Spring Training Worries for the Cardinals
I will admit that I have not followed the ins and outs of each spring training game. I mainly follow the stories that mean more to the regular season and casually pay attention to the score updates as they flow through my phone. However, I have been thinking that after a strong and dominant start to spring, the team seems to be living in a state of mediocrity and a borderline punch-less offense. Should this spring be cause for concern for our team?
Currently the Cardinals are sitting with a record of 12-10 placing them 6th overall in the Grapefruit League standings. This is not that great of a record and not something that excites me as a Cardinals fan but it is not something to get too worried about just yet. For this reason, let’s get into the stats behind the Cardinals’ record. Currently, the Cardinals are dead last in terms of runs scored in the Grapefruit League behind the Philadelphia Phillies and Minnesota Twins who are both under the 100 runs mark as well. An interesting thing to note, is that only three teams (Mets, Tigers, Orioles) in the Grapefruit League wouldn’t place last in the Cactus League’s runs scored category. This is a little of a cause for concern here for a team that finished 24th a season ago in this same category. The team also finds itself with a team average of .254 placing them 25th overall in the MLB, an average similar to this saw them finish 16th in all of MLB last season. Again not a very encouraging stat for a team that needs to improve offensively to keep the Pittsburgh Pirates off their heels.
One way to see how the stats will potentially translate to the regular season is to have a look at the previous two springs and their correlating regular season. Let’s see how the cardinals did in all three slash categories (BA, OBP, SLG). Last spring in 26 games played the Cardinals finished 24th in Runs, 20th in BA and OBP, and 24th in SLG. The season saw them go 24th, 16th, and 23rd in those three categories. The 2013 spring shows that they had a much better time offensively (16th, 8th, 20th in the three slash categories). In that season the Cardinals finished play (27th, 3rd, 12th). What this shows me is that offensively spring training is at least a slight precursor to how the season will go in terms of offensive statistics.
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Pitching on the other hand may be a bit of a different story given how many different pitchers are used in the earlier spring training games. Currently, the best thing going for the Cardinals this spring is their pitching. This really comes of no surprise knowing how deep the team’s pitching is. Currently the Cardinals are the league leader in runs allowed with 84 with no team coming within 20 runs. Again, this is no surprise as the Cardinals are rich in pitching especially with the odd man out in the rotation, Marco Gonzales having an awesome spring allowing 2 ER in 17.1 IP for an ERA of 1.04 and a WHIP of 1.038.
Taking a look at the past two total seasons (spring and regular), we see about the same thing for pitching as we do for the offense. What you see in spring is about what you are going to see in the regular season as in 2014 the Cardinals finished spring 16th in runs allowed and 19th in WHIP and then were 9th in runs allowed and 10th in WHIP in the regular season. In 2013 we see the Cardinals had a similar spring to this season finishing 2nd to the Miami Marlins in ERA and 7th in WHIP, they then finished 5th and 8th in the regular season.
It seems as if the pitching is going to carry us this season if spring is any evidence to how the season will go and history shows that it does give us at least an idea on where this team will finish statistically. Now, I know that two seasons is a fairly small sample size. However, the reason why I used such a small sample size, is that the team has not changed a whole lot in terms of players. Honestly, I believe the offense is going to be better than it has been during spring. With the addition of Jason Heyward and maturation of Kolten Wong, Randal Grichuk, and Matt Adams; I really see this team performing offensively in a much different/better way.