Cardinal Nation has seen the St. Louis Cardinals mired in a terrible slump for the last 3 weeks. Since July 26, the first game of the Braves series that started a disastrous 11 game road trip, the Cardinals have gone 7-15, lost 4 of 5 to the Pirates, 2 of 3 to the Dodgers and 3 of 4 to the lowly Cubs. The starting pitching, other than Joe Kelly, has looked sluggish, and the offense has been practically non existent. One bright spot has been the heating up of Matt Holliday, who got a very slow start and then was stalled by a stint on the DL during the All Star Break. On the other hand, Holliday’s resurgence has been tempered by the almost total collapse of the rock of the lineup, Allen Craig.
Aug 5, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig (21) looks on before he bats during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Busch Stadium. Los Angeles defeated St. Louis 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Since July 26, Allen Craig has hit .208, with an OBP of .307 and a SLG of .273. This is not a little slump, this is soul crushingly bad. Craig has struck out 20 times in those 21 games, and when he does make contact with the ball it is generally a weak ground ball. When he comes to bat these days, he just looks totally lost. While Cardinals fans have been focused on pounding current whipping boys Pete Kozma and David Freese, Craig’s collapse has gone largely unnoticed. The good thing about stats is that they can highlight failures in perception.
So what is the cause of Craig’s troubles? First off, pretty much the entire team has slumped during this period. Craig’s fall of the cliff, however, has been steeper and more troubling. It could just be fatigue, Craig has started 20 of the 21 games during this period. So perhaps some time off would help. It certainly couldn’t hurt. With the availability of Matt Adams off the bench to start at 1B, it would seem the smart thing to do to give Craig a rest. He is not doing the team any favors with his current performance.
Craig was due to regress from the frenetic pace he was setting. But this current downturn is a little over the top for it to be due solely to a normal statistical correction. Fatigue can be added to the mix, but is there more? I cannot begin to guess what other factors might be contributing but one thing I do know is that this cannot continue for much longer. A great deal of the Cardinals’ success has been due to Craig’s ability to get runs across the plate with his bat. If that goes for an even longer stretch than it has already, the Cardinals are in a world of hurt.
So Mike Matheny, give Craig a break and bench him for his own good and that of the team. And let’s all hope that is all that is needed.