Yesterday the St. Louis Cardinals advanced their record to seven wins and five losses with a 6-4 win over the Chicago Cubs. Just 12 games into the season, it is too early to make any final judgments about this team. Still, it is not too early to garner some early impressions. Here is an overview of the team which includes statistics and game notes from the past 24 hours at the team's website and fangraphs.com.
The Overachieving Hitters
Yadier Molina - 47 AB, 7 R, 16 H, 3 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, .340 AVG, .367 OBP, .596 SLUG
Matt Adams - 46 AB, 4 R, 15 H, 5 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, .326 AVG, .367 OBP, .500 SLUG
One Par Hitters
Kolten Wong - 43 AB, 3 R, 12 H, 1 2B, 1 3B, 4 RBI, 3 SB, .279 AVG .354 OBP, .349 SLUG
The Underachieving Hitters
Matt Holliday - 44 AB, 6 R, 11 H, 4 2B, 6 RBI, 1 SB, .377 OBP, .341 SLUG
Peter Bourjos - 32 AB, 4 R, 7 H, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI, .219 AVG, .286 OBP, .375 SLUG
Allen Craig - 41 AB, 3 R, 5 H, 3 RBI, .122 AVG, .178 OBP, .122 SLUG
Johnny Peralta - 36 AB, 4 R, 4 H, 1 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, .111 AVG, .220 OBP, .306 SLUG
Notes: The Cardinals offense has clearly been disappointing early. The hitters WAR (Wins Above Replacement Players) ranks 22nd in the league. The team's .226 batting average ranks 26th, the .306 on-base-percentage ranks 20th, and the .347 slugging percentage ranks 26th.
Yadier Molina and Matt Adams are the lone bright spots in the lineup. Kolten Wong is performing about as well as one could expect in his rookie season. Peter Bourjos has struggled but he has contributed with his speed and the team was not exactly expecting Bourjos to be a huge offensive weapon. It is the lack of hitting, and more specifically the lack of power, from Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, and Johnny Peralta that is really weighing the team down right now. All three hitters have proven track records which suggests their averages and OBP will go up. Still, the lack of power is disconcerting to say the least.
The Overachieving Pitchers
Joe Kelly - 1-0, 0.79 ERA, 11.1 IP, 12 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 7 K, 1.41 WHIP
Michael Wacha - 2-0, 1.89 ERA, 19.0 IP, 15 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 18 K, 0.95 WHIP
Adam Wainwright, 2-1, 2.57 ERA, 21.0 IP, 15 H, 6 ER, 6 BB, 24 K, 1.00 WHIP
On Par Pitchers
Randy Choate - 0-0, 2.25 ERA, 4.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 0.50 WHIP
Carlos Martinez - 0-1, 2.35 ERA, 7.2 IP, 5 H, 2 Er, 4 BB, 5 K, 1.17 WHIP
Pat Neshek - 0-0, 3.38 ERA, 5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1.31 WHIP
Kevin Siegrist - 0-0, 5.79 ERA, 4.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 0.86 WHIP
Shelby Miller - 0-3, 6.35 ERA, 11.1 IP, 13 H, 8 ER, 6 BB, 7 K, 1.68 WHIP
Lance Lynn, 2-0, 6.55 ERA, 11.0 IP, 16 H, 8 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 1.55 WHIP
Trevor Rosenthal, 0-1, 7.36 ERA, 4 SV, 7.1 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 8 K, 1.36 WHIP
Keith Butler, 0-0, 45.00 ERA, 1.0 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 5.00 WHIP
Notes: Overall the pitchers have WAR of 1.1 which puts them 17th in the big leagues. The team ERA (3.94) ranks 14th in the league. The trio of Wainwright, Wacha, and Kelly are largely responsible for the team's winning record thus far. Wainwright and Wacha are exceeding already hgih expectations at the beginning of this season. Kelly has done his best to put to rest the argument that Carlos Martinez should be starting with an excellent start to the season.
It might be bit harsh to say Randy Choate and Carlos Martinez are simply "on par" with respective ERA's of 2.25 and 2.35, but both pitchers were really expected to dominate this year. To their credit both have done their job well.
The cocern comes with starters three and four. Shelby Miller is giving up too many homeruns (4) while simultaneously not striking out hitters at the rate he did last year (5.56 K/9 IP in 2014 compared to 8.78 K/9 IP). Once again, it is early but so far Miller lacks the explosive stuff he displayed last year.
Lance Lynn has managed to be 2-0 through no fault of his own, though in his defense Lynn's FIP (4.09) and xFIP (3.68) suggests that he is pitching better than his 6.55 ERA.
Kevin Siegrist's ERA is really skewed by one bad game in Cincinnatti, and he has otherwise displayed the same kind of stuff to be dominant reliever.
Trevor Rosenthal is more of a concern given the fact that his velocity has dipped down considerably early this year. Last year Rosenthal's best weapon was a fastball that routinely reached 98-100 MPH. This year Rosenthal is sitting more in the 94-96 MPH range. Rosenthal says he is fine, but the velocity dip is potentially making him more hittable.
Then there is Keith Butler. Little was expected of Butler when he made the team out of Spring Training, and he has managed to produce even less. Butler has only been allowed to pitch in one game in Pittsburgh, where he promptly gave up five earned runs in one inning of work. Since then Manager Mike Matheny has shown an uwillingness to go back to Butler, which is ultimately leading to an overuse of other players like Rosenthal and Martinez. Butler may soon find himself in AAA if Matheny is unwilling to use him again.
Going into this year the hope was the Manager Mike Matheny would grow from his experience of the last two seasons. Perhaps pressured by a poor bench and struggling bullpen, Matheny seriously bungled the of a game on April 11 against the Chicago Cubs. With the game tied and runner in scoring position in the bottom of the tenth inning Matheny inexplicably let closer Trevor Rosenthal hit even with two bench players available to pinch hit. Rosenthal struck out, and then proceeded to give up a three-run homerun in the top of the 11th inning. The Cardinals lost, and they may have still lost if Matheny had pinch hit, but the the team's manager undoubtedly put his team in a worst position.
The team's record (7-5) is actually fortunate when one reflects on the fact that five of the team's big hitters are seriously underperforming. To reach the team's lofty expectations at the beginning of this season they will eventually need better performance from Peralta, Holliday, and Craig. On the pitching end, if Miller and Lynn do not turn around their fortunes around in the next month it may be time to consider altenatives like Carlos Martinez or Tim Cooney, who has dominated in two starts at AAA.