Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: numbers

Good, bad, ugly: the first half by the numbers

NOTE: Yes, today is Thursday, which has always meant Photo Thursday. We’ve taken an All-Star break from our photos of the week, but will be back next week – with Photo Wednesday! Look for the best Cardinals pictures on a new day for the second half of the season.

Thankfully, baseball returns tonight with the Cardinals taking on the Dodgers at Busch Stadium in the first of a four-game series. Hopefully Chris Carpenter will return to his pre-forearm-hit form and the bats will have stayed hot with the three-day break. Before the second half of the season begins, here’s one more look at the first half: by the numbers.

47
Wins by the Cardinals at the All-Star break
41
Losses by both the Cards and the Reds at the break
1

Games the Cards are behind the Reds in the NL Central

65

Days the Cardinals spent in first place, most recently on June 29

10

Most games above .500


0

Most games below .500

5
Longest winning streak


4

Longest losing streak


12

Most runs scored in a game (May 31), also most runs allowed in a game (June 7, July 3, July 6)


391
Total runs scored by the Cardinals

332

Total runs allowed by the Cardinals

3.39

Team ERA, second in the Major Leagues (behind San Diego)
.260
Team batting average, tied for fifth in National League (with Brewers, Mets and Braves)


30
Combined wins from Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia

6

Combined wins from Brad Penny and Blake Hawksworth (3 each)

2
Combined wins from Kyle Lohse and P.J. Walters (1 each)

0

Wins from Jeff Suppan


2

Combined losses from Joe Mather and Evan McLane (1 each)

9.00
Joe Mather’s ERA

Infinity
Evan McLane’s ERA

1
Blown saves each by Ryan Franklin and Jason Motte

16
Saves by Ryan Franklin
38
Games the Cards have won when leading after 8 innings
1
Game (unfortunately memorable) the Cards lost when leading after 8 innings

2
Pinch-hit home runs by Nick Stavinoha

2
Grand slams hit by the Cardinals this season (Yadier Molina, Felipe Lopez)

.400
Matt Holliday’s average in 10 games batting second.

.667
Albert Pujol’s average when the count is 3-0.

.354
Albert’s average with RISP

.221
Matt’s average with RISP

11
Longest hitting streak of the season, currently a tie between Jon Jay (ongoing) and Albert Pujols

9
Team high in stolen bases, by both Colby Rasmus and Albert Pujols

20
Runners Yadier Molina has caught stealing

12
Errors by Brendan Ryan, a team high

11
Errors by Skip Schumaker

7
Games the Brewers have played at Busch Stadium this season

0
Times the Cubs have played at Busch Stadium this season

9
Times the Cards have played the Diamondbacks this season

3
Times the Cards have played the Cubs this season

12
Games in the second half against the Cubs

1,677,904
Attendance at Busch Stadium this season (third-best in National League)

6-1
Record on first game of home stand (hopefully a good sign for tonight)

71
Mike Shannon’s age today – happy birthday!

1
My prediction for where the Cards will finish in the NL Central

Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, Cardinals.com, Yahoo! Sports

Statistics Overload

I just finished up a fun weekend at the lake with family. While enjoying sunshine, water, and loved ones, I was also thinking a bit about baseball statistics. Not specific stats, but the more general topic. My mother (not a sports fan by any means) has a budding interest in baseball because I chatter about it constantly. But her eyes glaze over when the talk turns to numbers. Not all baseball fans enjoy (or even understand) the vast array of statistical information spouted by announcers, scribes or die hard fans.
Lately the volume of statistics and analysis has become overwhelming for me as well. Focus on the slumps and situational batting has replaced the experience of enjoying a game. Sports announcers tell us how difficult Yadier Molina is to strike out (right before he strikes out) or that Albert Pujols has not had much success against a pitcher (just as Pujols hammers the next pitch out of the park). Relevant? Not often.
Statistics in baseball have a life of their own. Even though numbers cannot accurately predict future production, players, managers and fans still pour over them as if seeking biblical truth. While reading the book Three Nights in August, I have been amazed by the sheer volume of research that Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan put into each and every Cardinals game. Every detail of previous history with an opposing batter or pitcher is used in preparation for the series. And yet with hours and hours of research, not to mention video tape and scouting reports, batters still only get on base an average of 1 out of 3 times at bat – if they are lucky!
Statistical splits do make great trivia – such as the success a particular batter has versus a certain pitcher on a particular field during the month of June. But for numbers that do not predict the future, are they overrated?
What would baseball be without the incessant discussion of stats and figures? I am beginning to think that sounds like a pleasant scenario.
Baseball is most definitely a game of strategy, a battle of the minds. My question is this: does an abundance of data cloud the issue or make it clearer? Would a batter with a great record against a pitcher have less advantage if he were unaware of his previous success? Does a slugger hitting poorly with the bases loaded then feel extra pressure to perform when that situation arises again? I am curious if the game would be played differently (for better or worse) if players and managers did not fixate on the numbers.
Last season was glorious – my first true summer of pure baseball love. Oblivious to lefty-lefty matchups, intricacies of Tony LaRussa’s lineup fiddlings, or the alphabet soup of WAR, RISP, OBP and OPS, I fell in love with the game.
The more I learn about the game and delve deeper into the business of baseball, I wonder if I am losing touch with the beautiful simplicity of it all. Part of me misses those days when I was unaware of which player was slumping or whose batting average with runners in scoring position was faltering. Each game was a new beginning with a chance to watch the action unfold, to see who would be the game’s MVP; and the only stat I knew was the score.
When Brendan Ryan or Matt Holliday steps into the batters box, I want the same excitement and anticipation that “this might be the time.” The feeling that there is always hope, always a possibility. After all, nothing is a foregone conclusion, no matter how convincing the pregame numbers were. Just this past week for example, could any statistics have predicted Brendan Ryan would hit a 3-run home run on Friday?

Stats are really irrelevant to the enjoyment of the game. Why, even a team on a prolonged losing streak could rally late in the season and battle into the playoffs – unless of course that team is the Cubs.
Maybe I will just ignore baseball stats for a while and let Tony LaRussa fuss over them and work his magic. I think I might just enjoy savoring baseball “in the moment” for now.
Play Ball! =)

In _____ We Trust

As I was watching the broadcast last night, the silly text poll that Fox Sports Midwest runs every night caught my eye. The question was on who the fans trusted the most for the Cardinals – the offense, the defense, or the pitching. For the first time that I can recall, I honestly had no idea which one I would choose. These things happen when you are playing .667 ball, one would hope.

So let’s break this down a little. I’ll hold my final decision for the end, and we’ll see if it holds water. So buckle in for fun with numbers with Ang (I promise it’ll be at least as fun as one of my math classes – no really)!

The Offense 
Coming into the beginning of the year, we were all feeling fairly confident that the Cardinals would have no trouble scoring runs. After having some fun with the sortable stats on mlb.com, here’s where I’ve found the Cardinals stand with the rest of the NL:
Hits: 4th (Cubs are first – bet you didn’t expect that, did you?)
Home runs: 3rd
Walks: 5th
Strike outs: 3rd most, with 210… 3 true outcomes, anyone?
Here’s a fun one – intentional walks: 1st with 21. No other team even is in the double digits. Fear? Respect? I’ll accept both as correct answers.


Obviously I did not choose very in-depth numbers or newer statistical measurements here. Heck, I didn’t even throw any percentages at you! But it’s safe to say even with these small-ish sample sizes of the last month+ that this team is going to get on base (the OBP of .340 told me so… oops! Percentages!). I know that we’ve had those games where Albert’s up with the bases loaded or one of the bench guys like Stavinoha pinch hits in a critical situation and we as fans just know that this is going to be the at-bat that breaks open the game. Sometimes it doesn’t happen, and Albert pops up or Stavi strikes out. Still, the Cards are creating 5.4 runs per game. We’ll lose some 1-0, but we won’t lose a lot of them.


Pitching
It’s safe to say that our pitchers have been stellar this season. They’re tops in the league with a 2.58 ERA, an 88% quality start percentage, and have given up the fewest home runs with 13. It’s said that pitching wins games, and when we’re winning on the strengths of Adam Wainwright’s curveball, Jaime Garcia’s incredible poise for a rook, Chris Carpenter’s command of a general, Brad Penny’s flames and Kyle Lohse’s quality starts, it’s pretty easy to see why our starters are a combined 14-4. Ready for this? We’re also second in runs, earned runs, walks, and walks/hits per inning pitched.

Surprise! Those numbers include the bullpen guys. All the accolades I’ve heard for our pitchers have been aimed in the general direction of the starters, but the pen’s held their own rather admirably. Consider this – they’re tops in the league with a mere 18% of their inherited runners scoring. The league average is 35%, and they’re having fun out in Arizona where the pen’s allowed a whopping 53% of their inherited runners to touch home. The pen isn’t getting cheap luck either – they’ve got the highest leverage index in the league – meaning Tony isn’t afraid to go to them when the game is on the line.

Defense
Everyone knows we’ve got a fairly groundball-heavy staff, thanks to Dave Duncan’s pitch-to-contact/live and die by the sinker mentality. It’s pretty nice for Carpenter to be on the mound with 2 on and 1 out and know that he’s got a .989 fielding percentage running around behind him waiting to gobble up double play balls, isn’t it? 1 error for every 100 chances – that’s roughly what it breaks down to. That’s out of 1,082 total chances. That right there should be enough, but let’s look closer…

It doesn’t hurt to have a Gold Glove winner like Yadi behind the plate throwing out over 40% of would be base-stealers; Freese, Brendan, Skip, and Albert turning a stunning 32 double plays; and a mere 13 errors so far on the year. True, sometimes the errors become glaring, as they did for CDD favorite David Freese in Milwaukee back in April. However, I spend much more time marveling at the diving stops, flying catches, and catch/spin/throws than I do the rare errors. We’ve already got 3 Gold Glove-winning players on the team, and I know Erika, Chris, and I aren’t the only 3 that think Brendan could easily win one, plus Freese has been flashing the leather as of late as well.

Bottom line, to me anyway, is to send my vote the way of the defense. Our pitchers are scary beyond words, but throw them out there with Florida’s defense (a .974 fielding percentage, 14 double plays, and 25 errors) and some of our pitchers’ rougher innings suddenly look a lot more rough. You can’t keep a groundball staff going without a strong defense behind you waiting to snag every ball they can dive, jump or stab at. Yes, our offense is absolutely terrifying and our pitchers make hitters weak in the knees, but on the nights where the runners aren’t crossing the plate (see last night) or the pitchers are struggling to find location, the defense is there, doing their job and doing it amazingly well.

Agree? Disagree? Fell asleep with all the numbers? Debate in the comments!

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