(BaseballStL) – Here are some perhaps-unknown facts about the St. Louis Cardinals to break the tedium of August baseball and a lengthy period of underperformance.
The Cardinals average pitching age is 27.2 years. You’d have to go all the way back to 1984 to find a younger average age for Redbird starters (27.0.) The pain of inconsistent performance should be tempered by the vast potential they display.
The average position player’s age is 28.8 years old, skewing a little younger than has been the norm but at the young end of average. (The Pirates are even younger by a whole year).
For the first time in 20 years, a pitcher (Adam Wainwright) is the Cards most valuable player using the Wins Against Replacement (WAR) stat. Wainwright’s 4.9 puts him at the top of the club, the first time a pitcher has held that distinction since the very forgettable Bob Tewksbury in 1992 hurled on one of then-manager Joe Torre’s mediocre ball clubs. Before that, John Tudor of the 1985 World Series team took those honors.
Albert the Magnificent led the club in WAR for 7 straight years and nine years altogether, once achieving a WAR of nearly 10, meaning he won the Cards 10 more games than could be expected from a replacement. But that is not even close to the record.
Who could possibly have been more valuable than Albert? Long-time Cardinal fans already know the answer: Bob Gibson, the meanest, baddest, toughest pitcher ever to toe the rubber in Busch Stadium or anywhere else. Gibson was so dominant that after his 1968 season in which he went 22-9 and posted an ERA of 1.12, baseball lowered the mound to give hitters a chance. 1.12. And he LOST 9 games. (He was also hit in the shin with a line drive which actually broke a bone but he refused to leave the mound and insisted on finishing the inning.)
From 1968-70, Gibson’s WAR was 12, 11 and 10 and the Cardinals made the World Series only once in that period, blowing a 3-1 lead to the Detroit Tigers in 1968 and losing 4-3.
Stan Musial and Rogers Hornsby were the only other Cardinals to enjoy a WAR over 10 in any one season.
Matt Holliday has grounded into 26 double plays this year (is that all? Seems like more). David Freese is next with 19.
John Jay leads the team in getting plunked. Nine times. Allen Craig has eight bruises and Matt Carpenter seven.
Holliday and Daniel Descalso lead the team with five steals. Lou Brock could steal that many in one game.
Craig leads the team in strikeouts, whiffing 83 times. John Jay is next at 78 and Kozma has 76.
Carpenter leads the team with 139 hits. Craig is right behind him with 138. Carlos Beltran’s 20 taters is tops and Carpenter leads the club with four triples.
Among pitchers, Wainwright has the most hits (seven) but on the strength of his 3-hit night, Jake Westbrook is the hitting stud among the pitchers (with more than 20 at bats), batting a studly .172.
Shelby Miller is the home run king among hurlers with one.