St. Louis Cardinals: Five reasons why the 2017 season was fun to watch

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 8: Tommy Pham #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate after scoring a run against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fourth inning at Busch Stadium on September 8, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 8: Tommy Pham #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate after scoring a run against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fourth inning at Busch Stadium on September 8, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

With seven games left in the 2017 season, the St. Louis Cardinals are making a playoff push. But no matter what the result winds up being, this season was enjoyable to watch.

Disclaimer: Obviously there are more than five reasons why the 2017 season for the St. Louis Cardinals was a joy to watch (well, at least I hope you think that). But these are my top five reasons.

Without further ado, here we go!

#5 – Tommy Pham’s Breakout

If you look in the dictionary for the definition of “spark plug” you will find a picture of Tommy Pham. For some odd reason if you do not see this, then your dictionary is broken and should be replaced immediately. How the organization let Matt Adams play pretend outfielder over Pham playing a legitimate one for so long is beyond me.

After being called up on May 5th, Pham helped the Cardinals win six straight games. In total Pham’s record in games that he has started is 60-50. This record is one of the best on the team because Pham has been one of the most productive, if not THE most productive, player on the Cardinals. Sporting the first 20/20 season since outfielder Reggie Sanders did so in 2004, Pham has been what the Cardinals needed in a team mired with inconsistency.

Among all qualified outfielders, Pham is fourth in batting average, third in on-base percentage, and eighth in slugging percentage. For the sabermetrics crowd, Pham is fourth in wRC+, eighth in BsR, and fifth in WAR. With a guaranteed spot on next season’s roster, there will be plenty more wham, bam, thank you Pham moments.

#4 – Ageless Yadi

Father Time cannot defeat everyone, and so far Yadier Molina is keeping Father Time far away from him. Despite being on pace for a career high strikeout rate and a career low walk rate, Molina has put up some of the best offensive numbers of his career at the age of 34/35.

More from Redbird Rants

With eighteen home runs and eighty-two RBI, not only is Molina performing better than his arch-rival (in terms of fans saying who is better than Yadi) Buster Posey, but he is one of the top offensive catchers in the game this season in general.

We are seeing numbers from Yadier that we have not seen since 2012-2013, and I swear if someone says “he is on roids” I will fight you.

Yadi has also been a part of two fantastic moments this season: rally cat and his home run at the All-Star Game. 2017 has been Yadi’s year, proving he deserved his extension.

#3 – Middle Infield Steps Up

When Aledmys Diaz went on a downward spiral, it was tough to see anyone replacing the 2016 Rookie of the Year candidate. In steps Paul DeJong, who homered in his first MLB at-bat on May 28th as a pinch-hitter. After that glorious swing, he became the full-time shortstop.

DeJong’s double play partner, Kolten Wong, finally achieved his breakout season although it has been an injury filled one. Cutting down on trying to hit for power, Wong has produced career highs in AVG, OBP, and SLUG due to his twenty-seven doubles in 107 games (hit 28 doubles in 150 games in 2015).

Even though the two are not the slickest fielders in the game (22 errors combined), their bats have been a key part to the lineup’s success. Wong’s new approach and DeJong’s power should be fun to watch, especially if Wong is able to bat at the top of the order consistently.

#2 – Second Half Surge

Sadly the cards are stacked against the St. Louis Cardinals as of right now. Seven games remain in the 2017 season and four are against the Chicago Cubs, a team that completed a sweep of the Redbirds eight days ago and are 4-11 against all year.

No matter how the season ends, you have to tip your cap to the Cardinals for making things interesting. After a 43-45 first half, the Cardinals were 7 1/2 games back of the Colorado Rockies for the second NL Wild Card spot.

Using some vintage Cardinals devil magic, the team has gone 38-29 in the second half and are 2 1/2 games back of the Rockies. Sure, hope for a spot in the playoffs looks bleak, but at the break the Cardinals were all but written off from contention by most analysts…mathematically speaking, right Bob?.

#1 – Mike Matheny’s Improvements As Manager

Just kidding.

Actually #1 – Memphis’ Rise and MLB Impact

Your Pacific Coast League Champions have had an underrepresented impact on the current day St. Louis Cardinals. Here was your Opening Day lineup for the MLB squad:

CF Dexter Fowler

SS Aledmys Diaz

1B Matt Carpenter

3B Jhonny Peralta

C Yadier Molina

RF Stephen Piscotty

2B Jedd Gyorko

LF Randal Grichuk

P Carlos Martinez

Next: Hurricane Maria relief for Puerto Rico

Since then, players such as Pham, DeJong, Luke Weaver, John Brebbia, Harrison Bader, and plenty more have been called up. All five players mentioned have been key parts to this second half surge. And despite not having them, Memphis still won the PCL title. That is a testament to how good the St. Louis Cardinals’ farm system is and it should be good for years to come.