St. Louis Cardinals: The Good, Bad and Ugly from Pittsburgh
By Landon Clapp
The Bad: Anemic Offense
The Cardinals are now down to a .125 average (3-24) with runners in scoring position thus far.
They are averaging more than 12 strikeouts per nine innings with a measly five extra-base hits through the season’s first three contests.
The seven runs scored in three games is pretty bad, but at least we aren’t the Padres (they’re yet to score a run in 2016).
Not surprisingly, the Cardinals are in the bottom five of baseball in batting average, on base percentage, and slugging.
Only the Blue Jays have struck out more times (46) than the Cardinals (37).
Clearly, there are very few positives with the Cardinals offense right now. Getting out of frigid Pittsburgh should be of benefit, but that still doesn’t change the fact that the offense has seemed lifeless for the better part of three weeks now (going back into spring training).
The Cardinal offense doesn’t have any kind of an identity. They have little power and less speed. They haven’t been a group to grind at-bats, as evidenced by the 37 strikeouts, and the overstock of left-handed hitters was exploited by Pittsburgh’s left-handed pitching all series long.
Most disappointing has been their approach within at-bats. They’ve been timid when they should be aggressive. They’ve chased when they need to show discipline.
The formula for Pittsburgh pitching was simple; get ahead early in the count and expand. The Cards played right into their hand by taking their way into two-strike counts and chasing the bad ones that followed.
The “big bats” let the Pittsburgh arms get in on their hands with the hard stuff and gave away at-bats going after the bad ones out of the zone.
That’s the most troubling thing about the offense so far this year. Even when they struggled through most of 2015, they were still putting together quality at-bats.
They made the opposing pitchers work to get them out, rarely going down without a fight.
The first three games, the Cardinals haven’t done much more than strike out or roll over with a whimper.
Warmer weather, lesser opposing pitching and simply the law of averages will help in the coming weeks… but I wouldn’t expect things to be much (if any) better than they were last year.
Hopefully, we are in for a pleasant surprise.
Next: The Ugly: Just Bad Baseball