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

2012 Cardinals tied for best start in modern era

The St. Louis Cardinals’ 11-1 victory over the visiting Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night was their ninth win in 12 games to begin the 2012 schedule. That ties the team record for the best regular season start in the modern era, since 1900.

Previously, eight other Cardinals teams got out of the gates at 9-3. Three of the clubs went on to win over 100 games and most impressively, five of them captured the World Championship, most recently in 1982.

Another 9-3 club, in 1981, went on to tie for the second-best overall record in the National League East, but was shut out of the post-season. A strike led to unprecedented first half and second half standings used for playoff qualification, but the Cards finished in second both times.

Another key factor across these 9-3 clubs noted by researcher Tom Orf is run differential. While the 2012 club is only third among the nine with 70 runs scored (RS) and right in the middle of the pack with 36 runs allowed (RA), when you put the two together, a different story is told.

The positive run differential (RD) of 34 runs by the current team is the greatest of the nine 9-3 clubs and is double that of three of the earlier fast-start Cardinals squads. That is a strong indicator, reflecting good balance between offense and pitching, and considerable dominance in the early going.

St. Louis Cardinals, most wins, first 12 games, since 1900 (oldest to newest)

Start Date End Date W-L Pct. RS RA RD Final W-L Rnk Postseason
4/14/1931 5/1/1931 9-3 0.750 55 30 25 101-53 1 WS Champ
4/15/1941 4/29/1941 9-3 0.750 73 55 18 97-56 2
4/18/1944 5/2/1944 9-3 0.750 50 33 17 105-49 1 WS Champ
4/16/1946 4/28/1946 9-3 0.750 52 35 17 98-58 1 WS Champ
4/11/1967 4/26/1967 9-3 0.750 74 47 27 101-60 1 WS Champ
4/11/1981 4/29/1981 9-3 0.750 62 33 29 59-43 1
4/6/1982 4/18/1982 9-3 0.750 63 40 23 92-70 1 WS Champ
4/1/2008 4/12/2008 9-3 0.750 56 39 17 86-76 4
4/4/2012 4/18/2012 9-3 0.750 70 36 34

For completeness, the best Cardinals start ever through 12 games, including pre-1900, was 10-2. This occurred three times – in 1884, 1889 and 1899. No Cardinals team has ever started a season 12-0 or even 11-1.

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44 Responses to “2012 Cardinals tied for best start in modern era”

  1. JumboShrimp says:

    Personnel decisions seem to be paying off. Beltran is the clearest one, but Furcal seems healthy and is hitting up a storm, though injury prone so his current performance may not hold up. Re-signing Molina seems a sound decision, because he has grown into a good hitter, to supplement great defense. Lohse and Westbrook are not flashy, but earning their keep. Matt Carpenter, Vic Marte, and Shane Robinson do not seem intimidated, to say the least.. Matt Holliday will warm up. Craig will return, Chris Carpenter may. Mo is in a good position.

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    The table above is encouraging for showing that a strong start is a frequent indicator for a successful full season. 6 of 7 prior full seasons with this kind of beginning ended up with more than 90 wins. Only a rash of injuries may prevent a strong season. Even then it would take a pretty big string of injuries, because we have depth. It would take a number of key injuries to derail this squad. A string of key injuries is by no means impossible, but neither is it likely.

    The Beltran signing was a lot like signing Berkman for 2011. Beltran was a stud hitter, as was Berkman. They have some injuries, get a little older, they are not quite so glitzy for marketing purposes. Big spending teams cool on them. But if they can rehab their injuries and get back to good playing condition, they can get back to being tremendous hitters. They know how to hit. Beltran is locked on and smoking the ball right now. Berkman may have to sit out a month to let his leg heal, but if there is one thing he can do in life, its smack around ML pitchers when he gets back to being healthy.

    With Carlos, we need him to be careful. No diving into walls or belly flop dives to catch line drives. Dont overdo it trying to steal bases. Just focus on low risk plays in order to stay healthy. If he can play smart and stay safe, Beltran can smack 35 HRs and have a great season.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Furcal is a similar story to Beltran and Berkman too. He has been a great hitting SS, within his career. He is aging and had some nagging injuries with the Dodgers, so he becomes less glitzy. Mo invests Albert money to land Furcal. As long as he stays healthy, Raffy too is killing the ball right now. This is not a surprise, because for a SS, Raffy is a stud hitter.

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    Another reason to be hopeful is the number of left swingers. Since most starting pitchers are RHPs, if a team has a bunch of left swingers, then over the course of a season, they are going to do some damage. We can send out Beltran, Berkman, Furcal, Jay, Skip, Descalso, MCarpenter. They are going to get hits and runs even off good RHPs. Its hard for any RHP to shut down so many left bats.

  4. blingboy says:

    If super two cut-off had come and gone, I’d say get Adams up here to spell gimpy Elvis. But instead, why not let MCarp play first and bring up contract boy to take in the aura from the bench for 15 days. Get a few ABs. Give Freese a day off.

    I’m hoping Holiday isn’t going to be super glued to the #3 spot no matter what. We saw enough of that nonsense. Put a hot bat there, whoever it may be. Once he hits his way out of the paper bag he can move back.

    Nice dong by Tyler.

    Nice boink by Victor. That’ll learn ‘em.

  5. Kansasbirdman says:

    Anyone else cringe when Garcia ran into the catcher at home? I was worried about an injury.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Yes. I wish he had slid wide of the catcher instead of running into him. That run would have been nice, but it wasn’t the difference in that game – it was Garcia’s pitching.

      • Kansasbirdman says:

        I was just scared for a possible injury. Catcher (Moresco?) was blocking home and came down on his legs as he was sliding in. Heck, for a pitcher even bruising a finger can be bad news.

  6. Kansasbirdman says:

    Saw results of game. Sad to see Waino still hasn’t gotten a win, but box score showed only runs for him in the 4th (3runs?)?

    Have to see highlights to see what gives.

  7. JumboShrimp says:

    After Matt Morris had TJ surgery, he spent the next season as a reliever. This must have built his arm strength gradually and the next year, he had his best, as a starter.
    With Adam, its going to take time to build up strength. Right now, he cannot be the great pitcher that he was, before surgery.

    Today it was too much Arroyo. Somedays the other team’s pitcher beats you and you have to accept it and move on.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Exactly what we do not want to have happen, happened. Jon Jay got disoriented as to where the wall was and gave it a good smack.
      There are some injuries that are unavoidable, like getting hit by a pitch. If this happens, it happens. Its not a mistake.
      But we do not need any of our guys messing themselves up trying to make a highlight film. There is no good reason to run into outfield walls. Let the ball go, stay healthy, win by avoiding preventable injuries. Let the other team run into walls. Play smart. Play under control.

  8. crdswmn says:

    I’m back. Waino lost again and my heart hurts. I still believe he will figure it out.

    Here are pics. I took a lot of them. Some explanation.

    I was trying out a new telephoto lens. Because I don’t know the lens well yet, I chose to shoot in autofocus, which does OK but it is not as good as manual focus. That is why many of the pics are not as sharp as I’d like. Also, many shots are not full body shots because I had to shoot over and around people in front of me. There are a lot of head shots of Chris Carpenter. I did that because he popped out of the dugout for a while and I took advantage of the opportunity since we are not sure how much of Carp we are going to see this year.

    Here is the link.

    https://picasaweb.google.com/111205811395517988427/20120419?authkey=Gv1sRgCK6s3YTlzp6vHg#5733285127044946690

    • Brian Walton says:

      Nice work. I looked at all 130 of them. Too bad you didn’t get a better game.

      • crdswmn says:

        Yes, it was disappointing. I did have an interesting woman sitting next to me to talk to. She is from the Anaheim area and is an Angels fan. She was in St. Louis for a convention. She is from the same town as Big Mac and is a big fan. The Cardinals are her second favorite team. We didn’t talk about Albert though. She asked me questions about St. Louis and for advice on where to eat. She asked about BBQ, so I sent her to Pappys.

        It is hard news about Jon Jay. When he hit that CF wall there was a collective groan from my section. We were afraid he wasn’t going to get up there for a few seconds.

        • Brian Walton says:

          Chambers is hitting under .230, but may get another chance.

          • crdswmn says:

            I was listening to 101.1 ESPN radio on the way home. The hosts were talking about the CF situation. Adron Chambers was mentioned and the hosts were going on and on about how Skip Schumaker must get all the starts in CF because he has “proved” himself a big leaguer and Chambers was just a young whipper snapper who couldn’t hit. I had to turn it off because I was starting to worry myself with all the screaming at the radio I was doing.

  9. JumboShrimp says:

    Beyond Jay, we have 3 guys who can play CF: Schumacker; Robinson; and Komatsu. If we have to DL Jay, we could bring up another, Chambers, or go with Kozma, for an extra infielder instead.

    We have to hope Jay is not too injured. He had a shoulder injury a few years back, owing to a head first slide on a steal attempt. So he could be vulnerable to re-injury. His collision with the wall is a shame, because its unnecessary. Just let it go, play the ball off the wall, do not try to make a catch, because the player can get hurt and then this hurts the team for the long season ahead.

    At AA, Pham has had his minor league development slowed by injuries at a wall. Mo should re-examine what they are teaching the team is teaching these guys. They need to teach them to concede balls at the wall and to stay healthy, because given a long season, we need to play under control and avoid injuries. This wins more games than challenging walls.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      There is not really a reason to bring up Chambers, given we have 3 other guys to play CF. Chambers is better off playing everyday in Memphis than riding the pines in StL.

      We could instead go with a platoon in CF of Robinson and Komatsu or Schumacker. Skip started Game 7 last fall, he can play in the regular season too.

      The pity about possibly losing Jay for a while is he is a notch better hitter above Komatsu/Schumacker/Chambers. Because Jay had a brain cramp and forgot how to play the CF wall, now we will be weaker offensively. Frustrating.

      • Brian Walton says:

        To summarize:

        Jumbo would leave the better player, Chambers, in Triple-A to play everyday and bring up the lesser player, Kozma, to St. Louis instead. After all, player development is more important than winning at the major league level, right?

        Jumbo would have the outfielders taught to be more tentative. Some think Rasmus tried that and see how it worked for him.

        As an aside, it is pretty insulting to major league quality athletes to be criticized that they “forgot how to play” and “had a brain cramp”, etc. In my opinion, those kinds of comments coming from the armchair indicate a lack of understanding.

        I get that the intentions are good, but the solutions proposed are not.

        • JumboShrimp says:

          Summary:
          Domeboys does not care if a guy runs into a wall. Jumbo thinks workers should strive to avoid preventable workplace injuries. (I once suggested Chris Duncan stop belly flops before one ended his career, as it later did. So I am consistent about reckless on field behavior.) Jon Jay probably learned a painful lesson the other day and will be more careful in future. Respect warning tracks, play rebounds. Tommy Pham would be closer to the majors had he been taught this.
          Domeboys would put 4 CFs on the ML roster. Jumbo thinks 3 is enough.
          Domeboys regards Chambers as “better” than Kozma. Jumbo did not claim Kozma was better, just that there is no reason to elevate Chambers to sit on the bench, behind Skip, Robinson, and Komatsu.

          • Brian Walton says:

            I can’t wait to see your expert analysis and criticism of Schumaker’s wall collision tonight. Actually, I can. ;-)

            By the way, specifically who would you elevate if needed, then? It seems a lot easier to go on and on about what you wouldn’t do.

            • Nutlaw says:

              It would be nice of the CFs to stop running into walls game after game, I have to admit. :)

            • JumboShrimp says:

              Schumakers collision and Jay’s collision are fundamentally different.

              Jay’s collision is unusual, because he had no evident sense that he was on the warning track. It is uncommon for OFs to run into a wall without knowing that is near. Jay resembled a bird hitting a glass window pane, because the bird cannot see the glass. Jon was running full tilt after a ball that he had no chance of catching, because it well cleared a wall that he did not know was there. It is uncommon for an OF’s concentration to be so focused on a ball that he does not sense the warning track and is not forwarned he is about to slam a wall.

              Schumaker, in contrast, knew where he was. He may have missed the catch because of seeing the wall and knowing this one was going to smart, as it did. I am not as troubled by Skip’s collision as with Jon’s. Skip had a catchable ball, so he was reasonably trying to make a tough catch.
              Jay was pursuing an uncatchable ball, without sensing the warning track. its called a warning track for a reason. Its there to warn you, but he missed or disregarded this important signal. That is something Matheny should talk to him about. We do not need guys to injure themselves in hopeless pursuits for homeruns. We need guys to stay healthy for the long season ahead by heeing warning signals.

          • blingboy says:

            What we need is tougher center fielders.

  10. T8Ball says:

    Brian, I need your help, please. Pros and Cons of putting Carpenter on the 60day DL. I’m not entertaining the idea, no, I’ve just read a few fans comments on it. Never mind their reasoning on it is to get their favorite prospect to St. Louis.

    I guess, basically, I’m trying to figure out possible roster moves and I’d like to get your opinion and others on here as well.

    • T8Ball says:

      I look at our 40man position players in Memphis and I’m underwhelmed by their performance so far. Small sample size, yes, I know, but it does make me pause with concern.

    • Brian Walton says:

      If the Cardinals truly believe that Carpenter won’t be ready until June, then there is little immediate risk of putting him on the 60-day DL retroactive to the start of the season.

      The problem is that no one knows. What if Carp improves next week? Is it worth the risk of not being able to use Carp for several weeks compared to the difference between your 25th man being a player already on the roster and one that is not?

      Further, making such a move now would force making a tough roster decision as soon as Carp is ready to come off the 60-day. Whenever it would be, another player will have to be dropped. Risk of long-term loss for potential of some short-term gain.

      The last two guys the Cards dropped from the 40-man were both snapped up off the waiver wire. One could argue that both Adam Ottavino and especially outfielder Andrew Brown could be of value right now had they remained.

      How long will Berkman be out? How long until Craig will be ready? Is Mark Hamilton getting closer? How much would the new player to be added to the 40-man and 25-man actually play? How would this affect his contract status and potential free agency down the road? These are some of the many interrelated factors that must be considered.

      Some of the anxious and excited, especially those who don’t understand or care how rosters work, want to see Matt Adams in St. Louis today. I am not among them, based on what we know right now. If the variables change significantly, so might my point of view.

  11. WesPowell says:

    The Cardinals lineup, healthy, is Furcal, Beltran, Holliday, Berkman, Freese, Molina, Jay, and Schumaker. Combined they have a career batting average of .291 in over 30,000 at bats. Their low individual career BA is .275 and that’s the only one lower the .280. That’s pretty strong.

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