How is it possible, in one year, for a team to go from scoring 783 runs which was third most in Major League Baseball to just 619, good for a tie for 23rd? It really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The Cardinals offense, for the most part was the same.
But it was largely the same guys as the year before. Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Allen Craig (for a while), Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina all came back to begin 2014. That’s why the regression from one season to the next just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Who could possibly have predicted Craig falling off the face of the earth by hitting just .237 with a .638 OPS in 367 at-bats? Who could have thought with Mark Ellis as insurance the Cards would get so little from 2nd base while Wong was learning the ropes in the big leagues?
At some point you just need to realize sometimes luck has a lot to do with it. A lot of things went right for the Redbirds in 2013. Think of it like their best case scenario. Then, a lot went wrong in 2014. Think of it like their worst case scenario.
Take Matt Carpenter for instance.
His ’13 season was unbelievable. A .318 average, .392 on-base percentage, .873 OPS and 55 doubles. Considering that was his first ever season as a regular starter it was hard to figure out at the time if that was who he was (a perennial All Star destined for greatness) or if that was just the upper level of what he can do.
His ’14 answered that. The average slipped to .272. The on-base percentage down to .375. The OPS to .750. The doubles down 22 to 33.
Now that’s still a very nice season and certainly something the Cardinals would take going forward. But it also shows the two extremes of what someone can do in just a couple years. A few balls drop and go your way and the next thing you know you have 55 doubles. A season later those few balls are randomly hit right at someone and the next thing you know you “only” have 33 doubles.
It’s just the way things go.
Kolten Wong is a year older. So, too, is Matt Adams. Just a hunch here but something tells me Jason Heyward will provide more offense in right field than Allen Craig and company did in 2014. Matt Carpenter may not reach his 2013 totals but he’ll almost certainly beat last year. Same with Yadier Molina most likely if he can stay healthy (and reports are he’s lost a lot of weight to help him do just that).
The Cardinals always pitch well. Sometimes they have to dig into their minor leagues or make a trade to fill some gaps due to injury. But, in the end, they always pitch well.
How much better they are on offense will determine how good they are in 2015.