Cardinals catch a break with their 2024 schedule, giving them an advantage

The Cardinals are looking for any reason to build momentum to win games in 2024. It starts with their schedule
Milwaukee Brewers v St. Louis Cardinals
Milwaukee Brewers v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages

The St. Louis Cardinals have a long road ahead to prove to fans and the national audience why they will redeem themselves from the 2023 season. After the worst Cardinals' season in thirty years, a busy off-season with a revamped pitching staff should help secure more wins for this year's club. The position player depth has not changed much so the team will roll out the same starting lineups from last year hoping to see much-needed improvements.

The season starts with a trip to Los Angeles to face the powerhouse Dodgers and their new superstar tandem of Ohtani, Freeman, Betts, and Yamamoto. The remaining schedule for the first month of play will be tough as well for the Cardinals, as they will play the Padres, Marlins, Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Mets. But do not worry Cardinals fans, the rest of the year is very promising.

From The Athletics' Jayson Stark (subscription required), he recently broke down the 2023 MLB season and how the new MLB schedule layout impacted the game as a whole. Fans got to see their favorite team face off against every other team in the league for the first time. There were more interleague games played than in the past and fewer division matchups than in the past. The biggest impact from this was that attendance skyrocketed across MLB and fans got to see more stars in person and playing in their team's cities.

Another big impact is the less division-heavy focus scheduling created a more fair and balanced schedule for all teams, where competitive balance was more recognized within the standings. This will hurt the Cardinals going into 2024, as they will be playing 101 games versus teams with winning records from the 2023 season. Stark made great emphasis on this being the Cardinals' fault due to how poorly they played in 2023 allowing for more division opponents to surface around the .500 mark.

But where the Cardinals are catching their break is in travel distance. The Cardinals will be second, only to the Pittsburg Pirates, in total estimated miles traveled for the 2024 season at 26,647 miles. It is common sense that teams in the central region of the country will travel the least amount, but that gives the Cardinals an advantage in resting players and preventing travel fatigue throughout the season.

What makes this very notable in regards to the upcoming season and potential team performance, is that the Cardinals ranked number one in the biggest decrease in air miles traveled between 2023 and 2024. The Cardinals traveled 35,524 in 2023 versus the estimated 26,647 for 2024, making an 8,877 decrease for this season. The next closest team, Oakland Athletics, shows a decrease in miles of 6,493. It is a sizeable gap between the Cardinals and the rest of the league.

So what led to this major advantage in the Cardinals' scheduling? The biggest factor is that the Cardinals played the Chicago Cubs in London during the 2023 season which resulted in a 4,200-mile journey to another continent. When you subtract out that abnormal trip compared to the rest of the season, they would have only an air miles traveled gap of 4,677 versus the 8,877 shown above. This would not put the Cardinals in the top 5 of this analysis if the Cardinals did not play in London in 2023. It might be a stretch to say one series traveled could cause season-long fatigue, but the same could be said with many players leaving during spring training to play in the World Baseball Classic for several weeks across the globe.

Many things have to go right for the 2024 Cardinals to return to the Cardinal Way. The pitching staff has to play adequate baseball over an entire season. The lineup needs to show its potential and stay consistent. The coaching staff needs to keep clubhouse composure and not lose trust in the media. The front office needs to be reactive to the current roster and identify areas of weakness to improve upon throughout the early summer. Many outside factors can impact these outcomes, some can be controlled and some cannot be. But what is for certain, is that the Cardinals should not have any travel fatigue to hinder their play for 2024.