It’s been an interesting year for the St. Louis Cardinals. High expectations were shot when the Chicago Cubs got off to a scintillating start. Now the Cardinals are getting back into wild card race, and gaining a little ground on the Cubbies. The Cardinals currently sit at 46-42, good for second in the division, and seven games behind the Cubs. So what are the contributing factors to where the Cardinals are today?
Cardinals 2016 Midseason Report
Biggest Surprise: Aledmys Diaz
Diaz has by far been the biggest surprise to the Cardinals season. A .315 average and the low strikeout numbers were something that was just not expected out of the rookie shortstop. An international signing in 2014, now Diaz leads the team in average. His plate discipline is interesting, as he only has 28 walks, but also has the second lowest strikeout total on the team. Diaz will continue to shock people, and if he improves his defense he could make a run at NL Rookie of the Year.
Biggest Disappointment: Starting Pitching
The Cardinals were an all-around great team during their stretch as a perennial power in the National League. Starting pitching was a strength, as they could boast a starting staff four to even six pitchers deep. Of the Redbird’s five starters, only one has an ERA under four, and a WHIP under 1.2. There are also only two starters who are over .500. While there are a few pitching staffs in baseball that have fared worse this season, this staff doesn’t command opposing batters’ fear, as St. Louis rotations of years past did.
Mid-Season MVP: Matt Carpenter
Matt Carpenter is far and away the team MVP for the midway point. Carpenter leads the team in OBP, SLG, OPS, home runs, triples, doubles, walks and RBIs. The only player relatively close to the type of impact Carpenter has had, is Diaz. Due to Carpenter’s superior defense, he’s given the nod. It also helps to lead the team in nearly every offensive stat other than hits and batting average.
What To Watch For: The Impact of the Veterans
All three of the big name Cardinals veterans have vastly underperformed this season. Adam Wainwright is statistically one of the worst pitchers on the squad this year. As Yadier Molina’s body continues to break down due to the nature of his position, his numbers have gone down as well. Matt Holliday? He’s also experiencing a major dip in his numbers. The usual .280/.290 hitter is all the way down to a paltry .241. If the Cardinals want to really make a run at the Cubs, the veterans need to get going.