Adam Wainwright first made the news in the spring of 2013 by resolving his lingering contractual uncertainty. The right-hander signed the longest-duration contract for a pitcher in St. Louis Cardinals team history. The five-year deal will cover the 2014-2018 seasons and will pay him $97.5 million, another club record for a pitcher.
Named the opening day starter in the absence of injured veteran Chris Carpenter, Wainwright went on to demonstrate he is worthy of the commitment. Yet with all the focus on rookies like Shelby Miller during the season and Michael Wacha in September and through the post-season, it can be easy to overlook exactly how important Wainwright was to the 2013 Cardinals.
The Georgia native led the staff in starts (34 – tied for first in MLB), quality starts (26), wins (19 – tied for first in the NL) and average innings per start (7.0). Most importantly, the Cardinals won over two-thirds of the games he started, 23 to be exact.
The 32-year-old was a true workhorse, throwing an MLB-high 241 2/3 innings, an MLB-best five complete games, and tied for first in the NL with two shutouts. Wainwright finished third in the league with 219 strikeouts and had 10 starts with no walks issued. He was second in the NL with just 1.3 free passes per nine innings.
Wainwright’s contributions were especially important given the overall youth of the Cardinals 2013 staff. In fact, 67 of the Cardinals’ 162 games were started by pitchers age 25 or younger. By the time the regular season concluded, veterans Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook had long since joined Carpenter on the sidelines, leaving the four non-Wainwright starters with less than six total years of MLB experience among them.
Wainwright was chosen by his peers to be a member of the National League All-Star Team, his second selection, and was NL Pitcher of the Month in June. The Georgia native led his club to the best regular-season record in the Senior Circuit and was named the League Division Series Most Valuable Player by The Cardinal Nation. Following the World Series, Wainwright picked up his second Gold Glove Award and finished second in the NL Cy Young Award balloting for a second time.
With his new contract, Wainwright should be around to accrue many more accolades, mentor other young pitchers and hopefully spur his team to additional championships in the future.