Cardinal hitters paying the price for patience

Cardinal hitters paying the price for patience

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Cardinal hitters paying the price for patience

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by JJ Bailey / BaseballStL

KMOV.com

Posted on October 15, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 15 at 4:24 PM

(BaseballStL) -- A lot of fine things have been said about patience. It's a virtue. Love is patient. Good things come to those who wait. 

Patience is a great thing to embrace in life, but it's time to talk about it killing the Cardinal offense.

Throughout the season, Redbird hitters have subscribed to a even-tempered approach at the plate. They want good at-bats, and they take a lot of pitches. It paid off, as the Cardinals led the league in runs, were second in hits and in the top five in walks. 

But in the NLCS, against perhaps the strongest rotation the National League has to offer, patience has not been rewarded. 

St. Louis is 13-for-97 as a team, posting a .134 average over the first three games. One factor is the sheer ability of Dodger pitching. Another, and perhaps the most prominent, is that patience is putting hitters in a hole. 

In the first three games, Cardinal hitters took a called strike for the first strike in the at-bat 50 times. I am not including at-bats where hitters were up 3-0, as taking a pitch is common in that situation. 

That means 50 times, the hitter took the first strike they saw. That approach can pay off when a team is trying to tire a pitcher out, or see more of his stuff. It's less successful when hitters are facing top-tier hurlers in a postseason game. 

In those situations, that first strike may be the best one- and the only hittable one- of the entire at-bat. Cardinal hitters may not mind being down 0-1. In fact, they hit better in that situation (.320) than they do when up 2-0 (.288). But giving a strike to pitchers this good isn't a recipe for success. 

A win is a win, and the Cardinals managed two, but there's only so long rookie pitchers can win games with three (or less) runs of support. 

Lastly, while Cardinal hitters don't collapse down 0-1, they- like most hitters- struggle mightily when behind two strikes. 

Down 0-2, the Redbirds hit .170. Down 1-2 it falls to .159. Giving up the first strike of the at-bat without a swing makes those situations all the more likely. In the series, the Cards have seen 21 0-2 counts and 29 1-2 counts.

That means to go with the 50 taken first strikes, they have 50 disadvantaged counts. At some point, patience is a pain. 

Perhaps that cycle will be broken Tuesday night, as Ricky Nolasco takes the mound for the Dodgers. Not only are Cardinal hitters comfortable against Nolasco, but batters hit .285 when they swing at the first pitch he offers. 

After getting behind 0-1, they post a .239 average. 

Patience may be a virtue, but it's not leading to any runs in the NLCS. 

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JJ Bailey covers the Cardinals for KMOV.com and the BaseballStL app. Follow him on twitter @TheJJBailey and on @baseballstl_app for updates.  

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