St. Louis Cardinals: Revisiting my prediction twenty-two games ago

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 26: Randal Grichuk
ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 26: Randal Grichuk /

Now that the St. Louis Cardinals’ season has come to a close, I look back at a prediction I made on how the season would end for the team.

Three weeks ago, I boldly stated the St. Louis Cardinals would find a way to make the playoffs, via the second Wild Card spot. With some thoughtful analysis on the remaining games with the Central division, I believed the Cardinals could sneak out eighty-seven wins by October 2nd. While I knew I was asking for more than what the team had given us this year, I still believed.

Three weeks later, it’s October 2nd, and the St. Louis Cardinals are not in the playoffs. My prediction of the Cardinals going 15-7 in their last twenty-two games blew up in my face. Sadly, I truly believed the Cardinals could pull of such a feat. At the start of the twenty-two games, they were the hottest team in the Central. By October 1st, they were completely drained of any will.

Yesterday, I provided my reaction to the St. Louis Cardinals’ elimination from playoff contention. Like many of you, I am frustrated, angry, and maybe not surprised. The Cardinals had opportunity after opportunity to take control of this division, but failed to do so when it matter most. That’s when I got to thinking, how close did I really come to my prediction twenty-two games ago?

Related Story: It all comes down to the division

Let’s take a look back at what I said needed to happen in order for the Cardinals to make the playoffs. For my full comments from that prediction, click the link above.

"“The St. Louis Cardinals will take four of six from the Pirates, all six from the Reds, and five of seven from the Cubs. This will have them at the 87-win mark by the time Milwaukee comes to town for the final series. Those three games against the Brewers are the margin of error the Cardinals essentially have the rest of the way. They can afford a slip up or two, but no more than three.”"

I don’t really think I was asking too much of the St. Louis Cardinals with this prediction. However, I was banking on the Cardinals recent success to carry them over the hump. Here is what I used to help calculate my prediction:

OpponentGames remaining2017 W%Expected Wins
Total games229.1

As you can see, at the time not great. However, as I said, the Cardinals had played better, and I believed that momentum would carry them over the hump. Now, lets see how they ended up.

OpponentGames remaining2017 W%Expected WinsPredicted winsActual Wins
Total games229.11511

Division play matters, right? It’s just painfully obvious where the fault ended up being with the St. Louis Cardinals. So where di the Cardinals go wrong?

Recall I mentioned the Cardinals only had about three give-away games they could afford. I preferably would have liked those games to be against the Brewers after a clinching a playoff spot, but that didn’t happen thanks in large part to a couple of series.

The first was the first series against the Reds. The Cardinals were coming off a weekend sweep of the Pirates before heading to Cincy. It was imperative for the Cardinals to sweep the Reds before heading to Chicago. Given what we saw in Chicago later that week, a sweep of the Reds would have been nice.

The second series that completely derailed everything, was the second series against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. If the Chicago sweep was a gut punch, then the Pittsburgh series was no different. Losing two games to the Pirates in a crucial moment all but took the wind out of the Cardinals’ sails. Those two losses doomed the Cardinals before playing Chicago once more.

Related Story: Elimination is in the division

However, let me address the most obvious problem the Cardinals faced the last twenty-two games. If you need a place to put a majority of the blame on, look no further than the seven games against the Cubs. A 1-6 record in the heat of the playoffs is not even good enough, ever. Not only did you lose six of seven to the Cubs, but you also lost fourteen of nineteen games against the Cubs.

What was the difference in standings between the Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals? No big deal, a mere nine games, like their season series.

A 34-42 record in your division is not good enough to get the playoffs. I don’t care who you are playing, but you have to find a way to win games. Did I expect too much of the Cardinals in their game against the Cubs? Probably, but the Cardinals had no other choice to go through them because of their inability to beat the Pirates and Reds handily earlier in the season.

Maybe that last thought is why fans are so angry/frustrated with this team. They know we are better than the Reds and Pirates, yet all we have to show for this season is a 10-9 record against the Reds and a 11-8 record against the Pirates. Two teams whose division records were as good or better than the Cardinals.

At the end of the day, what didn’t make this any easier was the fact the Rockies didn’t feel like helping the Cards out one bit. But kudos to them for taking care of business early on. Had the Cards done that, maybe we are talking about game 163 or the Wild Card instead.

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As much as some of you will scoff at this, I still think the Cardinals could have fulfilled my prediction and possibly bested it. But as the season has gone, one thing that will stick with the 2017 season is the Cardinals, as good as they were sometimes, were never really a contender.