Apr 15, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig hits a double to drive in a run in the third inning during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Image Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
In recent days it seems that the Cardinals offense may finally be showing some signs of life. To say that the offense was bad in April, particular given expectations, is somewhat of an understatement. No one realistically expected the team to repeat last year’s record-setting hitting with runners in scoring position, but neither did anyone expect the team to be starving for runs. Now that the team has a month under its belt the small sample sizes are big enough to start making some judgments on what we can expect from players.
By the end of April most of the regulars were at or approaching 100 at bats. Using the 100 at bat line as a dividing line there are six regulars on this team: Matt Carpenter, Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Matt Adams, Yadier Molina, and Jhonny Peralta. For good measure we will toss Jon Jay into our equation. Jay’s 67 at bats in April were far short of 100, but other than Kolten Wong, who is not in Memphis, he is the only one who is over 51. It would be difficult to try to get a sense of any sort of trend with Mark Ellis, Peter Bourjos, Daniel Descalso, or Tony Cruz without enough at bats.
What we know from being one month into the season is that at this point a trend is developing. Players still have five months to improve, but if you had a bad April it is certainly good to be making strides heading into May. Let’s look at the average and power of our main seven hitters over the month of April, and then let’s compare that to how they performed over the last seven days of the month. Those last seven days included the series against the Brewers and Pirates in St. Louis.
In April the Cardinals had one player who hit for the average we all expected (Molina), one player whose average was higher than expected, albeit with less power (Adams), two players who were within striking distance of what we anticipated (Holliday and Jay), and three players whose play was disappointing (Craig, Carpenter, and Peralta). Now let’s take a look at how the month as a whole compares to the last week.
Craig, Peralta, and Holliday are showing signs of heating up, which is a very good thing because his offense needs them. Carpenter is still struggling, and Jay was actually cooling off as the month ended, even with more at bats. If you needed a quick primer on why Randal Grichuk is here and Oscar Taveras soon will be, there it is.
To get a quick snapshot the power numbers of the Cardinals’ hitters we will use the Isolated Power stat. Isolated power is simple enough, take a players slugging percentage, subtract his average, and what you have left is his isolated power number. For comparison, according to the Fangraphs.com website, an average ISO would be around .145. Here is how the core of the offense looked in April.
For the month Molina and Peralta were the only Cardinals who exhibited any power of note. The problem with Peralta’s number is that it is so high primarily because his average was so darn low. He had power, but the lack of average makes his power seem higher than it really was. At the end of the month Holliday, Craig, Adams, and Peralta were flexing their muscles in a way that they had not done for most of the month. Matt Carpenter’s game is not a power game, but an .055 number is far below his .163 number last year. This team needs Carpenter to regain his double-hitting power from last year. This team will never lead the league in home runs, but a pulse in the power department will help to cure a lot of ills.
Is this team’s offense coming to life? There is hope. If Holliday, Craig, Adams, and Peralta can continue their recent gains this team might not have to win every game 1-0. It will also give the team time to figure out what to do with their platoon situations in center field and second base.