For the St. Louis Cardinals' 2013 Home Opener, They Host the Homer-Happy Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium

Ezra Shaw

There will be Clydesdales, Cardinals legends in red blazers, and a parade of current players at Busch Stadium today. Then the Redbirds will square off against the Reds is a good ol' fashioned National League Central showdown.

The Cardinals flew home to St. Louis happy yesterday after winning Sunday's series rubber match against the defending World Series champions. The 14-2 drubbing of the Giants was a welcome punctuation to an up-and-down West Coast road trip that started in the desert and ended on shoreline of the San Francisco Bay. That El Birdos return to the Gateway City having salvaged a 3-3 split is a welcome result even if losing the longest game in Diamondbacks history leaves us wondering what might have been.

Had the Redbirds not blown two saves in the Arizona series' rubber match, they may not have played five hours and 32 minutes Wednesday night and might be returning home with a record of 4-2, tied with the Reds atop the National League Central. But Trevor Rosenthal and Mitchell Boggs did each notch their first blown save and the Cardinals host Cincy in the home opener looking up at the Reds in the division standings, a position that was rather commonplace a year ago.

The Reds arrive in St. Louis for their first road series of the year after having bested the Angels of Anaheim and ballyhooed Nationals at the Great American Ballpark. The Reds are not without extra-inning heartburn and heartache of their own. Indeed, their two losses occurred in extras. The Reds lost 3-1 in 13 innings on Opening Day to the Angels and they were also topped by the Nationals 7-6 on Saturday. With a bit better luck, the Redlegs could very well be 6-0.

Extra-inning travails are not the only thing the Reds and Cards have had in common. Both clubs got downright fraudulent on their postseason-caliber opponents during a weekend game. On Saturday, Cincinnati plated 15 runs against Washington on 19 hits. The Cardinals followed suit on Sunday in San Fran, rapping out 15 hits and scoring 14 runs.

The Reds have crossed home plate 38 times in their first six games for an average of 6.33 runs per game. The Cards have notched 37 runs through six games, a 6.17-runs-per-game average. While the two clubs' runs-scored totals are nearly identical, the way they've driven in runs has been quite different.

CARDINALS VS. REDS 2013 BATTING STATS

Club

PA

SO

BB

H

R

2B

3B

HR

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

CIN

259

53

21

59

38

11

1

11

.260

.333

.463

.796

STL

257

54

16

60

37

12

1

4

.261

.315

.374

.689


The Cardinals and Reds have both hit for a solid batting average (BA). The Cards have hit for an average one point higher than the Reds because the Redbirds have notched one more hit. St. Louis has laced 12 doubles to the Reds' 11; both clubs have hit one triple.

The difference is the dingers. Cincy has clubbed 11 home runs in just six games. The Cardinals, on the other hand, have hit only four. The Reds are tied with the Braves in second place on the NL team homer ranks; the Rockies have hit 13 dingers as a team. With a mere four home runs, the Cardinals are ahead of only the Dodgers (3), Marlins (2), Pirates (1), and Padres (1).

The difference in the two clubs' respective home-run totals is responsible for the entirety of their Slugging Percentage (SLG) gap. With a .463 SLG, the Reds have slugged 89 points higher than the Cardinals. During the Hot Stove, we looked at how Isolated Power (ISO) is a better barometer of how much power a team or player hits for. Using ISO, the story is the same. The Reds' .203 ISO is head and shoulder above the Cards' .113 ISO.

Neither team is likely to continue at their current ISO pace. Last year's team leader in ISO for the NL was Milwaukee at .177 and the Dodgers' .122 ISO was the league's lowest. The Reds won't play 100% of their games in the hitter-friendly confines on the banks of the Ohio River where teams posted a .170 ISO in 2012. Likewise, the Cardinals won't play one-half of their games in the pitcher's haven that is the Giants' ballpark, which played host to a cumulative .126 ISO last season.

Nonetheless, the Reds' batters are on an impressive hot streak as the club arrives at Busch Stadium for the Cardinals' Home Opener. The Cardinals have strung together quite a few singles and appear poised to add more homers to their offensive mix. The first series between these clubs should be an interesting one to watch.

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