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Cardinals’ Opponent Miscues Mean Walkoff Wins

On Wednesday night, the St. Louis Cardinals finished with a walkoff victory when an errant throw from Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings eluded catcher Miguel Montero. That allowed a sliding Matt Holliday to score the winning run in the 12th inning.

Oddly, there was a walk off balk the same evening in Cleveland.

It seemed to me these strange endings have been occurring frequently. Needing data, I knew who to ask.

Researcher Tom Orf pointed out a trend in Cardinals opponents committing a crucial mistake with the game on the line. Specifically, five of the nine Cardinals’ walk-off winners in 2013 and 2014 to date was due to an opponent’s miscue. To go along with four singles, the Cards’ other wins came via a hit-by-pitch, a passed ball and three errors (the latter includes Wednesday night).

Curious how that 55.6 percent mistake rate stacks up over time, I asked Orf to pull the data. He gladly complied.

Here are a couple of Tom’s macro level observations:

The passed ball last season and hit-by-pitch this year are only the second occurrences of each in almost 60 years – since 1957.

In addition, it took the prior 13 years (2000-2012) for the Cards to be the walkoff beneficiary of an error three times. Now that total has been matched over just the last one-plus seasons.

Here are my thoughts:

Since 1957, the Cardinals have won 455 games in walkoff fashion. The most common vehicles were via a single and home run. They occurred 225 times and 108 times (49.5 percent and 23.7 percent), respectively.

In the table below, I made the decision to group on the right those outcomes I feel are under the control of the opponent – walk, error, hit-by-pitch, wild pitch and passed ball. Since 1957, 11.6 percent of the Cardinals walkoff wins concluded with one of those five plays.

Oddly, the 1978 Cardinals had zero walkoff wins, the only such season since at least 1957. It was the end of the Vern Rapp managerial era, a year in which the Cards won just 69 games.

And here are the most interesting points, in my view.

With over 2/3 of the 2014 season remaining, the total of five such opponent mistakes to end games this year and last is already the second-most in any two-year period. The record of six in 1990 and 1991 combined seems likely to be caught and perhaps surpassed.

Further, the percentage of the total walkoffs due to opponent miscues of 66.7 percent this year and 50 percent last are the two highest percentage years in this time period. Next closest was 1991 at 38.5 percent.

In other words, the 2013-2014 Cardinals have been the beneficiary of an unusually high total of these big mistakes with the game’s result hanging in the outcome.

It is impossible to ever know if the reason is due to the Cardinals forcing mistakes or simply good fortune, or perhaps more reasonably, a mixture of both, but it was interesting to review, anyway.

Here is the raw data.

St. Louis Cardinals walkoff wins, listed by final play, 1957-2014 (through May 21)

1B 2B 3B HR SF sac FC SB sub BB E HBP WP PB sub % Total
Total 225 27 9 108 22 3 7 1 402 19 27 2 3 2 53 11.6% 455
2014 1 1 1 1 2 66.7% 3
2013 3 3 2 1 3 50.0% 6
2012 4 1 5 0 0.0% 5
2011 1 1 4 1 7 1 1 12.5% 8
2010 5 5 1 1 16.7% 6
2009 2 4 6 0 0.0% 6
2008 2 1 5 1 1 10 1 1 9.1% 11
2007 3 1 1 5 0 0.0% 5
2006 5 1 3 9 1 1 10.0% 10
2005 5 1 2 1 9 0 0.0% 9
2004 4 1 4 9 1 1 10.0% 10
2003 1 5 6 0 0.0% 6
2002 3 1 3 7 0 0.0% 7
2001 1 1 2 1 1 33.3% 3
2000 5 1 3 9 0 0.0% 9
1999 3 1 3 1 8 1 1 1 3 27.3% 11
1998 7 4 11 0 0.0% 11
1997 5 5 1 1 16.7% 6
1996 4 3 1 8 0 0.0% 8
1995 8 1 9 0 0.0% 9
1994 3 2 5 1 1 16.7% 6
1993 5 1 1 2 9 1 1 10.0% 10
1992 10 3 13 0 0.0% 13
1991 4 1 2 1 8 2 3 5 38.5% 13
1990 3 1 1 5 1 1 16.7% 6
1989 5 2 7 1 1 12.5% 8
1988 2 2 2 6 1 1 2 25.0% 8
1987 5 1 3 1 1 11 1 1 8.3% 12
1986 3 1 4 0 0.0% 4
1985 3 2 5 1 1 16.7% 6
1984 3 4 7 0 0.0% 7
1983 5 2 1 1 9 0 0.0% 9
1982 8 1 9 0 0.0% 9
1981 4 1 1 6 1 1 14.3% 7
1980 2 3 1 6 0 0.0% 6
1979 6 1 7 1 1 12.5% 8
1978 0 0 0
1977 5 1 3 1 10 0 0.0% 10
1976 1 1 1 3 1 1 25.0% 4
1975 7 7 0 0.0% 7
1974 7 1 1 2 11 1 1 8.3% 12
1973 4 4 0 0.0% 4
1972 6 1 1 8 1 1 11.1% 9
1971 4 1 1 6 1 1 2 25.0% 8
1970 2 3 5 1 1 2 28.6% 7
1969 2 1 3 6 2 2 25.0% 8
1968 3 2 1 1 1 8 1 1 11.1% 9
1967 5 1 1 2 9 3 3 25.0% 12
1966 5 1 6 1 1 14.3% 7
1965 5 1 1 7 1 1 12.5% 8
1964 7 2 9 1 1 10.0% 10
1963 3 2 1 1 7 2 2 22.2% 9
1962 4 2 6 0 0.0% 6
1961 2 1 3 6 1 1 14.3% 7
1960 3 1 1 3 8 1 1 2 20.0% 10
1959 5 2 2 1 10 0 0.0% 10
1958 1 2 1 4 1 1 2 33.3% 6
1957 6 2 2 1 11 0 0.0% 11

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23 Responses to “Cardinals’ Opponent Miscues Mean Walkoff Wins”

  1. Bw52 says:

    Good thing Cards get walkoff wins somehow.This bunch of puny punchless putrid banjo hitting bozos hit 10 singles in that tickertoy hitters park.10 damn singles.In Great American Homer happy haven.10 damn singles.Disgusting.Cards aren`t channeling the 62 Mets anymore.it`s the 1968 White Sox.Calling Pete Ward and Ken Berry.

    • CariocaCardinal says:

      I always assumed BW52 was male but we all know how chicks dig the long ball.

      • Bw52 says:

        Taking up the Westy role now CC.I want a better Cardinal team .One that can make a comeback without depending on 57 singles or a error to win.Why is that so hard to understand?

        • CariocaCardinal says:

          I dont do mind reading, fantasy conspiracy theories. I want better too. In the mean time I’ll keep taking the wins. Despite the slow start and weak offense Baseball Prospectus (which I believe you have previously cited) gives us the best chance of any team in the National league to win our division. You assume that none of our hitters will return to their previous levels. I think they will at least trend in that direction. My concern is the innings being worked by some in the bullpen. If Motte or Garcia stays healthy and Kelly comes back that could solve that issue. I have faith that Mo knows when to push the panic button. You don’t. I’d say history is on m side.

          • Bw52 says:

            I guess you are a half full type of fan.I used to be that way.Not anymore.Too many areas of concern for this team to be a serious WS contender.Pointing out continued problems is not pushing the panic button it is just reality.

  2. crdswmn says:

    Wins are wins however you get them. A 1-0 win from 3 or 4 singles doesn’t count less than a win from a solo home run.

    The team lost because Shelby Miller threw some bad pitches to the wrong hitter and continues to walk too many.

    • blingboy says:

      Wins are wins and that is the bottom line. Since the end of the Pirates series we are 8-3 and have won 3 series’ in a row. Could make it 4 tonight.

      There is something to Bw52′s disgust with the power hitters’ limp-wristed performance so far. Our lineup is not going to be successful over the long term without an effective power element. We can hit our way around the so-so defense and base running boo-boos, but not around no power. Our pitching is good, but not good enough to pitch us around the poor run production.

      Is our shortstop still the team in homers?

      • Bw52 says:

        Give it up Bling.The rose colored glasses bunch thinks everything is A-OK.Wait till; Wainwright loses a few 2-1 or 3-2 games and then see how A-OK everything is.Like Kevi Bacon said in “Animal House” …remain calm ,all is well.

        • blingboy says:

          Yes, I have often been at odds with those who see value in doing nothing until it is too late, or at least until a lot of damage has been done. There is clearly something wrong with both Craig and Adams. At some point it will be OK to talk about it. I think that if the DH call-up does not arrive in a Babe Ruth suit next week we might start seeing people get more realistic.

          In the mean time, I hope we continue to find ways to score runs.

          I also wish Mike would show some understanding that these hard throwers in the pen only have so many upper 90s pitches in those arms, and use them accordingly. They are thoroughbreds not work-a-day plow horses.

          Another thing to think about down the road is how CMart will fare as a starter when he has to drop the velocity a bit and go through a batting order more than once. I think a lot of those clamoring for him in the rotation completely ignore that issue.

          • Brian Walton says:

            What in God’s green acre is supposedly wrong with Adams? Some were complaining that he had an empty batting average. Well, he is leading the entire team in slugging and his mark is over 100 points higher than Holliday (.478 to .370). Adams has more doubles, more homers and even more triples than Holliday, yet folks are riding Adams. I don’t get it.

            Regarding Martinez, it is not like he did not have a successful record starting in the minor leagues. Of course there can be doubt until he actually does it in the majors, but relieving is an entirely different animal. That is the job he did not prepare for.

            • Bw52 says:

              Could it be most teams expect their sometime cleanup hitter and starting 1B to have more than 12 RBIs a third of the way thru the season? Holliday isn`t performing that great but at least he has driven in some runs.

              • Brian Walton says:

                It is certainly not all on Adams, who has 16 RBI, not 12, by the way. Guys have to be on base to be driven in. Carpenter is way off his 2013 pace this year. The revolving door of #2 hitters are surely not Carlos Beltran. Even Holliday is only on pace for 86 RBI.

                • Bw52 says:

                  I saw my figure was off by 4.Matt Carpenter has been caught looking more times than ever before.He has been in a funk since postseason last year.So Adams is on a pace for what 1-12 HRs and 50-60 RBIs.That doesn`t cut it any way you try and spin it.

                  • Brian Walton says:

                    You are guilty of small sample size conclusions, IMO. Adams has been a good and productive hitter in the past. This season, he is leading the team in extra base hits and is batting .317 overall. With that kind of hitting, the RBI should come.

                    • Bw52 says:

                      I wish I could be as optimistic as you.I think last seasons tremendous RISP hitting will not happen this year.A serious lack of power is been showing itself and the poor hitting is putting more pressure on the pitching staff.Unless this changes I see a team who will not be a serious contender for anything exceptmaybe the last wildcard .

                    • Brian Walton says:

                      I understand your general concerns about the team, but we were discussing Matt Adams specifically. I don’t see him as a major problem.

                      Despite how the Cards have been playing, if the season ended today, they would be in the post-season. They have picked up four games on the Brewers in the last week and a half and are just 1.5 games out of the division lead.

            • blingboy says:

              Nearly 1/3 of the way into the season,Adams is on pace for a 10 homers. I see no value in pretending that is not a symptom of some kind of problem.

              The fact that Holliday has no homers and 4 extra-base hits in a month does not seem remarkable. That says something about how bad the power hitters are doing in general.

              • Brian Walton says:

                You guys have really short memories. If Adams does not hit a home run in the next week, he will enter June with a total of three home runs.

                By any chance, do you remember how many home runs Allen Craig had through May last season? I do. It was three. All the same kind of worrying.

                Like I already said, Adams has more extra-base hits this season than any other Cardinal. More than Holliday. More than Peralta. More than Molina, etc. He isn’t the big problem.

                • blingboy says:

                  Craig ended up with 13 homers. I would accept 13 as a fair estimate of where Adams will end up.

                  I agree he is not the big problem, which illustrates the point about the power hitting pretty well, I think

                • Bw52 says:

                  Do you really thinki Craig will drive in 97 RBIs this season? Nobody on this team will get close to 90 RBIs this year.

                  • blingboy says:

                    I doubt anybody is thinking he will get 97 this year, but if they are, they’re wrong.

                    Last year Craig had 36 RBIs after 48 games. This year he has 23. And he was hitting .300 not .240.

  3. Bw52 says:

    This team that has to rely on the other team screwing up will have a very short shelf life as a serious contender.When it takes 3 hits to score a run quite often the odds continue to stack up against you.The offense is putrid.The team lost because Shelby Miller screwed up and the offense failed as usual.A win is a win you say but winning with smoke and mirrors and waiting for a error or wild pitch sure isn`t going to get you a WS championship.

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