St. Louis Cardinals: The state of the Birds’ offense so far

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 26: Tommy Pham
PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 26: Tommy Pham /

Many would look at the St. Louis Cardinals assortment of batting averages and assume the team is performing poorly offensively. But, that’s not necessarily true.

Twenty-two games into the season, the St. Louis Cardinals sit at 13-9. It’s been a pretty good start to the 2018 season, at least record-wise. Many people, me included, have complained about the offense thus far. There’s some bad, sure, but there is also a lot of good right now.

First, the bad…

Marcell Ozuna is hitting .233 with a .581 OPS. He’s 1-23 in his last six games. He only has two home runs and 11 RBI. Dexter Fowler is hitting .192 with a .651 OPS. Both have been worth -0.1 fWAR so far. If you believe in WAR, then they have been worse than a replacement-level player.

Matt Carpenter is hitting .167 with a .632 OPS. He does have 18 walks so far but otherwise looks completely clueless at the plate. He’s been moved from third in the lineup to leadoff, in hopes that he would break out of his slump. Well, it hasn’t worked… yet.

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Kolten Wong is currently batting .173 with a .564 OPS. He has shown some signs of life the past two games, going 3-7 with a home run and two RBI. Hopefully, that continues.

So right now, the St. Louis Cardinals have four regulars hitting under .240 with OPS’s under .700. This is not good. And, on the surface, and if you are a fan that watches most of the games, it appears that the Cardinals strike out way too much.

We don’t steal many bases. We’re all or nothing – home run or strikeout. We don’t get on base a lot. How can there be any good in the lineup?!

First, I must admit I was surprised by many of these statistics. I thought the St. Louis Cardinals offense was in much worse shape at this point in the season. However, this is not the case.

The St. Louis Cardinals rank second in the National League with 31 home runs. They have two less than the Colorado Rockies, who play at Coors Field and who have played three more games this season. They rank fifth in the NL in runs per game.

They rank fourth in the NL in BB% at 10.7%. They actually have the sixth lowest K% in the NL at 23.1%. Their ISO (isolated power) sits at .168, fourth in the NL. They are tied for fourth in batting average at .248. They are third with a .334 OBP, third in slugging, and third in OPS.

Not that bad, right? With four regulars struggling so badly, how has the offense been this good? Tommy Pham, Jose Martinez, Yadier Molina, and Paul DeJong – that’s how.

Pham is hitting .348 with a .998 OPS. He has hit three home runs, stole five bases, walked more than he’s struck out, and has already been worth 1.3 fWAR, which is 11th in all of baseball. This would be 9.6 WAR after 162 games – that’s MVP-type production.

JMart is hitting .321/.398/.506 (average, OBP, slugging). He has three home runs and 16 RBI. He is now hitting third in the lineup, and I don’t see him moving from that spot for awhile.

Molina, after hitting 18 home runs last year, has continued his power resurgence. After hitting just 12 home runs in 1,022 at-bats from 2015-16, Yadi has exactly twice that amount in 582 at-bats since the start of the 2017 season. He’s hitting .309/.326/.568. He also has 16 RBI.

Paul DeJong, while not hitting for the average the others are, has hit seven home runs and driven in 14 runners. He has an .886 OPS so far. He’s been worth 0.8 fWAR, which would translate to 5.9 WAR over the course of the entire season. That’s really good. I’ve written this many times… DeJong, in my opinion, will never be a .300 hitter. He just swings and misses too much. But, I think he will be a .270ish hitter with 30+ home runs for many years to come. I’ll take that from our shortstop.

Next: Top 10 prospects and their 2018 so far

Did these ranks surprise you guys as much as they did me? Imagine how good the offense will be when Carp, Fowler, Wong, and Ozuna start hitting. Let me know what you think. Thanks for reading.