Feldman: Cardinals’ offense flexing its muscles

Feldman: Cardinals’ offense flexing its muscles

Credit: Getty Images

Allen Craig #21 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a single during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on August 26, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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by Brian Feldman / News 4 Sports

KMOV.com

Posted on August 27, 2012 at 10:31 AM

Updated Monday, Aug 27 at 1:13 PM

A few days ago, I wrote how this 10-game road trip was important—yet, not quite do-or-die—for the Redbirds’ season.  I still believe going .500 or better during this time is more than adequate, while going under .500 would be unacceptable.

Consider taking two of three from the first-place Reds one heck of a start.

That was an outstanding series offensively.  In the wins, the Cards put up 16 runs on 31 hits.  Further proof that, when right, this offense can mash with anyone.  It can single-handedly win ball games for them.  Even with a lull here and a lull there, don’t forget the St. Louis Cardinals are still ranked 1st in Major League Baseball in on-base percentage (.342), 2nd in batting average (.277) and 3rd in runs scored (628) in 2012. 

Matt Holliday (89) and Carlos Beltran (85) rank 1-2 in the National League in RBIs while Yadier Molina’s .323 batting average ranks 4th in the league. 

If that’s not enough, Allen Craig’s been doing quite an Albert Pujols impersonation of late.  In his last 14 games, the 28-year old California kid has hit, get this, .431 with a ridiculous 1.157 OPS (combined on-base plus slugging percentage).  If he had enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title, his .962 OPS for the season would rank 6th in the entire majors. 

Put it all together and this is one of the very best offenses in baseball.  Too many folks got jumpy at some stretches when they weren’t scoring many runs—like the 15 they put up on that horrendous road trip to start the 2nd half of the year. 

But that’s just baseball, people.  Not to get all cliché and philosophical on you...but everyone’s well aware the best of the best fail 7 out of 10 times in this sport.  Hitters get hot.  Hitters get cold.  It’s who averages out to the best in the end that matter.  And the Cardinals are averaging out to being among the very best.  It’d be insanely unrealistic to expect the entire team to remain hot for 162 games. 

It’s kind of like when Albert Pujols was here and this entire city freaked out when he went 0-10 over a couple days.  Has this offense been so good that the expectations have gone through the roof and it’s not allowed to struggle for a few days?  If so, that’s a compliment to GM John Mozeliak and the offense he’s built, it’s a compliment to hitting coach Mark McGwire’s teachings and—most importantly—it’s a compliment to the hitters and the work they’ve put in this year.

This is a pitching league.  Pitching wins in baseball.  Good pitching beats good hitting.  It’s been true for 100 years minus the steroid era...and it’s still true to this day.

To be able to acquire so many elite hitters creates a balance most organizations simply don’t have.  And many of them won’t be going anywhere for a long time.  As for the ones that are?  The Cards have more elite hitters in the minors ready to take their place (Oscar Taveras for example when Carlos Beltran’s time is done). 

When needed, the Redbirds can absolutely hit their way to a win.  They’ve proven that.

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