(BaseballStL) -- If you ask the sabermetric crowd in Major League baseball, they'll tell you there is no such thing as being clutch. They say hitting with a game on the line is virtually the same thing as hitting in the third inning with no score. To be honest, I've never really understood that argument. The human brain in professional athletes is not all that dissimilar from the human brain of us mere mortals.
They're more athletic. They have better hand-eye coordination. They're stronger. But they're not some super special species that is immune to getting anxious in tight situations.
Some can handle it and do their jobs and others cannot. The Cardinals, by and large, have done it this year better than anyone.
The keys to winning in baseball are simple. You need three things. Pitching, defense and timely hitting. Key word there is timely. No one expects an offense to bust out for 15 hits and 10 runs each game. You manufacture runs by getting guys on base, moving them over into scoring position and having someone drive them in.
If you hit with runners in scoring position you'll generally win a lot of baseball games as long as you're getting the requisite pitching necessary.
This season, the Cardinals have - according to ESPN - a .410 on-base percentage with runners in scoring position. That number goes up to .431 when there's two outs. The Cincinnati Reds are second in the league in that department but they're about 70 points behind the Cards. It's remarkable.
So, if you listen to the sabermetric crowd, they'd have you believe this is all some sort of fluke that will undoubtedly revert back to the norm after enough time. I don't buy it. The Cardinals are an organization that prides itself on never giving in. It doesn't matter if it's a six run deficit to the Nationals in Game 5 of the NLDS on the road. It doesn't matter if it's a two run deficit to the Rangers in the World Series.
The fact the most battle tested team with the mentally toughest players that have proven they can come through at the highest of pressurized situations can lead the league in OBP with runners in scoring position cannot be a coincidence. It just cannot be.
Now, I don't expect the Cards to continue to hit in the clutch the way they have for the rest of the season. That's a little ridiculous. Regression is to be expected here, of course.
But given the pitching and defense the Redbirds have shown, combined with their timely hitting, that's a combination that will lead to a lot of victories in the future.