All right, the St. Louis Cardinals.
What the heck?
They haven’t had Adam Wainwright, they haven’t had Matt Holliday, and they still have the best record in baseball (51-24 entering play June 30).
For the Cardinals, though, this overcoming of odds isn’t the exception; it’s the rule.
Albert Pujols walked, and the Cardinals didn’t miss a beat. The team has changes managers, changed stars, changed staring pitchers. No beats missed.
Granted, the recent report involving the Houston Astros may sully a good portion of the Cardinals’ reputation, but from a pure baseball perspective, how are they getting this done? Especially since they don’t blow you away with players like Giancarlo Stanton and Clayton Kershaw?
“No, they don’t,” MLB Network broadcaster Bob Costas said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “And they don’t hit a whole lot of home runs. And unlike the Whitey Herzog teams and other Cardinal teams historically, they don’t steal a lot of bases, which would make up for a lack of power. But they do hit a lot of doubles, generally speaking. They’ve been a very good situational-hitting team for many, many years, and every Cardinal, it seems, makes contact and is flying out of the box. So what could be a single becomes a double. Every extra base is taken. They make very, very few fundamental mistakes. They’re a very good defensive team, by and large, and they’re resourceful, and they play the game the right way.
“And where they are stand out is in their overall quality pitching,” Costas continued. “It is amazing that without Adam Wainwright – who has never won the Cy Young award but is always among the two or three top vote-getters in the Cy Young – they still have the best ERA of any starting rotation in either league, and their bullpen ERA is the second-best behind Kansas City in the major leagues. That’s even without Jordan Walden, who’s a very good setup man. They lost him early in the season, and they only recently got Jaime Garcia back, so they were without him at the beginning of the year.
“But it’s like you say, Doug. No matter what happens, (the Cardinals have success). Pujols goes; for a few years, Allen Craig is terrific. Then they trade Allen Craig just when the bottom is about to drop out, and sadly for him, it looks like his career has hit a dead end and he’s back in the minor leagues. But while he was with the Cardinals, he was one of the best RBI men in all of baseball. Matt Adams is also missing. Productive first baseman. But they’ve gotten reasonable service out of the veteran Mark Reynolds.
“So it seems like every time someone goes down – Matt Holliday goes down and Randal Grichuk gets a chance to play and he’s been outstanding – things just seem to work out. And it happens too often for it to be just coincidence. They’re a very smart and resourceful organization.”