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Cardinals Increased Run Scoring Translates to Wins

As St. Louis Cardinals fans have seen all season long, the 2014 club has featured solid pitching along with an under-performing offense that remains last in the National League in run scoring. Despite that imbalance, the Cardinals are 12 games over .500 and just a half-game out of first place heading into Sunday’s action.

That pitching-hitting imbalance has shifted somewhat over the last 10 games. It is not surprising the club is 8-2 during that time because the offense has improved substantially as measured by the most basic, yet important measure – runs put on the scoreboard.

Prior to the current period, the Cardinals were averaging just under 3.8 runs per game this season. Over the last 10, they have improved upon that average by just over 1.5 runs additional per contest to 5.3 runs per game.

Another factor is consistency. In all 10 contests, the team scored at least four runs (and never more than seven). That is especially notable given the Cards’ offense has been shut out 11 times already this season.

Cardinals offense Runs per game NL rank
2014 last 10 games (8/13-23) 5.30
2014 first 118 games (thru 8/12) 3.78 15
2013 4.83 1
2012 4.72 2
2011 4.70 1
2010 4.54 6

It is unlikely that 5.30 runs per game rate can be sustained over the remainder of the season, but it is worth noting that the last four Cardinals clubs have generally been in the 4.5 to 4.8 runs per game territory over 162 games. Another point of reference is that the top run-scoring team in the National League this season, the Colorado Rockies, is scoring at a 4.67 rate over the first 129 games, a reminder that scoring is down overall across MLB this season.

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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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36 Responses to “Cardinals Increased Run Scoring Translates to Wins”

  1. Bw52 says:

    Cards rolling over like a big doggie turd today.Making Jerome freaking Williams look like CY Young.Lousy offense shows up again.How come everybody hits homers in Philly but the punchless Judys (AKA Stlouis Cards).Man up boys and hit the damn ball hard.

  2. blingboy says:

    Hummel suggested that the Cards need Masterson to take half of the upcoming cubs DH, but if it is another dud, a change in the rotation might have to happen. And this would happen before roster expansion. Hmmm. Any ideas what might happen?

    Personally, I find it hard to believe Mo would bail on his trade this soon, however compelling the case may be. He is very slow on the trigger.

  3. Bw52 says:

    it will be interesting to see if Mo has the gumption to dump some deadwood on the 40 ,man and add a Pham or Scott Moore or Xavier Scruggs.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Pham, I hope so. Scruggs maybe, though he plays just one position and is very streaky. Moore, I’d guess not. He is a good guy to have in Triple-A, but would seem to have no future in the majors. Makes little sense to use a 40-man spot.

      Who do you see as 40-man deadwood? Remember that Wacha needs one spot.

      • crdswmn says:

        I would think Pham and Grichuk, maybe Kozma. Pitchers? Lyons? Maybe Gonzalez?

        Do you think Mo will wait until Memphis season is over? If they make the playoffs, that could be middle of September. He night not want to wait that long.

      • Bw52 says:

        Butler to the 60-DL -clears a spot
        Jorge Rondon RHP-drop Rondon.Fornataro RH and ahead in pecking orderFornataro already on roster.
        Shane Robinson OF-it won`t happen but his time should be done and Grichuk and or Pham can be RH OF and defensive replacement.
        Audry Perez-he played 1 game in 3 plus weeks last September.He got 1 AB in 3 or 4 days this season…….why not promote and protect Cody Stanley LH bat decent defense at Catcher

        Xavier Scruggs 1B could see if he offers a bench bat?

        there are a couple others like Rafael Ortega OF in AA but he is only 21 and supposed to have potential so I think he gets AAA next year.Kozma another one who I don`t see a need for.Designated defender?

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    One guy getting exposed is C Tony Cruz, 4 for his last 31 at bats, batting average around .130 during his last 10 games. Matheny may think Cruz is better catching sinker, so Mike gave Tony two starts in Philadelphia against RHPs. This did not matter today, but did matter Friday when Cruz batted in the first with a runner at third base; three already in. Cruz got Kendrick out of a jam, whereas Pryzinski might have made a difference. I sure hope we do not see Tony Cruz in Pittsburg unless against an LHP.

    Taveras got his batting average above that of Allen Craig. Oscar is batting above .300 during his lst 10 games.

    On Saturday night, why did Mike try to make Choate pitch beyond an inning? Randy is really a LOOGY and should be used as such, frequently. If Mo retains Matheny for 2015, he better try to trade Choate this winter.

  5. JumboShrimp says:

    Lemme count the southpaws: Choate, Lyons, Greenwood, and Freeman. Freeman already got used, so we had 3 more lefties available who Matheny could have used to matchup against Davis. Why did Mo bring up Lyons, for Matheny not to use relievers?
    One thing about TLR, he liked to commit troops to trying to win the battle.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      We got outmanaged tonight. It was not hard for Hurdle. We have Maness on the mound, send up a left swinger, not rocket science. We have three lefties in the pen, but Mike is deer the headlights unable to make a simple pitching change. Game over.

      Matheny has the tactical agility of a tree stump.

      • crdswmn says:

        Tree stumps are smarter. Don’t insult them.

        • JumboShrimp says:

          We have a roster pulling down something like $115 million, the stakes are high. Its disheartening for our players (and fans) to have to endure strange tactical decisions.

          Maybe I was asleep during 2012-13 and did not notice weak managing back then. I generally just look at the final box score. if I follow the game as it happens, like tonight, poor decisions become more apparent.

          Mike had to retire after he got his bell rung too many times. Maybe as a result the poor chap is no longer competing with a full complement of cells, up between the ears. Sigh.

  6. Bw52 says:

    Matheny strikes again.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      One element in managing is to know when you have to make a pitching change, to protect your own reputation. If Mike brings in Greenwood or Choate and he surrenders a HR, then its the lefty’s fault, not the manager’s, because the manager has made the right move.
      But if Mike leaves in Maness and something bad happens, then he looks like an imbecile. Its managerially incompetent to put yourself in a position to look so dopey.

  7. JumboShrimp says:

    Mike offered an unpersuasive explanation for his brain freeze, that Hurdle would have sent up a right swinging pinch-hitter. This is of course true, but irrelevant. Matheny gets paid to make moves for our team, Hurdle for the ‘Rats. The game is on the line, 2 out, bottom of the 8th, the Cards manager is expected to make a move. If the Pirates counter-move, fine, that’s their choice and privilege. Matheny still has to uphold his side, to show fans that he is trying. He has an enormous bullpen right now, so use pitchers.

    • crdswmn says:

      So Hurdle brings in Jordy Mercer. Mercer is not a power guy like Davis. He’s only hit 2 of his 7 HRs against lefties. Hurdle has a short bench so you make him burn two guys and you take your chances with Mercer. If he gets an out, or if he drives in a run, it is still a winnable game, and Hurdle only has Chris Stewart left on his bench. I like those odds better than Davis against Maness.

        • JumboShrimp says:

          Choate versus Mercer, Davis versus Maness. A single probably wins the game. What is the best choice? If Maness had gotten Davis out, as he will sometimes, then Matheny would have made the right choice.

          I figure Old Choate is getting paid $3MM per year on his final contract. I would use Choate over and over to face one or two batters per appearance, until his arm falls off. If Choate gives up a game winning hit, he has more money to console himself with than does Maness. TLR liked to say he wanted to put guys in a favorable position, so TLR probably would have put Maness in the more favorable position of the bench and let the old vet face Mercer.

          But this would not have ensured a better outcome. Mercer could have easily singled and won the game for the Rats.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      The choice Mike made, sticking with Maness, is most pitcher efficient. Matheny has taken flak from Bernie and myself, among others, regarding ridiculous over-use of Rosenthal, so not entirely surprising if he efficiently minimizes use of pitchers, before the roster expansion days of September.
      Nonetheless, Mo knows what Mike is like, by now, and expressly brought up Lyons, to supply depth at reliever, headed into the Pittsburg series.
      Going up against Cole in Pittsburg is tough. Lynn did a good job, but it was the right decision to lift him after 6 innings. Lynn had thrown enough pitches, plus our pinch-hitter delivered the tying run.
      I was surprised Matheny did not pinch-hit Grichuk for Taveras and then Bourjos for the pitcher, but Oscar came through with a single off a tough lefty. In the top of the 7th, things broke Matheny’s minimalist way and he looked like a genius.
      The bottom of the 8th, Matheny minimized use of pitchers, knowing Hurdle could maintain a match-up advantage of Mercer versus Choate. If he had called on Choate, then the responsibility for losing would more lie with Choate. If Matheny sticks with Maness, however, then he himself collects more responsibility for the loss. Making pitching changes can be an effective public relations tactic for any manager.

      • Brian Walton says:

        Jumbo, you come up with some odd ideas. I do not think this manager, or any major league manager for that matter, makes in-game decisions for PR reasons.

        I would be very interested if you could provide even one example in the history of MLB of a manager admitting that. (The time Bill Veeck ran the stunt of having fans in the stands hold up cards to decide moves does not count!)

        • JumboShrimp says:

          Managers get fired. Baseball history is littered with plentiful examples. Thus, one important intrinsic survival function for managers (and equally for GMs) is how to shape the apportionment of blame. Even in a successful season, there are many losses. Fans get mad. The blame game is important. PR is important. I am impressed how PR sophisticated and thus conscious the Cards can sometimes be.

          • Brian Walton says:

            Yes, the Cards as an organization are very PR-conscious. You have not connected that in any way to in-game managerial decisions, however. You seem to not draw a distinction between WHY decisions are being made with HOW they may be explained.

            To be crystal clear, I do not believe one iota that Matheny’s matchup choices are driven by PR reasons. However, how they (and everything else) are explained to us can be offered with a twist.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Another advantage, modest, with sticking with Maness is he takes full responsibility for 3 earned runs. He gave them up, they get added to his ERA and cost him a bit of earning potential. When there are two guys on base, a manager could decide to stick with a pitcher, figuring nobody has more incentive for those two runners not to score than the man who put them on base, in the first place.

        So to summarize, the advantages of last night choices by Mike are:
        1. Minimal use of relievers, which strengthens us for todays game.
        2. Pins all the earned runs on the responsible pitcher, Maness.

        The disadvantage for Mike is he chose to present himself as inept, by shunning matchup decisions in the bottom of the 8th.

  8. Bw52 says:

    It appears the offense has gone into hibernation along with Wainwright`s ace pitching.Has Lyons pitched yet?

    • crdswmn says:

      It’s more difficult to score runs when most of your lineup hits singles and plays station to station baseball.

      The lack of extra base hitting has really hurt. The team ISO (Isolated Power) is .119. That is the lowest since the 1992 team.

      Bad baserunning hasn’t helped either. Pitching and defense are what has kept this team in the race.

      Wainwrigh says he is going through a “dead arm” phase. Maybe he is and maybe he isn’t. Lyons hasn’t pitched yet.

      • Bw52 says:

        Except for Wong,Bourjos and Jay this is a ststion to station team.Little speed and as you pointed out.little power.I was being sarcastic about Lyons…………….I don`t think MM would know what to do with a good bench if he had it.He obviously knows how to misuse a bullpen and waste people in the pen.I hope it`s just a “dead ” arm but wouldn`t a dead arm get better with some rest? I appreciate AW and his competitiveness but why not skip a couple of turns?

        • crdswmn says:

          Jay’s strength is hitting for average by hitting a lot of singles. He hits 80% singles. Nothing wrong with that, it’s a good skill to have on a team that has power elsewhere. Unfortunately this one doesn’t, or at least is not doing it for some reason. The predominance of singles hitting is one of the big reasons the team is 29th in run scoring.

          But Jay is a below average baserunner. Wong and Bourjos are much better baserunners but are just not getting on base enough. Ironically, Bourjos is walking more than Wong. I say ironically, because Brian reported at the beginning of the season that Bourjos said he doesn’t walk much and yet he is walking at a higher rate this season than his career average (maybe someone talked to him). If Wong walked more, his OBP would be higher. Additionally, Bourjos is a little faster than Wong, but is more tentative about stealing and has a tendency to overslide the base. He needs to work on this. Wong is a more skillful baserunner than Bourjos, just not quite as fast. The speed would help the situation, but since Bourjos doesn’t play much he isn’t going to be a lot of help. Wong has also been stealing less for some reason.

          Mozeliak said in an interview today that resting Wainwright is something he would consider.

  9. […] As an important point of reference, at the time of the discussion, the Cards were 8-2 in their prior ten games, having increased their scoring by 1.5 runs per game over their prior league-lowest rate. (Details here.) […]

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