The Cardinals are having a strong start to their season despite terrible luck

Despite some of the worst luck in baseball this year, the Cardinals continue to play strong baseball.
St. Louis Cardinals v San Diego Padres
St. Louis Cardinals v San Diego Padres / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

"Luck" is a concept in baseball that's hard to quantify. While sabermetricians have tried their hardest to create statistics that help to appraise this value, even the most advanced statistics don't do this concept justice.

However, there are some real statistics that can lead fans to see a team as lucky or unlucky. Three of those such stats include injuries, hit-by-pitches, and umpire favor. Each of these events are beyond a player's control for the most part, but they do tell a story about how unlucky a team can be. The St. Louis Cardinals have been among the unluckiest teams according to these metrics in 2024.

In terms of injuries, the Cardinals are tied with 6 other teams for the second-most amount of players on the injured list right now. The 8 players currently on the Injured list are Tommy Edman, Lars Nootbaar, Dylan Carlson, Sonny Gray, Drew Rom, Matt Carpenter, Riley O'Brien, and Keynan Middleton. Of those 8, Edman and Nootbaar were supposed to be everyday players, Gray was supposed to be the ace of the staff, Carlson figured to play a key role as the 4th outfielder, and O'Brien and Middleton were assumed to bolster the bullpen.

Cardinal batsmen have been hit a National League leading 10 times thus far in only 8 games. They trail only the Cleveland Guardians in total hit-by-pitches, and the next closest team in the NL is the Colorado Rockies with 7 players having been plunked. While there is a bit of an art to getting a base via a plunking, these events are largely uncontrollable. Some of those hits have led to key injuries on the roster.

Umpire Scorecards, a website and Twitter/X page that rates umpires based on accuracy and consistency, tabulates how favorable umpires have been for certain teams in a year. According to their website, the Cardinals had the fewest amount of pitches go their way thus far. The Cardinals' "total favor" score of -3.8 is the worst in the league. The Chicago White Sox came in second with a score of -3.32.

The Cardinals have been able to play good baseball despite having injuries, being hit by pitches often, and umpires going against them. If the offense can step up just a little bit, and if these unlucky events start going their way, the Cardinals could ascend to the top of the National League Central in short order.