The Cardinals now rank second in the league in team wOBA (.356). This is not a joke. Since I wrote that piece about their slow start offensively merely one week ago, they started scoring runs at a torrid pace. Their BABIP has jumped 61-pts (.324)! They have hit fewer ground balls (48.8%), more line drives (20.2%); their fly ball rate hasn’t changed much (31.0%), but they’ve cleared the fence at a more realistic rate (12.9%). While they’ve started walking a little less (7.9 BB%), they have the third lowest strikeout rate in the league (16.7 K%). Altogether, the Cardinals have transformed from an unlucky team to a surprisingly fortunate one in the span of seven days. Fans, let’s keep our cool. Much like we shouldn’t have panicked when the offense was seemingly MIA after one week, we shouldn’t be quick to anoint them league leaders either. Perspective, friends; you can either have it now or the long season will eventually force it upon you.
With that said, it has been a lot of fun watching Lance Berkman hit 6 home runs in the span of 5 games.
Let’s take a look at the past few games…
The Good: The Cardinals’ offense generated their highest run output of the season (.417 WPA). Colby led the charge in win probability (.238 WPA); he went 3-6 with a bunt single, a two-out 2 RBI double to put the team up 4-0, and added another double later.
The Bad: Despite Westbrook’s positive WPA (.077), he really wasn’t that sharp allowing 9 hits and 2 walks in 5.1 IP. He was only charged with 2 ER as a result of Pujols’ fifth inning error.
The Impressive: Eduardo Sanchez debuted in dominant fashion by striking out 5 of the 7 batters he faced; his arsenal featured a fastball that touched 95 mph and a sharp breaking ball that Gameday’s pitch f/x had trouble differentiating between a slider and curveball. For what it’s worth, I thought it was a slider when watching the game live that night.
The Good: The offense had another strong day to outshine Jaime Garcia’s least outstanding start of the season. Every starter recorded at least one hit, but Matt Holliday helped the team’s cause the most (.234 WPA); he was 3-5 on the night with 2 2B, 2 R, and 3 RBI).
The Bad: Although Jaime’s start was less fantastic than his first two, it was still acceptable given his ability to limit the damage to 3 runs (2 earned) despite allowing 8 hits and 2 walks in 5 innings. Franklin had a chance to instill Cardinals’ fans with maybe just one iota of confidence, but faltered by surrendering a home run to Matt Kemp. To Franklin’s credit, that was the only hit he allowed and the other three balls in play were grounders that resulted in outs.
The Impressive: Mitchell Boggs had a dominant relief performance that featured 3 Ks, 1 BB, and 0 H in 2.0 IP. That’s reassuring given his back issues this spring and the need for someone to assume the higher leverage roles with McClellan’s jump to the rotation and Franklin’s performance to date.
The Good: Albert Pujols did his best to silence the slump talk by cranking out his first multi-homer game of the season (.081 WPA). They didn’t count much for win expectancy since they were mostly insurance runs. By the way, that was his third home run in two days.
The Bad: Not much to be upset about in this one. Lohse had another strong outing and sits at 2.50 FIP and 2.90 xFIP after 22.1 IP. Meanwhile, Jason Motte picked up a couple of strikeouts in his one inning pitched.
The Impressive: Lance Berkman hit two – count them – two more home runs to give him a total of six in an incredibly short five game span. I’ll be honest. When Berkman joined the club, I was mostly okay with the move based on his ability to draw walks… but it’s been reassuring to see him swing the bat with conviction. And (bonus) he hasn’t looked like a complete buffoon in the outfield either. Total zone has him playing a roughly average RF thus far at Baseball-Reference.