A look back at the top projected stories across the St. Louis Cardinals world in 2015 from last January.
Last January, I published my predictions of the topics I thought could evolve into the top five stories across the Cardinals Nation for the then-coming year of 2015. Today, with the benefit of full hindsight, including the top 20 stories of 2015 countdown now on the books, it is time to take my annual look back at my initial forecast. After all, anyone can make predictions, but how many actually return after the fact to review how they fared?
The original top five projections follow, along with where the stories actually ended up, including links to the appropriate articles. I won’t be repeating my 2015 summaries here, so click on the hot links if you’d like to read those detailed stories.
My predictive powers were better this year. Four of my top five guesses from one year ago made the top 11 with most being direct hits. In one case, the pitching, there were two related, but separate top 20 stories, not to mention individual articles about Carlos Martinez, Jaime Garcia and John Lackey, not listed here.
As always, I also did not predict how the season would end up. As the Cardinals won 100 games, but quickly exited in the post-season, the big pictures turned out to provide the subject of the number one and two stories of 2015.
|Pre-2015 prediction story||rank||rank||Post-2015 actual story|
|Will Broken Wings Fly?||1||4||Historically Great Pitching|
|8||Overcoming Pitching Injuries|
|Healthy Hitting||2||11||Outfield Churn|
|Heyward’s Happiness||3||3||Coming in Second (for Free Agents)|
|Trevor’s Theatrics||4||10||Rosenthal Steps Up|
|Lynn’s Pending Payday||5||NR||None|
Revisiting my predicted top five St. Louis Cardinals stories of 2015.
1. Will Broken Wings Fly?
One year ago, I had specifically expressed concerns about Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha, opining that the 2015 Cardinals would be “dead in the water” without Wainwright making his customary impact on the team.
Unbelievably, the Cardinals staff as a whole was extraordinarily good, even without Wainwright for almost the entire year.
2. Healthy Hitting
After the 2013 season was record-setting in terms of offensive production with runners in scoring position, the 2014 Cardinals hitting predictably dropped off. Yet, it became a concern as evidenced by their smallest run differential of any post-season team that year.
Though the Cardinals run differential improved from just 16 in 2014 to 122 in 2015, it was far more due to the pitching than the hitting. The 2015 offense scored 28 more runs than the year before, but the 2015 pitchers allowed 78 fewer runs.
The key hitters did not remain healthy. Among the core position players, Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina again dealt with injury. So did Matt Adams, Jon Jay and newcomer Randal Grichuk. Up the middle players Jhonny Peralta and Kolten Wong started well, but fell off in the second half.
Jason Heyward delivered no more or less than what was expected with Matt Carpenter being the only regular who clearly exceeded expectations. The July arrival of Stephen Piscotty was an important shot in the arm, earning him an apparent regular role in 2016.
3. Heyward’s Happiness
Given the cost of his acquisition – starting pitcher Shelby Miller and pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins – the Cardinals needed to get a lot out of outfielder Jason Heyward. For 2015 alone, the return was about what could have been expected – standout defense, but so-so offense.
Yet, the long-haul view of the deal is in a big hole. Heyward’s one-year experience with St. Louis was clearly something he did not want to continue, a point he made clear after signing with the rival Chicago Cubs.
The player to be taken by the Cardinals in compensation for the loss of Heyward next June is going to have to become a star for the trade to have a chance of ever coming out positive.
4. Trevor’s Theatrics
Closer Trevor Rosenthal was often shaky in 2014 and the worry was the impact to the team if it continued in 2015. It did not, as Rosenthal improved his performance considerably last season. A spring decision to pitch exclusively from the stretch looked to help greatly with first pitch strikes and retiring first batters faced.
Rosenthal went on to set the team’s single-season save record and blew just three opportunities all season long. Along with veteran starter John Lackey, the 25-year-old was one of the few constants on the Cardinals staff that as noted above, performed very well as a group.
Yet, some believe a regression is just ahead for Rosenthal in 2016.
5. Lynn’s Pending Payday
I guess I stretched to come up with a fifth big story prediction for 2015. Lance Lynn did get his multi-year contract, covering his arbitration years, but going no further.
But the reality was that it was business-as-usual – to the point it did not even register among my top 20 Cardinals stories for the year.
On January 15, Lynn agreed to terms on a three-year, $22 million deal to cover the years of 2015 through 2017. He delivered in year one, but will sit out year two due to Tommy John surgery.
Next up: In my final article of this annual series, I will outline my predictions for the top five Cardinals stories of 2016.
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