As the St. Louis Cardinals approach Opening Day, many are wondering what are the team’s chances to make it back to the playoff and the Fall Classic.
Chris Bahr, an MLB writer for Foxsports.com, recently came out with reasons why each team will not win the World Series. If you are interested in what he said about all the teams, check it out here. For my fellow Cardinals fans, below is Bahr’s reasoning as for why the St. Louis Cardinals won’t win the World Series.
Bahr points at two of the main things the St. Louis Cardinals were wanting to change for the upcoming season. One of the Cardinals’ goals is to produce a more balanced approach at the plate. While home runs are nice, I believe the Cardinals are more interested in returning to a station to station team.
Another key focus area for the St. Louis Cardinals this off-season was to become more athletic. Which, if you have followed the team throughout the off-season, you would say the team has done with the signing of Dexter Fowler and shifting other players around.
"Even with Dexter Fowler, the reliance on the long ball and lack of athleticism is glaring. (Bahr)"
Bahr clearly believes that the Cardinals missed the mark on both areas and will play a contributing factor in the playoff race. However, I believe he is wrong.
Are the Cardinals not athletic enough?
If you truly don’t believe the team has become more athletic, then you’re wrong. I know Bahr said, “Even with Dexter Fowler…,” but let’s face it. The Cardinals are a more athletic team than they were a year ago, especially in the outfield.
By letting Matt Holliday walk to New York, the Cardinals upgraded their defense by positioning Randall Grichuk in left, where his athleticism and speed can help him be a plus defender.
By sliding Matt Carpenter over to first base, they are banking on Carpenter’s athleticism to help solidify a corner infield position and continue to produce in the lineup. Although Matt Adams has slimmed down this off-season, Carpenter still represents the more athletic choice.
Shoud both Kolten Wong and Aledmys Diaz stay healthy, the St. Louis Cardinals have a young athletic duo up the middle. While Cardinals fans have gotten a glimpse of both players and their abilities, both Wong and Diaz turned to Jose Oquendo to help them increase their athleticism on the field.
Third base is the only position that concerns me when it comes to athleticism, but is it enough to make me worry that much in terms of winning a WS? Not really. If the Giants can win the WS with Pablo Sandoval at third base, then I’ll take my chances with either Jedd Gyroko and/or Jhonny Peralta.
Don’t get me wrong. While the Cardinals are a more athletic team than they were a year ago, don’t expect them to steal over a hundred bases this season. Even if the Cardinals don’t seem athletic enough, I don’t buy it as a reason for why they can’t win it all.
Too Much Power?
Bahr’s other reasoning is a more convincing story for why the St. Louis Cardinals won’t win a championship this season. The Cardinals have been prone to the long ball over the last couple of seasons. The team went from barely hitting 100 HR to hitting over 200 last season.
While the home runs are nice, the team has to find a different way to produce runs and not sacrifice average. A key example from last year would be Jedd Gyorko. Of the ninety-six hits Gyorko had last season, thirty of them were home runs. And in 400 AB, Gyorko hit for a .243 BA.
Need other examples? Brandon Moss hit twenty-eight HR for a .225 average. Randall Grichuk hit twenty-four HR for a .240 average. It’s safe to say that Bahr’s long ball assessment might be, and probably is, true. However, I think I can make the case that the Cardinals will stray from that approach.
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If you look at the roster for the Cardinals and the potential daily lineup they will field, there isn’t much power anywhere. There are about three-to-four guys who have a good shot at hitting twenty or more HR, while the rest will be in limbo between the single digits and teens. With the way the team is built, the Cardinals have no other choice but to change their approach at the plate.
Dexter Fowler is a step in the right direction, but it’s up to the younger players, Grichuk and Wong, to really step into their role and be contributing players. If Grichuk and Wong both find their success from their earlier years, then happy times at Busch. The goal for the team will be to increase their average and occasionally run into the home run.
If you’re not buying Bahr’s two reasons, like me, why won’t the Cardinals win it all then?
Cliche, but pitching still matters
I hate to sound cliché about this, but the Cardinals won’t win the World Series if the starting rotation doesn’t find its form. With the injury to Alex Reyes, the rotation seems to be a lock with Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Mike Leake, Lance Lynn, and Michael Wacha. While the rotation might be set, there are still a lot of questions for the rotation.
Can Wainwright return to form? Will Leake find more success behind an improved defense? Will Martinez take a step back this year? How effective will Lynn be after TJ surgery? Are there injury concerns with Wacha? All of those questions play an important role into this season.
Like the long ball reasoning, the pitching one remains to be seen. Do I think the starting rotation for the Cardinals will be better in 2017? Absolutely. The team has a better overall rotation than a year ago and I expect to see bounce back years from Leake and Wainwright.
While I disagree with Bahr’s reasons for not winning it all, he makes a good point about the long ball. However, I think he is overlooking the pitching situation the Cardinals find themselves in. If the Cardinals are going to make the playoff this year and not have to rely on the long ball, then starting pitching has to be high priority.