down his first day back…team playing in his face……we just lost 3 in a row with all the hype distracting the team……and very little production from him in his key 3rd slot……………… Tony remains medicated, in case you haven’t notices…………. Open war actually exists between On Field/ Off Field……………… I see a decision on CR approaching………..depending on their long range plans,they will exercise an option……….take his value, or demote him for a reentry……….I believe they are exploring these option as we speak. Tony is protecting the young starter…….thats obvious, and obviously on agreement………. Heath Bell would free up a few to go back down…….the real cause of our interest in him I think……………

        AZ struggles often……….they have a competitive environment…….but sweeps are tough….especially for them……….if they beat Carpenter tonight……..and the will score 3 or 4…….do you like Westbrooke for Sunday?…………………… AP is trying to adapt………………. worst case scenario for this team……AP goes 2 for 4 with a HR……and they loose………….. that is the beginning of a very, very bad cycle……. Lets hope that doesn’t happen………….

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