First half grades: Offense -

First half grades: Offense

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By Elizabeth Eisele By Elizabeth Eisele

(BaseballStL) -- The St. Louis Cardinals’ offense is one hard pupil to grade. On certain days they bang out hits like everybody thought they would and then in long stretches, they can’t hit a beach ball with an oar. But, in fairness, offense is down everywhere. Individual grades are a little easier, but inconsistency makes grades highly subjective. So, based on the 96 games played so far, here’s an imperfect analysis.

What grade do you give the Cardinals' first half performance? Share your thoughts.

You always like a pupil who shows improvement and the Cardinals have certainly done that, banging out four home runs Friday night and racking up more than 25 hits in the weekend series with the first-place Milwaukee Brewers.

And, it would seem, one should grade on the curve, taking into consideration that offense is down all over baseball and especially the National League.

So, given all those factors a grade of B- seems both generous and yet deserving. They’ve hit a little better recently but their inconsistency earns them a minus. Remember, in about a quarter of the wins, the pitching staff shut out the other team, requiring only minimal production to win. It is doubtful the same level of performance over the last 66 games will earn them the postseason.

Individually, they break down this way:

Matt Carpenter: A 

Hitting .285 might not seem like worthy of an A, but consider this; pitchers have thrown 1,841 pitches to him in 96 games, far, far more than to any other Cardinal. His eye at the plate forces deep counts, as evidenced by his 52 walks and .377 on base percentage. Though 68 whiffs are way too many for a leadoff man, a lot of those came early. But he’s not really a true leadoff man and overall, it’s hard to fault him.

Kolten Wong: B 

Because of his late surge, (five home runs in a week the Cards were making a push toward the top), Wong deserves a better grade than one might assume his .242 average would earn him. But he was playing hurt during a poor stretch and looks right now.  

Matt Holliday: B- 

The aging slugger is now just an occasional threat but when he is locked on like he was Friday against the Brew Crew, the calendar says 2007, the year Big Daddy hit .340 with 36 taters and 137 RBIs. He leads the team with 45 RBIs at the break, just like he should. The minus is for the 14 double plays he grounded into, also team leader in this dubious category.

Matt Adams: A

Doubtful anyone ever expected an obscure ballplayer from Slippery Rock to lead the St. Louis Cardinals offense, but Big City has done it.  Team best .329 average, his 11 big flys are second as are 159 total bases. 61 Ks is barely within acceptable limits however.

Jhonny Peralta: B+ 

Quietly beginning to have a potent year at the plate. Only hitting .253, Peralta has 14 homers and 44 RBIs. His 66 Ks is too many and so are 13 double plays. But he wore out the Brewers last weekend.

Allen Craig: C- 

Craig has a few surprising stats, most of them bad. But one surprise is that he is third on the team with 43 RBIs. For a guy having a brutal year, that taint bad. But his 70 whiffs also lead the team, and so do his 138 groundouts. I suspect he also leads the team in frustration. Craig seems lost at the plate and unable to generate the consistently good at bats of a year ago. His .244 average won’t keep him in the lineup.

Oscar Taveras: D 

“Taveras” and “potential” are often used in the same sentence. But potential means he is not very good right now but might be someday. Someday better come pretty soon. Hitting .197 with just 5 RBIs, he has not impressed since his home run beat the Nationals in his first game. Can’t hit outside pitches and has fanned almost as many times as he has had hits. His slugging percentage is just .276. 

Jon Jay: B+ 

Whatever defensive deficiencies the Cardinals believe Jay has, his ability to hit keeps him in the lineup. There is nothing flashy about his .291 average and he has grounded into 12 double plays, but it would be hard to imagine a better hitter out of the eight hole.

Peter Bourjos: D- 

Jeez, we didn’t think he was Mickey Mantle, but could a brother get a hit once in a while? Bourjos has 52 strikeouts and fans once every 3.5 times at bat. Speed doesn’t do you any good if you can’t hit the ball. 

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