One of the major concerns during Mike Matheny’s first season managing the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012 was his reluctance to give key players enough rest during the season to ensure they were fresh in the post-season.
The poster child for second-half fade last year was right-fielder Carlos Beltran. As the data below indicates, his performance dropped off badly in the second half of 2012.
|1st Half thru 7/8||79||326||19||51||0.307||0.347||0.533||0.879|
This season, Beltran is having another strong first half, culminating in a vote into the National League All-Star starting lineup. While his numbers are solid, they are not as much so as last season. More importantly, what may be ahead for the 36-year-old during the remainder of July, August, September and hopefully, October?
Last year, Beltran played in 82 of 86 first-half games (95.3 percent). To-date in 2013, he has appeared in 79 of 87 contests (90.8 percent).
The club received good news Sunday in that catcher Yadier Molina’s knee injury is not structural. While the Cards believe the NL’s batting leader will back in the lineup as soon as Tuesday, how can one not be nervous?
Catchers take a tremendous beating over the course of the long season. The reality is that Molina is on pace to obliterate his previous career highs in games played and plate appearances. He would also set new bests in RBI, batting average, OBP and OPS – but only if he can remain healthy.
|1st Half of 87G||81||330||6||45||0.346||0.388||0.490||0.878|
|Full year pace||151||615||11||84|
The pitching rotation has been reconfigured to enable ace Adam Wainwright to get in an extra start before the break. While that is great for creating more opportunities to win, again there is underlying concern.
If Wainwright can maintain the pace at which he is pitching, he would set new career bests in wins and ERA – but also establish a new full-season high in innings pitched at 252 1/3. In the last decade, only one NL pitcher has thrown more innings in a season, Livan Hernandez, at 255 in 2004.
|1st Half thru 87G||11||5||2.36||18||4||2||133.2||120||38||35||5||13||117|
|Full year pace||20||9||2.36||34||7||4||252.1|
Note these 2013 numbers will skew even higher assuming Wainwright completes two typical starts between now and the break. At that point, he would have 20 starts in 93 games. Extending that to 162 games would add a 35th start, increasing his full-season innings projection to 260. The last NL hurler to throw 260 innings was Randy Johnson in 2002.
At this rate, one has to wonder if these three All-Stars, all now in their 30’s, will have enough in the tank to cross the finish line at their best. Further, could the Cardinals achieve a World Championship without any one of the three?