St. Louis Cardinals: What it means to be a barometer team

What if the Cardinals beat up on bad teams, lose to good teams, and fight against middle-of-the-road teams in 2024?
Miami Marlins v St. Louis Cardinals
Miami Marlins v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages

With the new balanced schedule instituted by Major League Baseball, each team will play every other team in baseball for at least one series. This balanced schedule has allowed teams in good divisions to see those in weaker divisions more often, thus increasing parity across the league.

Each year, certain teams begin to surface as "barometer" teams, teams that perform well against weaker opponents, struggle against better opponents, and fight heavily against comparable opponents.

It seems to be after 4 series that the St. Louis Cardinals may be one such team in 2024.

So far, the Cardinals have played one great team (Los Angeles Dodgers), one bad team (Miami Marlins), and two middle-of-the-road teams (San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies). Those 4 teams are a collective 25-30. The Phillies are sitting at .500, the Padres are 7-8, the Dodgers are a preposterous 10-5, and the Marlins are a pitiful 2-11. Coming out of these four series, the Cardinals sit at 6-7, one game below .500.

The Cardinals handled their business and took the series against the Marlins, they battled somewhat but lost 3 out of 4 against the Dodgers, they took the series against the Padres in a tough bout, and they battled the Phillies only to ultimately lose 2 out of 3.

While it's not exciting to be floating around .500 for an entire season, it's certainly an improvement from last year. The Cardinals never stood a chance against the best of the best, and the series against the bottom dwellers was also not enjoyable.

The Cardinals could easily go the full season following this pattern. It could make for a long season, but at least the team is more competitive this year. The series against the Phillies and Padres was exciting; the Cardinals battled the Padres and had a +6 run differential; Masyn Winn hit a game-tying single in the 9th inning against the Phillies on Monday, but they ended up losing that game 5-3; they also shut out the Phillies, perhaps one of the best offenses in the league.

Conversely, they were embarrassed by the Dodgers in the first two games of the year, they won the 3rd game in extras (exciting), and they very easily could have split the 4-game series. Each of the matchups this year has featured the Cardinals battling it out at least once, or taking care of business when necessary. Occasionally, they've done something extraordinary.

Every MLB season features one team that inevitably becomes the "barometer" team; it's likely that's the Cardinals this year, and that's perfectly okay after an abysmal 71-91 season. At least 81-81 has a better ring to it. Perhaps with a little better luck, the Cardinals can finish with a record greater than .500 and a division crown to go with it.

With series coming up against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Athletics, the Cardinals will once again be playing a strong team and a bad team. If they can handle their business against the A's and possibly sweep them while battling the Diamondbacks, this trend will continue. Even a 4-2 record on this brief road trip out west would suffice.