A Mid-Summer Look At The St. Louis Cardinals Offense

Apr 8, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran (3) is greeted by left fielder Matt Holliday (7) after hitting a 2-run homer in the 7th inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE

The St. Louis Cardinals entered play on Sunday with one of the top offenses in the National League. The club ranked first in the NL in runs scored, first in hits, third in homers, first in batting average (BA), first in on-base percentage (OBP), second in slugging percentage (SLG), and second in on-base plus slugging (OPS). The Cardinals have a well-rounded attack with All-Star caliber production from multiple regulars (even if some of them have been disabled by injury for a fair chunk of the season).

After the jump, we'll have a look at the stats for the Cardinals position players entering play on Sunday.

Player

G

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

Craig

45

195

.308

.374

.610

.985

164

Beltran

81

339

.300

.386

.549

.936

153

Holliday

82

364

.317

.398

.524

.922

151

Molina

75

302

.304

.357

.500

.857

132

Freese

78

318

.294

.346

.481

.827

124

Jay

42

175

.322

.394

.408

.802

121

Furcal

82

368

.273

.336

.364

.700

92

Descalso

73

211

.223

.311

.332

.643

77

Greene

61

172

.228

.287

.380

.666

81

M. Carpenter

51

150

.292

.367

.500

.867

135

Schumaker

44

127

.301

.365

.416

.781

114

Robinson

62

133

.250

.293

.339

.632

73

OPS+ is a stat the adjusts OPS by stadium and compares it to the league average. An OPS+ of 100 is exactly league-average. The further below 100 a player's OPS+ is, the worse it is. The more above 100 a player's OPS+, the better it is. As you can see, the Cardinals are getting a lot of above-average offensive production.

During the offseason, we looked at the Cardinals well-rounded offense through sOPS+, a fun stat on Baseball Reference that shows an OPS split relative to the league's OPS. For this exercise, we're comparing Cardinals catchers to the league average for catchers, Cardinals first baseman against the league average for first baseman, etc. As with OPS+, 100 is average for that position; higher than 100 is better than average and lower is below average.

Season

C

1B

2B

SS

3B

LF

CF

RF

2001

76

96

109

90

116

116

150

123

2002

90

89

88

119

105

119

148

97

2003

82

107

88

137

136

130

141

96

2004

78

165

88

97

148

82

163

97

2005

72

148

88

113

85

110

126

101

2006

63

146

89

94

130

91

95

95

2007

86

132

78

93

83

104

97

86

2008

100

148

103

78

115

98

122

123

2009

105

150

100

104

75

99

87

90

2010

95

146

87

74

79

134

122

101

2011

123

122

102

98

106

162

100

118

2012

121

131

104

103

127

136

99

138

Whether you call it balance or depth, the Cardinals have it. For the second consecutive season, general manager John Mozeliak has put together a lineup that is formidable from top to bottom. Most impressively, the Cardinals have played almost all of 2012 without the top two first basemen on their 2011 depth chart. Albert Pujols left for Anaheim and Lance Berkman has taken only 49 plate appearances due to injury.

Another difference between 2011 and 2012 is that David Freese has been healthy and excellent at third base. Freese totaled 363 PAs last season and has 318 so far this year. He is also hitting for more power. Despite his average being three points lower, his SLG is 40 points higher.

Most interesting to me is the St. Louis sOPS+ for second base and shortstop. In relationship to their peers at the keystone, the Redbirds' second base hydra has been about as good as Rafael Furcal relative to his peers at shortstop. An upgrade at second base now seems more luxurious given the questions about the rotation moving forward.

In the offseason, we asked if a Pujols-less Cardinals offense could be as good. By and large, it has been. As was the case in 2011, the strength of the lineup is its depth.

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