A prolific offense has led the St. Louis Cardinals to strong fortunes in years past, but that doesn’t look to be the case so far in 2017.
Last season, St. Louis came into June averaging around 5.5 runs per game. In their last 11 games, the St. Louis Cardinals have only scored above that clip once.
Following Saturday’s loss against a Chicago Cubs team that lost six straight prior to the series, the St. Louis Cardinals are now under .500 for the deepest time into a season in the Mike Matheny era. The bullpen has struggled and fundamentals have proved sub-par, yet the bats are arguably the most puzzling concern at large as St. Louis wraps up their ninth week of the season.
In fact, St. Louis’ starting eight position players from Opening Night have combined for a 3.1 offensive WAR so far this season, which could pace considerably lower than the 16.6 mark from last year’s starting eight. Checking in on each of these hitters, offensive struggles are evident almost everywhere from top to bottom.
Let’s kick off this struggle analysis by looking through the lineup.
1. Dexter Fowler– CF
2017 ESPN projection: .263 AVG, 93 runs, 16 HR, 49 RBIs
2017 stats: .228 AVG, 30 runs, 8 HR, 20 RBIs
Fowler has picked up his game admirably of late, hitting .296 with three solo home runs this past week. His .767 OPS is actually respectable given a batting average that hovered around the Mendoza line until a few weeks ago. However, Fowler is striking out in nearly a quarter of his at-bats and may have a hard time becoming a 20-20 player with just a pair of stolen bases so far.
2. Aledmys Diaz– SS
2017 ESPN projection: .281 AVG, 68 runs, 15 HR, 63 RBIs
2017 stats: .255 AVG, 20 runs, 5 HR, 14 RBIs
The sophomore slump has been real on a week-to-week basis. Diaz kicked off the Cardinals’ first homestand in strong fashion that included a multi-home run game, but hasn’t recorded any RBIs since May 10.
Diaz is striking out at about the same rate as last season and has only walked ten times this season. Diaz has dropped all the way down to eighth in the order in recent games, and it may take a strong week of at-bats to move back higher in the lineup regularly.