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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Draw a Bulls Eye on Cardinals Hitters

During our data give and take analyzing the first half of the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2014 season, Tom Orf made an aside. The researcher noted the unusually high number of hit by pitches Cardinals hitters have absorbed this season.

Never before (at least since 1914) have Cardinals hitters taken first base 50 times after being plunked prior to the break as is the case this year.

To help put that into perspective, the 2013 club had 37 before the break after just 24 the year before. In other words, hit by pitches have doubled over the last two first halves.

Another way to look at it is that during the decade prior to 2014, Cardinals batters were hit by pitches an average of 29 times during the first half. The count ranged from 40 in 2006 to just 18 in 2004. Obviously, this season blew that out of the water.

Only four times in team history were as many as 40 hit before the break. In addition to 2014 and 2006, the others were 47 in 2003 and 41 in 2000.

Looking around the National League this season, 13 of the other 14 teams have experienced fewer hit batters than St. Louis. The only other team to fare worse is Pittsburgh with 54. However, in a virtual standoff, the Bucs’ pitchers hit 52 opposing batters themselves.

Following is the National League differential between a team’s own players hit (BHP – batter hit by pitcher) and opposing players they hit (PHB – pitcher hit batter) for the first half.

Tony La Russa, usually always one to retaliate, would almost surely be disappointed by the results. The Pirates, with a differential of 24, is the only NL team other than St. Louis at 14 to have a negative imbalance greater than five.

CLUB BHP CLUB PHB CLUB BHP PHB Difference
PITTSBURGH 54 PITTSBURGH 52 MILWAUKEE 45 21 24
ST. LOUIS 50 PHILADELPHIA 37 ST. LOUIS 50 36 14
MILWAUKEE 45 ST. LOUIS 36 ARIZONA 31 26 5
WASHINGTON 34 CINCINNATI 33 ATLANTA 24 20 4
ARIZONA 31 CHICAGO 33 WASHINGTON 34 30 4
CINCINNATI 31 MIAMI 31 PITTSBURGH 54 52 2
CHICAGO 31 WASHINGTON 30 LOS ANGELES 26 25 1
PHILADELPHIA 27 COLORADO 30 NL average 31 30 1
LOS ANGELES 26 SAN FRANCISCO 28 CHICAGO 31 33 -2
SAN FRANCISCO 26 NEW YORK 28 CINCINNATI 31 33 -2
NEW YORK 26 SAN DIEGO 27 NEW YORK 26 28 -2
COLORADO 25 ARIZONA 26 SAN FRANCISCO 26 28 -2
ATLANTA 24 LOS ANGELES 25 COLORADO 25 30 -5
MIAMI 21 MILWAUKEE 21 SAN DIEGO 21 27 -6
SAN DIEGO 21 ATLANTA 20 MIAMI 21 31 -10
TOTALS 472 TOTALS 457 PHILADELPHIA 27 37 -10
NL average 31 NL average 30

In terms of individual Cardinals batters hit most frequently, the 50 are spread across 13 players. Matt Holliday leads with 10, followed by Jon Jay at seven, Matt Carpenter at six and Yadier Molina at five.

On the pitching side, Michael Wacha has five and Adam Wainwright has four. No other Cardinals hurler hit more than three opposing batters during the first half.

So what might be the reason for the Cardinals having the second-biggest team gap?

-      Could the opponents be proactively trying to address the 2013 Cardinals’ success with runners in scoring position?

-      Could Cardinals hitters be leaning over the plate more than before?

-      Are Cardinals pitchers not throwing inside enough?

-      Could opponents be taking advantage of Cardinals pitchers not always retaliating?

-      Is it nothing other than random coincidence?

What do you think? Sound off below.

Footnote: In the first post-break game, Jay was hit by the Dodgers’ Brandon League and Joe Kelly plunked Yasiel Puig in game two, so the gap remains a minus 14 on the season.

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19 Responses to “Draw a Bulls Eye on Cardinals Hitters”

  1. JumboShrimp says:

    Holliday is a tall man who had the highest OPS for the Cards last season. Pitchers want to work him inside, so he does not extend his arms and drive the ball.

    Carpenter and Molina hit well to opposite field. They like the ball away. Accordingly pitchers must throw inside on them.

    Whereas Toy Cannon Wong can turn on a ball and hit it over the fence, its generally safe to pitch inside to Jon Jay.

  2. CariocaCardinal says:

    seems to be a slight correlation between the difference and winning records

  3. Bw52 says:

    Good comeback.Too bad wasted by failure of the offense and Rosey`s woe plus vegetable armed RF and MM antics/

  4. Bw52 says:

    Whats the point of having LH pinch hitter if you don`t ise them .Drscaso and Kottaras both sat while Eliis stunk and Cruz failed.

  5. JumboShrimp says:

    Mo will want to make some kind of deal this July. It could be a big deal like Price, it could be one or two small deals.
    Mo announced he expects Wacha back this September. But who knows if this will come to pass?
    A lot of things seem unsettled. We signed SS Diaz this spring, and he looked like a good hitting SS. He soon had a bum shoulder and back, of all the rotten luck.
    Wainwright seems ground down. Garcia is gone for the season. Miller is in a slump. Oscar has not hit well in the early going.
    July trades are tough, however. The supplying team wants to be overpaid.

    Its not an easy situation. Good to stay calm and see if a reasonable deal can be found, somewhere.

    • Bw52 says:

      I think Mo will not find a deal to his liking and Cards will have to try and get by with what they got.No help coming .Besides if help was obtained Matheny probably wouldn`t use them anyway.

      • crdswmn says:

        Pitching help he would use.

        I think the Rays are leaning toward keeping David Price. Fine with me, I wouldn’t give them Taveras for him anyway. I wonder why Mozeliak isn’t looking at Ian Kennedy of the Padres? The Pads are out of the race, and he could probably get Kennedy without giving up any top prospects. Heck, they practically gave away Chase Headley. Kennedy would be a nice back end starter.

        • Brian Walton says:

          How would we know who Mo is looking at and who he is not? Not picking on you personally, but I have been wanting to remark about how folks really have short memories about trades. One or two names get thrown out and people obsess about them. Then what happens is the Cards trade for someone else, seemingly out of the blue.

          • crdswmn says:

            We wouldn’t. Just commenting about lack of “chatter” about Cards being interested in Kennedy. The media is pretty relentless about picking up on any “interest”, no matter how vague. Latest interview with Mo he talked about Price, Peavy, and Kurt Suzuki. No Kennedy.

            • Brian Walton says:

              I did not see the interview to which you are referring, but I would be amazed if Mo brought up any new names himself. I can’t imagine that. Did he even bring up the other names or was he asked to comment on them by the interviewer? Normally he says he cannot comment on those matters.

              Frankly, I would be more inclined to think he would talk about names for which he is not engaged, rather than any that are being seriously considered.

              P.S. Then he didn’t bring up Stanton? ;-)

              • crdswmn says:

                He was asked. It was Jim Bowden.

                Here is the link. http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=11254188

                Peavy actually wasn’t asked about specifically , but he was mentioned in Bowden’s tweet about the interview. Price and Suzuki were specifically asked about.

                Mo did say that if they were going to make a trade it would likely be for a SP.

                • Brian Walton says:

                  So, if Bowden would have asked him about Kennedy, Mo probably would have answered in some non-committal way. Pretty hard to draw any conclusions from that, other than maybe your final generic sentence.

                  • crdswmn says:

                    Probably true. If Bowden had any idea that Mo was interested in Kennedy he no doubt would have asked. There has been nothing at all reported linking the Cardinals to Kennedy. Which just led me to wonder whether Mo had even considered him. He would be cheaper than Price and is a better pitcher than Peavy. Seems like a fit to me.

                    • Brian Walton says:

                      So the only names mentioned were by Bowden. And Mo gave no indication about any of them specifically. Since Price, Suzuki and Peavy were already in the news and pitching was generally considered to be the top priority, what did you learn from the interview you didn’t already know?

                    • crdswmn says:

                      I learned that any trade would probably be for a SP.

                      I learned that Mo could consider sending Taveras to Memphis if he doesn’t get playing time.

                      I learned that Mo started wearing bow ties after someone gave him one as a gift.

                      It was only 7 seven minutes of my life I wasted. I just wasted 3 hours watching that abomination of a game, which was a greater crime against humanity.

                    • Brian Walton says:

                      True. It was my first extended look at Alex Cobb, who had regressed this season like Shelby Miller – until now.

                    • crdswmn says:

                      Yeah, I saw that. If they want a lot, they can just keep him then.

                      Strange they would take that stance after taking so little for Chase Headley. Guess the market for pitching is leading in the path of extortion.

  6. JumboShrimp says:

    One reason to make a trade is to try to lift the mood. Since this team does not score much, wins are often not easy. Shuffling a few cards within the deck acknowledges things need to change.
    It is possible to help this team in diverse ways. Another starting pitcher could be helpful for easing up the load on others. Adding an effective hitter would also not be unwelcome.

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