Remembering the year 2016 for the St. Louis Cardinals.
2016 was a roller coaster year for the St. Louis Cardinals. In the end, the Cardinals would miss the playoffs for only the eighth time in my life and for the first time since 2010.
I remember beginning the season with a hope for the Cardinals to continue the success they found in 2015. I was sure the offense would be better and that the team’s pitching and defense would hold up. I renewed my MLB.TV subscription during Spring Training because I couldn’t wait for April 3rd. Opening day finally came. As the players hit the field, I assumed my position on my dorm room futon.
The St. Louis Cardinals would go on to get swept that opening series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and 2016 would never live up to the expectations set in 2015. Not only did the St. Louis Cardinals fail to win the division for the first time since 2012, they never once led the division, nor did they even keep it competitive throughout the year.
If the St. Louis Cardinals baseball world needed to be turned even more upside down, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time since this hat was in style:
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) October 29, 2016
Yet, the Cardinals did give their fans meaningful baseball for 162 games this season. They were in the Wild Card race all the way down to the last day before falling short to the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants.
Along the way, the Cardinals gave us many memorable moments. They would set the MLB team record for most home runs hit by pinch hitters in a season, punctuated by a Matt Carpenter game-tying blast on September 6th. The Cardinals would club 225 total dingers to lead the entire National League and trailed only the Baltimore Orioles across all the MLB.
On July 23rd against the Dodgers, Jedd Gyorko mashed a game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth off of Kenley Jansen. Later the next day (but in the same game), Matt Adams would launch this moonshot to walk it off at 12:25 AM. Alex Reyes hit 101 MPH in his Major League debut and showcased his enormous potential over twelve appearances, including five starts.
Of course, there was plenty of bad, too. The St. Louis Cardinals were one of the worst defensive teams in 2016. Injuries kept the team from maximizing it’s potential, especially those to Matt Carpenter, Aledmys Diaz, and Matt Holliday. The Cardinals did not reach 10 games over .500 until the very last game of the season. They held a win-loss record of 1-8 when they were 9 games above .500.
Then there were times where the St. Louis Cardinals reminded anyone watching that baseball can be so much more than just a game.
On September 25th, fans across the MLB woke up to the news that the Miami Marlins young ace Jose Fernandez had passed away in a tragic boating accident. On September 27th in his first game back after attending his childhood friend’s funeral, a teary-eyed Aledmys Diaz received an emotional curtain call following his first career grand slam.
Less than a week later, St. Louis Cardinals fans would be in for another emotional ride. In what would be one of his final at-bats for St. Louis, Matt Holliday stepped to the plate at far less than 100% after returning from a broken thumb. The home run that followed would result in another tear-filled ovation and the happiest anyone has ever heard Dan McLaughlin over a solo shot in a 5-0 ball game.
While the Cardinals failed to give us a taste of the postseason in 2016, they provided us with two moments that transcended the game of baseball. These are memories that will outlast the results of any individual games, series, or season.
In preparation to turn the page to 2017, St. Louis made a splash this offseason in acquiring Dexter Fowler and Brett Cecil. More moves are likely to come. The team will be improved next season with a chance to contend and the farm system is again one of the best. All signs are pointing upward for the future of the St. Louis Cardinals.
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So with that, we close the door on 2016 for the St. Louis Cardinals. Here’s to a successful 2017.