Even at age 40, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright has one of the best curveballs in baseball. But we all knew that.
When you think of Adam Wainwright, a lot of things come to mind. A storied tenure with the St. Louis Cardinals. Being a top-of-the-rotation arm for nearly two decades. His partnership with Yadier Molina, where they will attempt to play the most games as battery mates in major-league history.
For some, however, it will be Wainwright’s curveball. Everyone remembers him freezing Carlos Beltran on an 0-2 curveball in 2006 that helped the Cardinals advance to the World Series.
All these years later, Wainwright’s curveball remains dominant – and was recently ranked by Eno Sarris of The Athletic as one of the best curveballs in baseball. It was specifically ranked as the fifth best curveball in terms of Stuff+ (137), below only Tyler Glasnow (174), Lucas Luetge (145), Tejay Antone (142) and German Marquez (138).
It’s the curveball that has allowed Wainwright, 40, to remain so dominant and be arguably the Cardinals’ most important pitcher the last two seasons. He threw the pitch 1025 times last season, second most in baseball behind Charlie Morton (1096), and finished with a 3.05 ERA and 174/50 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 206.1 innings.
It’s also what allowed Wainwright to not only to be one of the best pitchers in Cardinals history, but put him in serious consideration to enter the Hall of Fame alongside Molina. His career numbers – 3.35 ERA in 2375.2 innings across 16 seasons – put him in elite company, especially as he has posted sub-3.15 ERAs in his age-39 and 40 seasons.
There is no reason to believe that things will be different in 2022, especially with his curveball being so dominant. The Cardinals clearly believe the same, evidenced by the one-year, $17.5 million contract he signed in October that ensured he would play his entire career in St. Louis.