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Carpenter’s lack of support includes more double plays

Though the three-run home run served up by St. Louis Cardinals reliever Kyle McClellan to the Chicago Cubs’ Alfonso Soriano Friday night was the killer in St. Louis’ defeat, there were more culprits.

The offense scored just one run against four Chicago pitchers in the 5-1 loss. The lone tally was plated by starting pitcher Chris Carpenter via a suicide squeeze. It was the first successful suicide squeeze of the year for the plodding Cardinals, last in the National League in stolen bases by a substantial margin.

Speaking of plodding, the Cardinals grounded into three double plays on Friday. Each was crucial as the Cardinals had two runners on base for two of them and the bases were loaded the third time.

With 165 double plays this season, they seem sure to set a new single-season NL record. The current worst mark in league history is 166, set by the 1958 Cardinals. (The next-closest team this season, their current opponent, the Cubs, have “just” 122.)

Carpenter pitched well, but was removed from the game after seven innings and just 93 pitches. The score was tied 1-1 at the time. McClellan’s problems occurred immediately after, in the eighth.

Through 33 starts this season, which ties him for the NL lead, Carpenter has just a 10-9 record.

Looking at it another way, Friday night marked Carpenter’s 14th no-decision of the year. No other pitcher in the entire NL has more in 2011. Rotation-mates Jake Westbrook and Jaime Garcia, with 11 no-decision starts each, are also among the NL leaders.

The Cardinals went on to win just five of Carpenter’s 14 no-decision games, for an overall team record of 15-18 during his outings. This occurred despite Carp logging 20 quality starts (six or more innings pitched while allowing three or fewer earned runs).

With one start remaining on the final day of the regular season, Wednesday, Carpenter will almost certainly rank last in run support among Cardinals hurlers. He receives just 3.9 runs per nine innings of support. The difference is substantial – one full run per game less than his peers. The other four rotation members all average between 4.7 (Kyle Lohse) and 5.0 (Garcia).

Back to the double play issue. I have been frustrated all season long by those who have written off this historic rate as something to be expected. While the Cardinals are leading the NL in runs scored, their run-scoring rate is not approaching a league record. Further, in the construction of the 2011 team, a purposeful tradeoff of offense over defense was made.

Three Cardinals are in the top four in the league in this unenviable category, with Albert Pujols leading with 29 double plays hit into. Despite missing 37 games, Matt Holliday is next with 21 and Yadier Molina is tied for third in the NL with 20.

Behind Carpenter, the twin-killing problems began on opening day as Pujols grounded into three and Skip Schumaker added one.

In fact, the season-to-date data indicates that the Cardinals offense has hit into considerably more double plays in Carpenter starts than when other pitchers take the mound. One might expect this to have a correlation to the lower run scoring during Carp’s outings.

2011 Cardinals Starts Offensive DPs DP Rate/Start Run Support
Carpenter 33 37 1.12 3.9
Other starters 124 128 1.03 4.9

Breaking the data down further provides a bit of a surprise. The Cardinals hitters have made substantially more double plays during Carpenter wins than in his losses. However, the rate of twin killings during his no-decision games is higher than both Carpenter’s overall average and of course, the team average of 1.05.

Further, note the linear comparison of run support. In Carpenter’s losses, he gets on average one fewer run than in his no-decisions. In his wins, he receives .9 of a run more than in those no-decisions.

2011 Carpenter Starts Offensive DPs DP Rate/Start Run Support
Wins 10 13 1.30 4.8
No-decisions 14 16 1.14 3.9
Losses 9 8 0.89 2.9

As exemplified on Friday, those pivotal no-decision starts are the ones that likely both Carpenter and his teammates would most like back. There seems no doubt that fewer double plays from the offense would have helped.

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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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53 Responses to “Carpenter’s lack of support includes more double plays”

  1. blingboy says:

    Interesting article, Brian. Haven’t had a chance to read them regularly lately.

    First, I would caution you to prepare for abuse since you mentioned Carp’s W-L record.

    As to the DP rate, if you ignore the opener, the rate of Cards DPs in Carp’s starts is exactly the same as the combined rate for the others. So I discount that as a factor.

    Besides run support, the thing that might be telling would be defensive support relative to the rest of the rotation, perhaps measured by unearned runs allowed per 9 innings pitched.

    The 20 quality starts is more than I would have guessed, but a notable drop from his 25 last year. Off hand, I can’t think how lack of run support could be a factor there. Hopefully the trend won’t continue, but I’ve previously posted my worries about that.

    These last couple starts might be the start of a new trend. 🙂

    • Brian Walton says:

      True, but if you took out everyone’s worst game, wouldn’t the differences remain?

      Seriously, I am not suggesting DPs are the only problem but it is clear the team did not score as much for Carp this year as they did for others.

      As has been the case in the past, a discussion with a reader sent me off in a particular direction. In this example, my root issue has been trying to quantify the damage caused by the DPs. Will be coming back to this in my next post.

      • crdswmn says:

        I’m with you on this Brian. The GIDPs are the 800 pound gorilla in the room that everyone wants to ignore, including those who could fix it.

      • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

        The DP’s are all on MM hitting tactics……… these guys are all green light on certain counts…..they start their hands/swing earlier and then attempt to control or manipulate the bat head…….like they were 6’5″ and on steroids………….. its boosts some numbers…….but also creates the distorted swing plane and the roll over ground balls………… everyone is out front………..MM can’t fathom how anyone could give up trying to discriminate on the strike zone…………. but these are special players….attempting to survive in an “ego war zone”…….the rest of the league pitches them that way too……..except Marmol who isn’t a pitcher at all………..Cards seem satisfied to have cut down on some of Jay’s hand motion………….. he is in a Colby style death spiral right now…… adjustments plausible…….I sit him………… he takes the same AB every time….they get him out with the same pitch every time

        This is whats happening……………

        the walk of Molina amazed me…only Marmole could have done that……….pitched so far out of the Zone……we couldn’t swing……..

        • CariocaCardinal says:


          Yeah, teams really have Jay figured out. I can tell that by his .324 BA and .853 OPS this month.

          The team hit into 124 DP’s last year with MM as hitting coach. Basically the same as they hit in to the two years prior to him becoming hitting coach.

          The team still leads the league in runs by a large margin.

          • Brian Walton says:

            As I have said, I can accept the team leading the league in GIDP and even understand how they might have the most ever, but to use the run scoring comparison, why aren’t they anywhere near the top scoring teams of all time, then? Working on other ways to look at this…

            • CariocaCardinal says:

              Not sure what all time run scoring records have to do with a teams scoring relative to the rest of the league that particular year. I wasn’t implying a causal relationship between DP’s and runs. Just that where it counts most (offensively) we are still the best in the league despite the criticism of some of our hitting coach. There are other places more important to look for this team’s downfall than their offense.

      • blingboy says:

        The one thing about the DPs that sticks out the most is that it was our 3 and 4 hitters leading the league. Killed 50 rallies between them.

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    The Cards extended Carpenter another year, showing they are not interested in his W-L record. He pitched pretty well and led the team in innings. Thats what matters and why we respect his terrific service by giving him some extra money.

    Strong not speedy right handed batters, Pujols and Holiday are going to ground into some DPs. Its the way baseball works out.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Some, yes, but the most ever would signal to me a disruption in the force…

      • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

        This is a difficult problem to think about…………. I can understand the confusion……… the anomaly is MM and his vision of hitting and the
        denial of his own personal physical advantages…………… The tell isn’t in any of the comparisons mention above ………….. its how the opposing scouts and pitching staffs are recognizing the vulnerabilities and exploiting them……………. Rodrigo Lopez brought nothing…….the Cubs staff brought a very good preparation……….. he followed a good scouting report………. It will likely work for them again tomorrow………. we need some new blood………..

        Pujols and Molina’s energy level are taking the whole team down. Greene looks ready to play…..I use him………I don’t like him especially, but his AB’s recently were better than any others I’ve seen.

        AP knows what Cards he is holding…… does Tony………. they both both look better with a playoff appearance…………..

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Sometimes there are deviations from the mean. They happen.
        Pujols has led the NL in HRs, despite losing a couple of weeks to injury. Holiday has had a good year.
        Not everything in life is a win-win. Some years the price of good OPSes is double plays.

        • JumboShrimp says:

          Both Pujols and Holiday are line drive hitters who do not strike out a lot, given their slugging. If they put the ball in play on the ground, then double plays may result. Did their ground ball rates increase?

  3. blingboy says:

    The team spending money on Berkman, Carp and Garcia tells us that the need to move forward getting a team together for next year will not be held hostage by the Albert contract. From that I draw the conclusion that the Cards offer will be as good as its going to get early on. Albert and Lozano probably know about what it will be, so they know if he will be back or not. If they know it, the Cards do too.

    Another observation, maybe at odds with the previous one:

    Niether Albert nor Lozano want to sign for less than whatever Fielder gets, and I can’t believe the MLBPA wants to see him take an offer far from the best offer. That all takes time to develop, and I’m not so sure Albert would sign early on however good the deal, for fear it will prove to not have been so good.

    And yet another:

    Albert would really like to be driven around the field in his red jacket, the king among kings to all cardinal nation except the increasingly few who knew the Musial era first hand. He could go his whole career without ever getting bood at home, but only if he stays here. Diedre has enough money, and will have even more, so she doesn’t want to move the kids.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      The more I learn about MLB, the better I understand Albert’s occasional statement that things are beyond his control. This sounds strange and ridiculous, but it has come to make sense to me.

      Elite players set the wage scale for the Union. So the Union wants elite players to go to the highest bidder, not do sentimental cheapie deals for their present teams.

      So signing decisions by top of the salary scale players are not driven by whether a player is greedy or not, as many commonly assume, but by economics.

      • CariocaCardinal says:

        Westie is getting to you!

      • Brian Walton says:

        This is all interpretation. My view of Pujols’ comments is that he is saying that the Cardinals offer is out of his control. While external pressure is real, assuming it is the overriding factor in all cases feels overly simplistic. There are many variables in play with the weighting of each likely different in each situation.

        • JumboShrimp says:

          Albert does not feel in a position like Berkman. Berkman signs for $12MM, no holdout or drama, probably could have commanded more. And there is a big yawn around MLB.

          However, as salary pace setters, Fielder and Pujols, the Union and maybe Bud would be mad if either man did a one year deal. Part of the business of baseball involves marketing. MLB wants the off season drama of huge contracts and nail biting negotiations. If somebody gets a 10 year deal, then they want Brian Walton writing scary articles about the new Todd Heltons. Meanwhile the Union always wants to stretch the salary scale. So there is pressure on the elite free agents to accept nothing less than crazy Zito money, so fans can shake their heads. It creates buzz.

    • crdswmn says:

      I wonder whether there isn’t a conflict going on between Pujols and Lozano. I doubt things like legacies and adulations mean a damn thing to Lozano. He just wants a big fat contract and he doesn’t care with what team. To the extent Pujols does care about those things (if he does) how does that play into the matter? Would Pujols accept a lower offer over Lozano’s objections? Would the MLBPA pressure Pujols to take the highest offer regardless of his personal feelings?

      • Brian Walton says:

        i don’t know much about Lozano’s approach to his job and Pujols’ comfort level with him. There will be external pressure. I predict a showdown between Fielder and Albert as one wants to wait for the other to establish the market price. With Berkman in the fold, the Cards can afford to wait it out if need be.

        • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

          Boras always waits……………. if it pays ………….. his best placement of Fielder is in Milwaukee…….. its not about baseball…..its about shirts and tickets…… dogs and popcorn………. I figure he knows whats going on………… Brewers are playoff bound………its a wait and see on who can dance……… we know who sells shirts………

    • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

      Both of you are starting to rational realistic factors………..thats good………………….. the Collusion agreement’s numbers and definitions were kept confidential…….for a reason……. BHSC took a position that ended up setting Lozano free with his client list……..months before the collusion was settled using different factors than the first attempts which depended on the cooperation of Jeff Boris (Barry Bonds) and Lozano (AP)…………. they worked it out a different way…….more expensive for the owners…….. but they got something for their money………………..

  4. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    This a very structured article by Strauss………..its the position that led to his recent tweets………..

    You would think that AP actually has a choice in these matters, but he doesn’t…………. and Lozano has know it all along………. Unless he rushes a microphone and announces that he will take 6/140……he will never be given a chance to do that……………………. He will take a 7/180 deal from someone in December……………..I’m guessing the winning bidder has already been decided………….. Anomaly resolved………… its been a 3 year project by Selig and others…………

    An aside…………………. I could care less what happens……. an absolute necessity….. is the separation of AP and TLR………. in ST Louis …………. a bad investment……….. I’m guessing Tony retires along with Dave………….

  5. crdswmn says:

    And now, for those who may be interested in actual baseball conversation, I will be at the game today perhaps watching Albert Pujols play in a Cardinal uniform at home for the last time. I will be behind home plate 23 rows up in the red seats with my Molina shirt on.

    My record in games at Busch III is 6-1. Hopefully I can bring good luck today.

    • blingboy says:

      I’d be interested to know what Jackson’s stuff looks like from that vantage point, if you are able to get any impression. Not that he’ll be around next year.

      I think the Braves game gets underway first so beware of fan reaction from the out of town board watchers.

      Hope you see a good one.

      • crdswmn says:

        Well, Jackson does throw hard, but I couldn’t tell anything about the movement on his pitches from where I was sitting. I thought he was so-so today. Too many fly balls, not enough strikes. I just didn’t see any dominant kind of stuff from him.

        • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

          Jackson will not be signed here…………. it just won’t happen…………

          • JumboShrimp says:

            You are correct Westie. He will sign elsewhere, because we will get Wainwright back next season, and the Cards will gain a compensation draft pick after his departure. Jackson has served the purpose for which he was acquired: eat 7 innings per start and give us a chance to win. His nice hitting has been an added benefit.

  6. Brian Walton says:

    Sunday lineup: Furcal SS, Jay CF, Pujols 1B, Berkman RF, Holliday LF, Freese 3B, Molina C, Schumaker 2B, Jackson P.

  7. blingboy says:

    1. Rafael Furcal (S) SS
    2. Jon Jay (L) CF
    3. Albert Pujols (R) 1B
    4. Lance Berkman (S) RF
    5. Matt Holliday (R) LF
    6. David Freese (R) 3B
    7. Yadier Molina (R) C
    8. Skip Schumaker (L) 2B
    9. Edwin Jackson (R) P

    I’m assuming Holliday hasn’t been 4th because he’s not 100% yet. Or has anybody heard anything else?

    Freese following up the boppers has been looking good to me. I like Jay in the 2 spot, although maybe not so much when he’s been cold at the plate. I wish he could get his OBP up some.

  8. JumboShrimp says:

    What a super season Yadier has had. No speed merchant, he has achieved a .300 batting average and driven in 63 runs. Mike Matheny never had such a good offensive campaign.

    • blingboy says:

      Yadi has career highs in HR, 2B, SLG, OPS. Maybe he is listening to McGuire.

      Albert, on the other hand, has career lows in 2B, BA, RBI, OBP, SLG, OPS, WAR, RAR, and he won’t need more shelf space for another gold glove. But we love him.

  9. JumboShrimp says:

    Speaking of good years, I need to give some thought to my Cardinals Nation Blog poster of the season.
    This is a tough competition, because there have been quite a few strong entrants.
    For instance, Westcoastbirdwatcher has had another prolific season of sharing his perspectives. I appreciate his energy. And sometimes he seems generously disposed toward the athletes, which I value.
    There is the other Walton, Nutlaw. He has some keen insights and seems like a nice guy, and not ill disposed toward the Cardinals. Nutlaw has to be in the running.
    Then there is Blingboy. He wrote a beautiful essay early in the Season, showing a rare knowledge of history and a deep appreciation for the game. He also works hard at a real job. And he tries to get along with people at this blog, no little talent given some of the residents.
    Carioca has the intellect to be a fine contributor. He just need to take Westie less seriously, and cultivate his respect for TLR.
    Bw52 is a real Cards fan. Very authentic. Not dumping on the team all the time or a cry baby. He has to get serious consideration.
    Brian works very hard and can generate interesting perspectives. His contributions have to be considered too.

    I will have to think about this for a little while. Maybe I will check in with Mo, see who he would recommend.

  10. blingboy says:

    Nice job by the pen in the 8th. Rzy and Dotel. The youngsters observed.

    • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

      The guy is a hell of a player BB………… I’ve seen Yamashita play the Mussorgsky……….. I don’t believe in in the transcription. There is spiritual decay in virtuosity too. It is wasted on in the service of a piece that can’t really be celebrated with the guitar………….

      Astro’s will be feeding off of our table unless we paddle some fanny’s……………. AP should sober up a bit now that he passed through that experience. He better…………… Actually I see Tony as the most vulnerable at this stage…………. I believe he is conflicted about coaching at this point………lets hope we get over the Parade of individuals………… If we spank Houston in the first game……….that will pressure the Braves big time. AP must try to sustain the BA…….. he should be a team player at this point. I’m guessing that Philly really would prefer us to AZ or Milwaukee……………they want at our BP…….. closer….

  11. Nutlaw says:

    I almost can’t believe that the Cardinals have pulled back within a game. I’m glad that if nothing else, they are keeping things interesting! Here’s to hoping that the Braves continue their collapse!

    • blingboy says:

      The chances are good the Braves will at least lose 1 of 3. So our furure is in our hands with 3 games left.

      I’ll take it a step further Nut, I can’t believe it at all. But there it is.

      Hats off to Jumbo for keeping the faith through the dark days.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      At the tail end of the season, some of these teams seem to be running on empty. The Cards cant score yesterday until the 9th, but not a problem because the Cubs could only eke out one run. Today the Cards again find it hard to score, but fortunately the Cubs can get past 2.

      This gives us hope for the Braves to keep losing. Even though they want to win real bad, a lot of guys are worn out by late September, as illustrated by our guys, especially ones not named Molina.

      My hopes were crushed by Thursday’s horrible ending against the Mets. But baseball is a weird game and you have to play 162. So we could still win.

      The good thing is DeWitt and Mo did not give up and kept trying to put together a better team.

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