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Cardinals having run-scoring problems

The second half has not begun the way the St. Louis Cardinals would have envisioned. The club lost five of six road contests to National League Central Division rivals Cincinnati and Milwaukee.

During that stretch, the games were close. The Cardinals received good pitching, but the offense often misfired when it mattered most. They had plenty of scoring chances, though. The problem was bringing them home. In 51 at-bats with runners in scoring position, the Cards’ hitters managed only eight hits.

The bottom line for the offense was that they scored just 15 runs in total, plating three or fewer runs in all six contests.

Researcher Tom Orf helps put this current stretch of offensive frustration into context. This is the 22nd time since 1980 that the club has scored no more than three runs in any game over a stretch of at least six games.

The current streak pales in comparison to the longest offensive slowdown by the team during this time. The 1988 Cardinals suffered through a dozen consecutive outings in which they plated three or less.

Two other teams had nine-game stretches. The most recent one parallels this season, as it occurred during the summer of 2007, when the Cardinals were defending their last World Series title prior to 2011.

On one hand, one might not be concerned about all this. The raw frequency indicates that on the average, this happens more years than not (22 times in 33 years). On the other, 2012 marks only the fifth time it has occurred in the last 10 years.

Further, despite all the recent success of the Cardinals, there is very little intersection of playoff baseball with these streaky low-scoring teams. In only two of these years did the Cardinals teams that endured a six-game stretch of low run-scoring go on to make the post-season (see “PS” column at right of table below).

One was back in 1996. Tony La Russa’s first St. Louis club made the playoffs after the organization had endured a decade of falling short.

The other was at the start of the roller-coaster 2011 season – a comeback campaign like no other – one that offers hope no matter how concerning the current situation might appear.

Most consecutive games scoring three or fewer runs, St. Louis Cardinals, 1980-present (listed from most recent)

7/13/2012 7/18/2012+ 6 1 5 205 15 51 8 0 4 15 49 29 4 1 0.249 0.299 0.346 0.645 CIN, MIL TBD
3/31/2011 4/6/2011 6 2 4 195 15 45 5 1 2 14 30 21 3 2 0.231 0.304 0.297 0.602 SDP,PIT yes
8/29/2010 9/4/2010 6 1 5 184 8 33 6 1 2 8 31 11 0 0 0.179 0.232 0.255 0.488 WSN,HOU,CIN no
4/27/2007 5/7/2007 9 2 7 282 15 58 6 0 3 15 30 19 2 1 0.206 0.268 0.259 0.527 CHC,MIL,HOU,COL no
8/5/2003 8/10/2003 6 3 3 172 14 34 8 0 4 12 28 18 1 2 0.198 0.274 0.314 0.588 FLA,ATL no
8/23/1996 8/28/1996 6 2 4 200 11 39 7 0 3 11 46 15 5 1 0.195 0.255 0.275 0.530 HOU,FLA yes
9/22/1995 9/29/1995 7 2 5 224 14 44 4 1 5 14 60 14 0 4 0.196 0.246 0.290 0.536 HOU,CHC,PIT no
6/27/1992 7/5/1992 9 4 5 305 11 59 11 1 3 11 63 17 10 7 0.193 0.242 0.266 0.508 NYM,PIT,SFG no
4/9/1992 4/14/1992 6 2 4 197 11 43 7 1 4 8 33 15 12 3 0.218 0.278 0.325 0.603 NYM,CHC,MON no
6/2/1991 6/10/1991 8 4 4 245 16 52 7 4 1 14 37 28 11 7 0.212 0.291 0.286 0.577 NYM,LAD,SFG no
8/31/1990 9/5/1990 6 1 5 196 10 47 4 0 2 10 29 10 10 7 0.240 0.287 0.291 0.578 ATL,NYM,MON no
7/12/1990 7/18/1990 7 2 5 227 14 51 13 0 1 13 36 24 6 1 0.225 0.298 0.295 0.593 SFG,LAD no
5/1/1990 5/7/1990 6 1 5 190 11 38 10 1 3 11 38 22 5 2 0.200 0.283 0.311 0.594 SDP,CIN no
9/9/1989 9/15/1989 7 0 6 206 9 40 3 2 1 9 47 13 9 5 0.194 0.239 0.243 0.481 CHC,PIT,PHI no
7/23/1989 7/29/1989 6 3 3 184 11 44 9 0 0 9 35 17 9 4 0.239 0.302 0.288 0.590 SDP,CHC,MON no
9/11/1988 9/16/1988 6 3 3 189 14 48 17 1 0 12 21 24 7 4 0.254 0.340 0.354 0.694 CHC,MON,PHI no
7/4/1988 7/19/1988 12 2 10 380 23 80 7 1 5 23 51 26 15 5 0.211 0.266 0.274 0.540 LAD,SFG,SDP no
6/10/1986 6/15/1986 6 2 4 201 12 35 9 2 1 12 34 17 5 5 0.174 0.237 0.254 0.491 MON,CHC no
4/29/1986 5/6/1986 7 1 6 212 10 39 8 0 1 8 38 20 4 2 0.184 0.251 0.236 0.487 SFG,SDP,LAD no
4/18/1984 4/24/1984 7 0 7 213 11 44 5 1 2 9 29 14 3 2 0.207 0.253 0.268 0.521 CHC,MON no
9/16/1983 9/20/1983 6 0 6 200 10 36 5 1 1 10 44 13 5 2 0.180 0.235 0.230 0.465 PHI,MON no
5/10/1980 5/17/1980 7 1 6 228 15 60 11 1 1 12 31 19 5 6 0.263 0.319 0.333 0.652 LAD,SDP,SFG no

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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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52 Responses to “Cardinals having run-scoring problems”

  1. blingboy says:

    “Here’s batting average in Close & Late pressure situations since July 24, 2009.. from top to bottom, with at least 50 ABs:

    Matt Holliday .333 (252 ABs)
    Rafael Furcal .322 (87 ABs)
    Albert Pujols .305 (243 ABs)
    Daniel Descalso .298 (114 ABs)
    Yadier Molina .286 (276 ABs)
    Jon Jay .267 (131 ABs)
    Ryan Ludwick .263 (133 ABs)
    David Freese .252 (143 ABs)
    Lance Berkman .250 (96 ABs)
    Carlos Beltran .247 (53 ABs)
    Tyler Greene .243 (74 ABs)
    Skip Schumaker .233 (227 ABs)
    Ryan Theriot .227 (75 ABs)
    Nick Stavinoha .220 (50 ABs)
    Rick Ankiel .217 (69 ABs)
    Felipe Lopez .213 (61 ABs)
    Brendan Ryan .209 (134 ABs)
    Colby Rasmus .198 (182 ABs)
    Allen Craig .186 (97 ABs)

    Read more:

    • crdswmn says:

      Unfortunately I am not surprised to see Allen Craig at the bottom of that list. If there is one knock against Craig, it’s that he doesn’t seem to handle high pressure situations very well. I’ve seen him swing at pitches so far out of the strike zone, you almost have to throw the bat at it to make contact.

      However, bling, I don’t think that means what I bet you are thinking πŸ™‚ While I don’t have numbers to show, I recall Matt Adams not being particularly good in that regard either.

      • blingboy says:

        IMO Bernie’s chart is not relevant to any discussion about the current team. He must be suffering from TLR disease where what guys did years ago matters now. I don’t have any late and close stats, but as an example of what I am talking about, Holliday’s career BA with RISP is .293, but this year is .245. A massive difference. The difference between a #3 hitter and something else, in fact.

        Craig, by the way, career .320; 2012 .356. Trending the right way. Adams .318

        But I thought it was interesting anyway.

        • crdswmn says:

          Bernie tends to manipulate stats to make a point. I imagine he went back to 2009 because it gave him the numbers he wanted. Bernie’s issue (which I agree with) was with the idea that Matt Holliday wasn’t “clutch”, which is a ridiculous notion to begin with, “clutch” being a nebulous term which really has no meaning. As you point out, Holliday has a .293 avg with RISP, but as to the current .245 that you cite, that number has less relevance when you are talking about a guy who historically hits better in the second half. Let’s wait and see what that number is in late September, and then we’ll talk.

          As to my point about Allen Craig, here is where Bernie and I part company. He downplays hitting with RISP at a certain point in the game, saying that it makes no difference whether you hit with RISP in the early innings when you have a substantial lead as opposed to hitting with RISP in close games in innings 7-9. I think it makes a great deal of difference; the former is not a high pressure situation, the latter is. What I have observed with Allen Craig is that in the close and late situations he tends to take very ugly at bats, often swinging at pitchers way outside the strike zone. Some people were talking on some of the PD sites about that pitch in the dirt that Holliday swung at yesterday, but I have seen Allen Craig swing at pitches much worse than that, and more often in those high pressure situations where the game is on the line. I have also seen David Freese often swing at those type of pitches, but he tends to so throughout the game and not just close and late.

          As I said, these are just my observations (with my eyes, which for most people are notoriously incorrect) so I hold my opinion up to scrutiny to anyone who wants to take issue with me.

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    It may be hard for Mo to make any significant deals this July. Many of our prospects are too good to surrender for just two months use of a player.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Eliminating compensatory draft picks for most free agents has softened the mid-season trade market.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Some of the P-D writers are talking up how our pitching is sufficient. This must be our public message to lower the prices of teams willing to trade pitchers. Bernie even even suggests we need a right swinging CF more than a pitcher.

      • CariocaCardinal says:

        That seems like a silly concept if true. There should actually be just as many players available as teams will no longer want to hold on to players that wont bring them draft picks..

        • JumboShrimp says:

          Baseball will still have the same number of players, true.
          A non-contending team wants to gain something. They want a player or minor leaguer, or they can just stand pat. An acquisitive team must pay a bribe.
          If the acquired player is soon to enter free agency, the bribing team can gain some value back via a draft pick. The reduces the cost of the bribe, helping persuade the acquiring team to pay the bribe.
          However, if there is no draft pick, the acquiring team is not going to offer as much and the non-contending team either accepts a lower price or there is no trade because the bribe is too low. The draft picks helped persuade acquiring teams to offer more.
          The Cards may try to find a player under contract in 2013, as another way to obtain value beyond this season.

        • blingboy says:

          There is a school of thought that the extra wild card in each league significantly increases the number of teams that consider themselves still in it enough to be buyers, or at least not sellers, so there would be fewer players available and more teams wanting them.

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    Fuentes was a Rockie, as was Mo himself, in a suit rather than uniform. Mo was eager to trade for Holliday and Fuentes in July 2008, offering Boggs, Skip, and Ludwick, for Holliday, but was outbid by Billie Beane. Then that winter, the Angels outbid us with cash for Fuentes when he was in free agency.
    However this July, we had his former team-mate Holliday and his friend Mo reach out to Fuentes and tell him we want to help him rebuild his career, after the disappointment of being outcast by the As. So it was not just luck that we landed Fuentes, because we had cultivated him previously.

    Fuentes may prove helpful, adding an accomplished veteran for the pen.

  4. Nutlaw says:

    Schumaker leading off with Furcal batting eighth? Berkman hitting sixth. Beltran in center. Excellent. I approve of riding the hot hand.

  5. blingboy says:

    Maybe Westy is right about the scribes reading the blog. A day or two after we were discussing weather Mo should change plans about seeking a starter, it shows up. And after Jumbo harps on Jay still hurting, there it is. Right on que. πŸ™‚

    Somehow, they must have missed the part about Moyer. On vacation probably.

  6. blingboy says:

    We hit a lot of solos seems like.

  7. crdswmn says:

    That home run of Matt Holliday’s should have had a flight attendant on it.

  8. JumboShrimp says:

    Wes, we are ahead, you can come back and grin.

  9. blingboy says:

    My son just gave me a ball he got signed yesterday by Roy Sievers. He was 1949 rookie of the year in the AL playing for the Browns. I already have 1949 NL ROY Don Newcombe. I’ve had that one a long time but didn’t know it untill a couple years ago. It’s on a scorecard signed by Bob Milliken and 3 or 4 other guys including Newcombe.

  10. blingboy says:

    Nice win. Well played. Who were those guys πŸ™‚

  11. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    4 hits in a row with controlled swings to the opposite field……………… as was planned………the very fact that it was a first time through strategy……..which reverted back to business as usual…….should get some one fired………….. McGwire was sitting there quietly through the first inning……. theres your culprit………

  12. JumboShrimp says:

    Another fine game by Kyle Lohse, 10-2, leading team in the important metric of eating innings.

    Matt Holliday is supposed to be a second half player. If so, he is en route to a big year.

    • blingboy says:

      Kyle is playing for a contract, same as in 2008 when he went 15-6.

      Now with two good years in a row, he should rake in the cash this winter. From somebody.

      • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

        This was a big game. …. That lead let him stay aggressive. ……….. he made some great pitches……
        he will get three yrs…..36 plus……. when you look at what the market suggests. He could get 3/45 if he wins 17 and stays in the 2’s……….. Cards can’t win this division unless wee get a hitter. Kelly is the real deal…… way you get a better pitcher than that…………if we gave him a few leads like today…….he would impress…….

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Actually Kyle has pitched superbly for the Cards, just set back a couple of years by a freak injury.

      • Nutlaw says:

        Lohse has definitely put up good numbers this year. No doubt about it.

        • JumboShrimp says:

          Lohse has started 318 games, nearly 1,900 ML innings. He takes the ball and competes.
          When he had problems in 2009-10, this did not owe to elbow tendons or shoulder, but to being hit by a pitch. He must have a good delivery, because he has not had ailments that sideline many others.
          There were critics when Mo signed Lohse to a 4 year deal after 2008, but this deal makes Mo look pretty shrewd. If not for being hit while batting, Lohse might have contributed 800+ innings across this contract. Lohse has been steady, like Jeff Suppan was for KC and the Cards.

          • Brian Walton says:

            I doubt many outside observers would consider Lohse’s contract to be good or his GM to have been shrewd for negotiating it.

            Mo has made plenty of good decisions. Four years, $41 million with full no-trade protection wasn’t one of them. It is very similar to Suppan’s four-year, $42 million deal received from Milwaukee earlier.

            • JumboShrimp says:

              Suppan got a 4 year deal, 2007-10, with the Brewers. This was his second contract after reaching free agency, following a 3 year deal with the Cards, 2004-06. Jeff’s performance worsened across the four years with the Brewcrew, gradually worn down by the great number of innings through his career. IIRC, Suppan was released during 2010. Such is Suppan’s admirable work ethic he continues to pitch, on minor league or low salary contracts.

              Unlike Suppan, Lohse has been excellent though the 3rd and 4th years of his contract. Kyle is 10-2, unlikely be released, like Jeff.

              No trade provisions are common in long-term contracts. If a team later decides to trade a guy, they have to pay him extra money to waive it. No trade clauses are sought by players, not because they mind being traded, but as leverage to make more money.

              Many baseball insiders would say the Cards wanted a steady pitcher, paid the market price for one, and Kyle has earned his keep. All’s well that end’s well, wrote the Bard.

  13. crdswmn says:

    Derrick Goold has tweeted that Mozeliak stated there is no longer a sense of urgency to get a starting pitcher. There have been no recent rumors of any interest in relief pitching either. Maybe Mozeliak has determined to stand pat, unless there is some concern about Jay and the possibility that we may have to look for a CF.

    I was afraid Mozeliak’s attempt to fix the bullpen was going to consist of Brian Fuentes and internal fixes like Rosenthal. Lack of compensatory draft picks and a desire to hold on to prospects may keep the Cardinals out of the trade market.

  14. blingboy says:

    Jake is a good example of how expensive pitching is. He’s been around a while and is a .500 pitcher if there ever was one. 92-92, 4.30. He’s made about $60M so far. That’s about the kind of guy likely to be available at a reasonable price. Mo might just figure he can get .500 from farm hands.

    I don’t see much in the way of CFs out there.

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