ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- You’ll be hearing a lot about this in the next several days and weeks. Many teams out there might be nice for the grueling summer months, but come playoff time, no dice. They’re not built to win in October. On the other hand there are those who might have been wildly inconsistent in May or August, but come playoff time, that’s when they’re at their best.
So...where do the Redbirds fall? I think if a pair of World Series titles in the last six years is any indication, I don’t even have to insult your intelligence by answering that question.
Experience wins. Having the ability to say “yep, been there, done that” is a luxury few teams have at this point in time. Derek Jeter and the Yankees? Yes. Gio Gonzalez and the Nationals? Not so much.
Now, that’s not to say the Nats will fall flat on their face in the postseason. On the contrary, Washington’s got as much raw talent - top to bottom - as any in baseball. Its MLB-best 92-60 record speaks to that.
Yet they’ve got just six players on its current 40-man roster that has ANY postseason experience at all. Mike Gonzalez, former Cardinals Edwin Jackson and Mark DeRosa, Chien-Ming Wang, Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth.
The Cardinals? How about virtually the entire roster has been to the playoffs before. That means something in October.
Think there’s any situation that the sport of baseball could throw at David Freese that would scare him? Ya, didn’t think so. If you can stare Neftali Feliz in the eyes - just one strike away from your season ending in the World Series - and come through...you can do anything.
Ditto for Allen Craig, Yadier Molina and flat out everyone else on this team.
Pretty much, here’s what it comes down to. And let me preface this by saying it by no means guarantees the Cards are going to make another run in the postseason. They could easily get beat in Atlanta during that one game playoff.
But the St. Louis Cardinals KNOW they can win in October. Teams with less experience THINK they can win.
There’s a difference. It certainly gives them an edge. A small edge? Sure. But an edge nonetheless.
The question now becomes why have they been so wildly inconsistent during the regular season? That’s a complex question with many different parts. Performances of key individuals have fluctuated from month to month and injuries have impacted them as much as any team.
These Redbirds would have to be described as a club with a solid mix of veteran experience (Carlos Beltran, Chris Carpenter, Yadier Molina, etc) and youth (Allen Craig, Jon Jay, David Freese).
However, that veteran experience has shown its age on several occasions this season. Lance Berkman. Rafael Furcal. Chris Carpenter. Experience is a wonderful thing. But with experience comes age. And with age comes injuries.
That’s part of what has made this regular season so troubling at times. With virtually no warning in spring training, the Cards had to replace a rotation stalwart like Carpenter. Not long after, their first baseman went down for what turned out to be the entire season. And their shortstop’s elbow snapped on what seemed like a routine throw to first base.
Injuries have hurt, yes. But with this club as healthy now as it’s been in a while (save for Furcal and Berkman) it’s ready to make yet another run to the postseason.
Something they’ve done quite a few times in the past. Will it make the difference? No. Will it make a difference? Absolutely.