Playoff race is OVER! by Bob Ryan

…It’s only a week after July  4th…..traditional half way mark of the season….but….the playoff teams are set….at least for the American League…now we don’t know the EXACT standings…but we do know the 5 teams that will be in the post-season games…we don’t know the exact 3 division winners and 2 wild card teams… but ….we DO KNOW which 5 teams it’ll be in October.

….from the East, it’s Boston 59-29, Yankees 56-28; Central has  Cleveland 43-37 on top; the West has defending world series champion, Houston 57-31 and Seattle 55-32.  Those are your 5 post season teams!! The next “best team” is Oakland 48-39 then the Angels 44-43 …just 1 game over .500….the only one of those 5 teams that could….maybe…. stumble are the Seattle Mariners…..sooooo…what does this do for interest in the American League for the next 3 months? Boring! Why would you watch a White Sox-Kansas City game? or for that matter…..most of the other games….  that don’t involve our select 5? Just wondering….should the 2nd wild card team be the team that has the best record in the 2nd half of the season…assuming that they didn’t already qualify? If they already qualified ….find the best team that had not previously qualified…..I’m not completely sold on this strategy myself…but I do know that maybe that would add excitement and give those other “also rans” a fresh start in July…rather than talking 2019 by July 4th!

…When you look at playoff participation…..it hasn’t been that way  in the Lou for a long time….let’s take a look at results since the year 2000. (18 post seasons)….the Cards have only missed the post-season 6 times while playing in post season 12 times! Further, the Cards have gone deep into October…they’ve only dropped their 1st round games three times while playing 3 or more rounds-5x!! Come on Cards fans…..even IF we don’t make the post-season for the 3rd straight year.. which is our longest absence from the post season since this millennium…its really not a draught by any stretch of the imagination according to general MLB standards…take a look at our results since 2000….

2017 Cards no post season

2016 Cards no post season

2015 Cards lose NLDS to Cubs

2014 Cards win NLDS over Dodgers, lost NLCS to Giants

2013 Cards win NLDS over Pittsburgh, win NLCS over Dodgers, lose World Series to Boston

2012 Cards win Wild Card over Atlanta, Cards win NLDS over Nationals, Cards lose NLCS to Giants

2011 Cards win NLDS over Phillies, Cards win NLCS over Brewers, Cards win World Series over Texas

2010 no post season

2009 Cards lose NLDS to Dodgers

2008 no post season

2007 no post season

2006 Cards win NLDS over San Diego, Cards win NLCS over Mets, Cards win series over Detroit

2005 Cards win NLCS over San Diego, Cards lose NLCS to Houston

2004 Cards win NLCS over Dodgers, Cards win NLDS over Houston, Cards lose series to Boston

2003  no post season

2002 Cards win NLCS over Arizona, Cards lost NLDS to Giants

2001 Cards lose to Arizona in NLDS

2000 Cards win NLCS over Atlanta, Cards lose NLDS to NY Mets

…from the wide view…..St Louis has been through… maybe….the best 18 years of his history.

 

Cards weekly peek…

…I loved the Cards 1st pitch swinging last Monday…right off the bat in the 1st inning, the Cards top part of the batting order aggressively attacked that 1st pitch…generally for hits….btw…Cards beat Atlanta 6-3 by scoring 4 runs in the 1st inning.

….I agree with the move of Jose Martinez to the outfield….but….watching him go after a HR ball in Arizona made me worry about his own safety out there –  btw…trade him NOW to AL team to get something in return while he’s hitting….he won’t be in our long term plans anyway…so move him now

….its been my thought for some time now that most MLB’ers don’t play with emotion through much of the long regular season…..that’s why we see so many more errors, mental mistakes  & misplays in the post-season when the players ARE loaded with emotion…the players would probably respond that it isn’t possible….well….you don’t have to be in fights, screaming at umpires, diving for balls that aren’t catchable…but….you CAN play with emotion…..Harrison Bader …I know he’s a rookie…some might say…let him play longer to get “sanitized” to the MLB “professional” not the emotional approach to change him…..but….he shows that emotion to me….It doesn’t have to be the star players…but it could be…..Yadi has it….Tommy Pham has it…. I think John Lackey had it…Chris Carpenter had it…Carlos Martinez has it but….he might have be a bit too much of a dosage…give me some emotion daily and the team will be better….further….I think Bader should be playing every day…his defense alone merits that for the Cards

…did anyone else notice that often between innings when there are 3 commercials….that the same commercial is “run” for the 1st AND the last commercial?

….Sooo…it’s now public info that Manifesto hasn’t talked with Dexter Fowler for weeks now…I’m not a Dexter fan….I think he’s too complacent…doesn’t want to LOOK LIKE he’s hustling (see above paragraph).. but the great communicator MUST talk to this entire team…not just his favorites.

….I think its child-like to parade through the dugout in a line after a homerun….it reminds me of a birthday party march for a young child…they do it not only in emotional times….but every time…. Reeeeaallly…did you hear the tone….it’s like we’re winning 5-1, some player hits a dinger and we’re parading through the dugout like it was David Freese’s HR in 2011…I do want emotion…but not this fake stuff that’s done strictly for the camera.

….the over/under for # of spits per an at bat for Jeff Gyorko is 6.

….in 2009, the Cards had three .300+ hitters and two 290+ hitters…..they also had 8 complete games….boy….how the game has changed.

Statistically look at the Cards …now and in the recent past….two key hitting stats (runs & slug%), two key pitching stats (ERA & batting average against us) & fielding…rather interesting….

2018 as of July 3rd

Cards 20th in runs in MLB, 5th in division; Cards 21st in slug%, 5th  in division

Cards 11th in ERA, 3rd in division; Cards 11th in Bat avg against them, 3rd in division

Cards 30th in Errors(last place-most errors in MLB), 5th in division

****Houston is #1 in ERA, #1 in errors and #2 in runs scored

So comparatively, Cards are better in pitching than hitting and the league’s worst defensive team

Comparisons to two other very good Cardinal teams….

In 2011—

5th in runs in MLB, 1st in division; 6th in slug% in MLB, 2nd in division

Cards 12th in ERA in MLB, 2nd in division;  Cards 20th in BAA in MLB, 3rd in division

Cards tied for 25th-27th in errors in MLB, 4th in division

2006—this was probably the best team of this milinneum.

Cards 14th in runs in MLB, 1st in division;  Cards 1th in Slug% in MLB, 2nd in division

Cards 16th in ERA in MLB, 3rd in division; Cards 15th in BAA in MLB, 3rd in division

Cards tied for 10th- 14th in errors in MLB(5 teams tied), 1st in division

***Surprising to me is the high number of errors that the Cards have displayed in all 3 years!

What a great match!!

….I haven’t seen many of the World Cup games but the Belgium-Japan match was excellent….lots of action, ebb & flow, very exciting conclusion…after a scoreless 1st half, Japan scored twice in 4 minutes to open a seemingly untouchable 2-0 lead. Jan Vertonghen broke the ice for Belgium in the 69th minute with a header from outside the box. Just a few minutes later, another header from Marouane Fellaini as he outjumped, outmuscled the Japanese defender tied the match.  Belgium dominated …at least to my untrained eyes…the last 20-30 minutes of the match….they looked more athletic, fresher and more determined…..Belgium scored the winner with less than a minute remaining in stoppage time on “fast break”with several slick passes… Nacer Chadli tapped in the winner in full stride as Belgium becomes the 1st team in the round of 16 to rally from a 2 goal deficit.

…the “art” of the flop has been mastered by Brazil’s Neymar.  This highly talented player has become more well known..at least to me… for his ability to flop rather than to dazzle us with his skill…USA Today put it this way, “That’s why all the nonsense of diving and faking and feigning was such a part of its game during this tournament, perhaps like never before. Especially Neymar, who is a gem of the sport when he stays out of acting school, and should know better.” USA speculates that this flopping actually hurt Brazil late it the game as they wrote “Would Brazil have gotten a couple of borderline calls late if Neymar’s reputation for simulation didn’t precede him? We will never know”.  What does this flopping do to the game….well, I read an article that a youth Coach in Switzerland is now emphasizing & teaching the “art” of the flop to his team….ugh…that’s sad to me. Years from now….will more contact be permitted since referees will become immune to the apparent injuries that disappear when a whistle is blown against the opponents? Will this increased contact detract from the beauty of the game?

Sports odds & ends…

…so Mizzou is promoting Drew Lock for the Heisman…..I don’t know if he’s the best college player in the country or not….but I do know that you won’t win the Heisman if your team has 4…maybe even 3… losses…will Mizzou do that?  I don’t see them beating Alabama or Georgia right off the bat.

….so what’s happened to the Washington Nationals?  Chosen by many…if not most…experts to be sitting on top in the NL East…the Nats are in 3rd place 5 games out of 1st place behind two rejuvenated teams—Atlanta Braves & Philadelphia Phillies and only 1 game over .500.  What happened?   Only Parkway Central grad, Max Scherzer has performed at a high level….on the other side of the tracks…Super-star Bryce Harper seems to be too preoccupied with his upcoming free agency bonanza than his current play. He’s hitting a dismal .211. Recently he went through a  7 for 55 stretch!!!  Injuries have been a critical factor for the decline……missing Stephen Strasburg in the starting rotation has been a major setback. Gio Gonzalez has gone 0-3 in his last 3 starts. Daniel Murphy missed the first 2 months of the season due to injury and has been slow to recover…hitting just .188 for the season. Adam Eaton…while not a star…was looked upon to “set the table” for the sluggers….his season began in June after recovering from an injury and has started of late to display his On-base % skills. The Nats HAVE won their last 2 games…will this be the beginning of a resurgence?  Or just a momentary spurt? Stay tuned….Remember last year….Dusty Baker got fired for never advancing far in the playoffs…gee….I wonder if the Nats would settle for a playoff spot now?

….after a sluggish start to the 2018 season…I think due….at least in part….to missing the entire spring training, Lance Lynn won his 6th game of the season for the Minnesota Twins. The Twinkies have only won 37 games total in 2018…Lynn still has a high ERA of 5.21 but his in his last start he gave up 1 run in 6 innings….I’m not pushing him for the Cy Young but …right now… he’d be 2nd in wins on the Cardinals with his 6 victories.

…thinking of Lynn’s free agency …..I tend to think that the mega-stars of the MLB free agency will get their millions but the mid-level players will NOT get those multi-year mega-contracts any longer…..I think most will get the 1 or 2 year deals….very good….but not super …and less than previously… money…MLB teams are realizing that the long multi-year contracts tie them up too much.

…speaking of long-term….thanks for making it to the bottom…..

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Thanks for another good read. I always appreciate your take on the MLB and especially the Cardinals. As you know, I’m a traditionalist when it comes to many things especially baseball. I reject MLB’s attempts to alter my game to appease the general population, who, in my opinion are undeserving of such consideration. By this I mean things like the DH, efforts to speed up the game and never enforcing these rules, the rule book strike zone never being called, mandatory “pink bat” days or “42” days. I go to watch good baseball being played, not to do the wave or toss around a beach ball.
    I agree that chances are slim that we make the playoffs this year, but we don’t have to, just play good baseball. Hustle, play good defense, put the ball in play, stop striking out at a rate of 8+ times per game! I would like to see Wainwright in relief, if he is unwilling or unable, cut him loose. Cecil and Holland are liabilities, I am just as effective as those two and will lose games for the Cardinals for a lot less money.
    Having ranted about all of this, I still watch every night, I still pay good money and get to as many games as I can. I still get excited about my team. I plan to make all of my grandchildren Cardinals fans!
    AH

  2. Here’s my take on the Cardinals: They just don’t have good enough players. I know fans, bloggers, and sports call-in shows like to complain about the hitting coach or the use of the bullpen, but the players just aren’t good. In order to contend, everythinghad to go right. Season was probably over when Reyes went down (not to mention injuries to Yadi, Carlos, and DeJong). Sure, all teams have to deal with injuries; but teams with a thin roster (whether pro, college, or high school), can’t overcome it. The stats you provide might even suggest that considering the hitting, errors, etc., the Cards might be overachieving. I know everyone likes to question MM, but I think they have never replaced the Big Guns from the recent past—Pujols, Holiday, C. Carpenter, Wainwright. They let go the Jays and Descalsos, thinking it might be Wong, Grichuk, or Piscotty; and now we have Fowler and Ozuna. Somebody’s been making bad decisions for a while. Obviously, a couple of pitchers have been a nice surprise this season, but if someone like Martinez is your “ace,” that’s a worry—you never really know what you’re going to get. Same for Weaver. With this staff, the bullpen will always be taxed. As you predicted, we miss Lynn and his innings. Matt Carpenter seems to be a good guy, a great competitor and teammate, but the leader of a playoff team?!?
    JM

  3. You hit the nail on the head–These HR train dances are like watching kids dancing with
    Chucky Cheese or when they get an extra base hit they make signs with their hands; so bizarre!
    One all star –ouch! … but they have been a very streaky team
    Drew Locke is a solid QB but zero chance winning the Heisman
    I look forward U Conn playing SLU Dec 4th because Napeesha Collier hometown
    I know Coach K does that saying thanks for coming to Duke or Geno coming to UCONN
    Totally agree Harper is going to make that crazy despite how he’s going this year
    Bummer the pitcher from Tampa got overlooked by the the AL & voters
    MB

  4. Jim Dowd says:

    I agree with most of your comments. I really wanted them to resign Lynn.
    I have watched more of this World Cup than any other and guess I just have become immune to most of the flops. As long as they don’t yellow card I really don’t pay attention. Play on. The games especially in the final minutes have been excellent.
    JD

  5. It is very disheartening that the American League races are already over. I am sure it has happened many times in the past but it is disappointing.
    I guess the Nationals need to fire the manager in the hitting coach. They are ruining Bryce Harper. There’s no way possible that it could be his fault that he’s having a bad year. He will probably find a lawyer and sue them because they are costing him four hundred million dollars when he hits the free-agent Market.
    JP

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