Fixing the Cardinals’ Offense


Look, we all know the Cardinals’ offense has been abysmal at times this season and it has looked amazing as well. Currently, the team is mired in a bad slump that has seen them get shutout twice in their last four games. I am not about to give this group of professionals excuses. However, I do want to get a glimpse of part of the reason the offense has been struggling so much this season.

One group of stats I want to bring up are stadium reflective stats. The table you see below represents statistics from the 2013-2014 seasons at Busch Stadium.

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As you can see the only good offensive numbers come from the left hander’s average and on base percentage. We’ve know for some time that Busch has played like a pitchers park. However, maybe this explains some of the offensive woes of this team currently. If you take a look at twitter you see people complaining about the lack of HR and the lack of success from guys like Brandon Moss and Mark Reynolds. Looking at these ballpark stats makes me think that people don’t truly understand how this ballpark plays.

Looking at these numbers shows us that the stadium is almost dead last for HR from both sides of the plate. Looking a tad deeper, Reynolds only has four of his twelve home runs at home, Kolten Wong has five of his eleven at home, same with Jason Heyward, another one to consider is Matt Holliday in parts of seven seasons with the team only has 75 HR at Busch vs. 85 HR at Coors Field in less than five seasons. These numbers make the Mike Matheny and John Mabry focus we have all heard of make sense. You can’t have a HR heavy team in a ballpark that benefits pitchers than it does hitters.

Let’s dive in a little bit deeper to this season’s stats and see what else is holding this offense back this season. As a team there are currently six starters hitting above the .260 mark (not counting Randal Grichuk), the team has a slash of .254/.322/.391 with a .713 OPS and 93 OPS+. Not good numbers at all.

Given the park they play the majority of their games in. I do not think the offense is THAT bad. Yes, we have seen some clunker games lately but in all reality we have seen worse.

One point to make here is that the team is currently playing without some very key contributors on offense in Grichuk and Holliday (and maybe Adams). This is leading to guys like Moss, Reynolds, Jay, and Bourjos getting a significant amount of playing time and not doing well with their playing time. As a whole these four players alone are hitting a dismal .202, barely over the Mendoza line. If you reduce half of these players at bats and hits you increase the overall team average by ten points!

This is not even taking into effect what a healthy Grichuk and Holliday in this lineup would bring success wise (most likely somehwere around a .270-.290 combined average).

This takes me into another factor in the offensive struggles this season. A popular hashtag on twitter has become #Mathenaging, this basically is a shot at Matheny’s lineup construction. Matheny has not been very good at creating a lineup that effectively combats their offensive issues as a team lately. There have been times where Matheny has improved in this season in this aspect, but lately he has not been as good at it.

There have been two players of late that have kind of gotten the ignore button from him in terms of the lineup.Those players are Tommy Pham and Greg Garcia. Pham has been up since Grichuk went down with the injury last month. Over that time he has posted and OBP over .400 and has had a knack for scoring runs.

However, since Jon Jay came back from the disabled list last Friday he has been in the lineup for the majority of the games, with Peter Bourjos getting two starts and Pham not getting a start at all. This has made very little sense given the difference in success between the three players this season.

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Yesterday morning on his radio show, Bernie Miklasz said Matheny needs to “not be afraid to give the young guys a chance,” meaning stop penciling in

Jon Jay

just based off of the fact that he has been on the team the longest and ignoring the fact that he has not been the same player this season that he once was.

The other player he was referencing with that statement was Greg Garcia. Last night we saw what Garcia can do, He got a shot to play and he has two hits in the game so far one being a HR to dead center. Jhonny Peralta is struggling right now, since the second half started he has been one of the worst hitters in the league. This after being the most consistent offensive performer during the first half. Garcia can come in and play when needed for Peralta, Matt Carpenter, or Wong. However, with the recent injury to Wong, Matheny has been trotting Reynolds out at third and putting Carpenter at second.

This has not been working. Reynolds is way overexposed as a starter and we have seen that ever since Adams went down earlier in the year. However, Matheny for some reason still trusts him over Greg Garcia. I really believe that if the offense is going to get better, Matheny has to play the guys who are hitting, not the players who have been there the longest.

Really, to fix this offense and to get it ready for the playoffs they just need to get their guys back. They may come back a little rust at the start, but that’s what these next few weeks are for. Matheny should have a longer leash with them as they get acclimated but if they are bad and not improving, he has to be willing to give someone else a shot and see what happens.

So, Cardinals fans, take a deep breath and relax. The issues will fix themselves sooner rather than later and the offense will improve, but please don’t expect this team to all of a sudden become the Toronto Blue Jays. That’s not who they are and it won’t ever work like that in Busch III.

Enjoy, this sort of double header today!