(Baseball StL) – Baseball is a funny game. The difference between a career-making season and just another year can often come down to a few bounces, a little help from a teammate or a wind gust at the right time.
Great players will continue to be great, and average ones will always come back to Earth, but there anomalies surface here and there, and often make little sense in the moment.
Adam Wainwright’s 2013 season has elements of baseball’s mischeif written all over it. The Cardinal ace leads the National League with 13 wins. Strangely, eight of those have come on the road.
Stranger still, Waino is pitching (statistically) worse on the road. His ERA (2.93) is a full run worse away from Busch, his WHIP is 1.15 compared to .86, and his ground ball ratio is worse.
In his 12 road starts he has given up 28 earned runs in 86 innings compared to 14 in 68 at home. He also has surrendered 90 hits while travelling compared to 51 in the Gateway City. Yet, he’s 8-1 on the road and 5-4 in St. Louis.
More innings on the road will inflate some of those numbers, but he has pitched 18 more innings on the road , and given up 39 more hits and 13 more runs. That’s two hits per inning and .7runs.
Wainwright hasn’t exactly been getting away with murder on the road- his highest run total surrendered is three- but the Cardinals are leading the league in runs scored away from home.
At home they are 13th in the bigs in runs scored. While Wainwright has pitched tremendously, the fact he has put up an ERA under 2.00 and a WHIP under .90 and is still 5-4 means if the Cardinals weren’t playing so well on the road, his season could look a lot different.
With baseball statistics doggedly reverting to the norm, Wainwright’s season could be set to take a turn. How long can the Cardinals hit this well with RISP? Sunday against the Padres, the leadoff man reached seven times in eight innings against Waino.
Since 1952, 37.8 percent of runners who lead off an inning by reaching first base have scored. Wainwright’s percentage Sunday was 25 percent.
His strand rate is an stunning 76 percent. The question as the season goes on will be how long Wainwright can keep runners who reach base from coming home. If he can hold that rate, the Cardinals should have no problem.
Again, his numbers aren’t poised to collapse. Batting average on balls in play against him is .313- about average. His control is masterful, and he strikes out an average of eight batters per nine innings. But if he can lose four games at home pitching like he has, he could have just as easily lost them on the road as well. His earned run totals in his home losses are four, three, two and one. He has given up three, two and one runs twice each on the road, and won all of those games.
Baseball is a silly game. When it favors you, it’s so much fun you feel guilty. When it turns on you, life has never felt so cruel. Wainwright will continue to pitch well. Baseball’s whims may well determine the rest.