In the majors, Cardinal pitching managed to finish in the top third in terms of ERA (4.01, 10th), opponent batting average (.253, 12th), and saves (43, tied 9th). With 83 wins, they were 12th in that category. They have a good rotation and a solid bullpen that hold leads and save close games.
Lefty closer Tyler Lyons (2.83 ERA, 3 SVs, 11.3 K/9) offers a slider and low-90s fastball that consistently stymie’s hitters. He had an 18.2 scoreless-inning streak last season that topped all Cardinal hurlers. Two righties are essential forces in relief. Luke Gregerson (2-3 W/L, 4.57 ERA, 10.3 K/9) continues to be a major contributor, having made a minimum of 59 appearances per season over the past 19 years. Matt Bowman (3-6 W/L, 3.99 ERA, 7.1 K/9) led the team in holds with 23 and in his first 10 appearances did not give up a run.
Cardinal hitters were fairly average last season. It would be helpful if they could get their stats up a bit in 2018. They did better than average in on-base percentage, notching a .334 mark (8th). They were 13th in RBI (728), 14th in batting average (.256), and 17th in slugging percentage (.426). The team stole 81 bases (17th). Defensively, they were ranked 14th in fielding percentage (.984) and tied for sixth in double plays (164).
Catcher Yadler Molina (.273 BA, 82 RBI, 18 HRs) was a hit-machine in September, as he drove in 22 runs. First baseman Jose Martinez (.309 BA, 46 RBI, 14 HRs) led MLB rookies in batting average and reached base safely 27 times in a row. Shortstop Paul DeJoung (.285 BA, 65 RBI, 25 HRs), who was second in Rookie of the Year voting, also put up some fine numbers, including 25 homers. That’s the second-most by a rookie in Cardinal history, only surpassed by Albert Pujols (37). Second baseman Kolten Wong (.285 BA, 42 RBI, 4 HRs) had four bunt hits and 16 infield hits last season.
At third, Carpenter is efficient and versatile. He can play the other corner spot if needed and is also a dependable substitute at second. Martinez is passable at first and DeJong gets the same grade at short. Wong is sound at second. Pham is an above-average defender in center, offering fine speed and tracking skills. In left, Ozuna offers fine arm strength, while right fielder has challenges on D.
Management and Front Office
Manager Mike is not noted for his skills as a tactician, and his decision-making has frustrated numerous players. He does have some new coaches on hand, including pitching coach Mike Maddux. Maddux is a savvy baseball guy who uses detailed scouting reports and specific strategies in making pitching decisions. He may have been brought in to balance-off Matheny’s methods. GM Mike Girsch is new to the position, but he’s been an assistant for a long time. He’s expected to be an analytics based decision-maker.
St. Louis Cardinals 2018 Preview: Final Word
The Cardinals last won the World Series in 2011. That year, they were the wild card team. Our St. Louis Cardinals 2018 preview sees a team that could possibly get into the postseason once again as a wild card. It’s doubtful they can top the division with the Cubs in their way. Then again, Chicago had its issues last year. They are vulnerable.