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Cardinals First-Half Hitting Does Not Stand Test of Time

In the prior installment, we looked at how successful St. Louis Cardinals pitching had been during the first half of the 2014 regular season using several rate stats.

This time around, we will do the same thing for the Cardinals offense. Sadly, the story is a lot less positive.

If you have been around awhile like me, you may remember the offensively-challenged Cardinals clubs that took the field at the tail end of the 1980s and first half of the 1990s.

One has to go back that far to find a lower team batting average in the first half than the 2014’s team mark of .252. 24 years ago, in 1990, the year Whitey Herzog walked off the job in frustration, the Cards batted .248 before the break. That was the last year with a mark worse than 2014.

The current club’s on-base percentage of .318, slugging at .372 and OPS at .690 are the lowest since the 1992 club came in at .315, .365 and .680, respectively. That was still over two decades ago.

In terms of all-time comparison, at least in the last 101 years, the BA and OBP marks are firmly placed among the bottom 20. Slugging and OPS are firmly among the worst 25 percent of these seasons.

One has to hope the Cardinals bats will show more life in the second half.

Rank Year Lowest BA
Rank Year Lowest OBP
Rank Year
Lowest SLG
1986 0.228 1918 0.285 24 2014 0.372
1918 0.228 1966 0.292
1978 0.239 1916 0.294
1916 0.239 1978 0.295
Rank Year Lowest OPS
1917 0.241 1968 0.299 22 2014 0.690
1914 0.245 1917 0.301
1990 0.246 1986 0.304
1966 0.247 1964 0.308
1973 0.248 1919 0.310
1968 0.248 1965 0.311
1984 0.249 1988 0.314
1965 0.250 1990 0.315
13 2014 0.252 1992 0.315
1914 0.317
1972 0.317

16 2014 0.318

Thanks go out to researcher Tom Orf for the raw data pulls behind this report.

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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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12 Responses to “Cardinals First-Half Hitting Does Not Stand Test of Time”

  1. blingboy says:

    I am not surprised to see the 1978 team on the list. Worst Cardinal team in memory. My memory at least. We had season tickets then and were totally out of it by the 4th of July. We were in last place most of the year. I was very happy when Vern Rapp got the boot, but it didn’t matter. I also remember that Brock had a horrible year at the plate. Like Craig this year.

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    At least this team has chances to improve hitting post ASG. Wong has been a recent revelation. Holliday is a second half hitter. Oscar has no where to go but up. We need slugging from Adams and he might well deliver. On the other hand, losing Molina can hardly be helpful.

    Mark Ellis has been disappointing, though I blame Mo and Mike for not giving him more at bats at Memphis, instead of a one game rehab farce; he needed to get his timing down before facing ML pitchers.
    Bourjos was a world class talker in spring training, with his 40 steals plan; he can’t hit enough to get on the field so as to contribute defense. This can happen with right swinging CFs.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Same problem with Craig as with Bourjos. Most starting pitchers are right-handers and its hard work hitting RHPs, if you swing right. Craig may have become a platoon player, not able to be sufficiently productive to start against RHPs.
      Left swingers versus LHPs have the same problem, however there are fewer starting LHPs, so its less apparent.
      Jhonny Peralta does not hit for a high average versus RHPs either, but he is strong, so can slug his way to a high OPS for his position (SS).

      Mo will need to put on his thinking cap to see if an acceptable deal can be unearthed for a useful hitter. The problem for July trades is finding a useful deal at an acceptable price. Trade partners are out of the running and have nothing to lose by asking for a lot of talent in return. Trades this time of year are much more difficult than during the winter.

      • blingboy says:

        According to BBRef Craig is hitting .243 vs right handed starters and .245 vs left handed starters. I think he would be most useful vs no handed starters.

        He seems to be doing ok vs left handed relievers, so maybe he can be our bat off the bench when opponents bring in their loogy.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Ellis has had months to get his timing back. Perhaps his slow start can be attributed to his short rehab, but he has not improved considerably since. In a way, I am ok with that because I fear that if Ellis was producing, Wong would be buried.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        The example of Wong offers hope for Oscar. Wong hit zilch when called up late last year, then got picked off to end a WS game. Ugh. He seems to have passed through the rookie jitters phase and is beginning to sock it to the NL. Wong only had one season at AAA and Taveras not even this much. I like it when players collect two years of AAA, to ready themselves for the majors.

  3. Bw52 says:

    If the pitching falters (most likely) and the hitters are still feeble (likely) it will be a slow slide out of contention.Wainwright and Lynn can`t continue to carry the pitching staff and without Yadi and Craig and Holliday performing below norms it is just too many problems to overcome.

    • blingboy says:

      I agree there are a lot of problems. Our competitors have problems too, and will likely continue to have problems.

      On the hitting side I am not so worried even with Yadi out. Carpenter is coming around which is a huge plus. Also, Wong seems to be shaking off the jitters and producing. Adams is steadily making progress countering the shift without sacrificing all his power. Taveras is showing positive signs as well IMO, and more importantly, Matheny is showing signs of getting him regular playing time. Holliday is also improving. I have no idea if Craig will be able to get his act together since we have no information on what the problem is, so I look for nothing there. I have no hope for the center fielders of course.

      The pitching could go either way, but I am not too worried about being outclassed by anybody in the central division. Will likely have to go through the Dodgers in post, though, and that is a different story. This series starting tonight might shed some light on where we stand. If Kelly and Martinez get lit up, well, maybe Mo will get energized.

      Another issue is whether Rosenthal will hold up. Mike burned up Mujica pretty thoroughly as we all know, and is using Rosey exactly the same way.

      As for me, I’ll see where we stand when I get back from vacation. Go Birds!

      • Bw52 says:

        With a little luck maybe Kelly or Matinez will pick up some slack.Expecting Miller to get together would just be asking for too much the way things have gone this season.Agree that Wong is starting to play like we want him to.He should start everyday until a tough LHP or he needs rest.If Matheny leaves Wong at 2B then the Cards will have a sild infield.Between Holliday Jay/Bourgos/Craig and Taveras someone needs to get on a hot streak.If most of the above happens and MM doesn`t kill the bullpen out of necessity the Cards could hang in the race.If the SP falls apart or the offense continues to stink then the partys over like Dandy Don Meredith used to sing on MNF.

  4. blingboy says:

    I am not surprised to see Mike start Craig tonight rather than Taveras.

    Maybe Oscar will start in RF tomorrow and in CF Sunday against the lefty.

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