Comparing the 2013 St. Louis Cardinals to Other Cardinal Postseason Qualifiers of the Wild Card Era

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals clinched a postseason berth on Sunday even though they lost in Milwaukee. How do the 2013 Cardinals measure up to other St. Louis postseason qualifiers of the Wild Card era?

The Miami Marlins beat the Washington Nationals on Sunday afternoon behind a stellar start from Tom Koehler. When Logan Morrison caught Jayson Werth's foul popup for the game's final out, the Nats were mathematically eliminated the from postseason contention. Washington's fate was inextricably intertwined with that of three National League Central clubs. The St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Cincinnati Reds are all* postseason bound. It's just a question of which club will avoid the nasty, brutish, and short Wild Card game.

*The Nats are still alive in the postseason hunt. Their elimination number is 2. I incorrectly relied on erroneous tweets in concluding that Natitude was dead. It lives as Washington arrives in St. Louis with a postseason berth still possible.

The Reds thumped the Pirates 11-3 on the banks of the Allegheny River. Cincinnati's victory on Sunday won the three-game series and pulled the Redlegs in a tie for second in the Central. At 89-67, the Pirates and Reds sit 2.0 games back of the Cardinals, who were unable to complete a sweep of the Brewers in Milwaukee. The Cardinals' magic number to clinch the division title is five--for both Pitt and Cincy. Any combination of Cards' wins and Reds' losses that totals five means that the Cardinals will finish ahead of Cincinnati in the final Central standings. Likewise for Buccos' losses and Birdos' wins.

Tony La Russa arrived in St. Louis for the 1996 season and promptly won a division title. Bud Selig's expanded postseason format helped the 88-win Redbirds qualify for the franchise's first postseason berth since winning the 1987 National League Pennant. It was the first of what became on Sunday 11 postseason appearances in 18 seasons. This year's team has a chance to be one of the best clubs in this golden age of Cardinals baseball.

Year

Wins

Losses

Win Pct.

Div. or W.C.

Season Result

2004

105

57

.648

Div.

Lost in World Series

2005

100

62

.617

Div.

Lost in NLCS

2002

97

65

.599

Div.

Lost in NLCS

2000

95

67

.586

Div.

Lost in NLCS

2001

93

69

.574

W.C.*

Lost in NLDS

2013

91

63

.587

???

?????

2009

91

71

.562

Div.

Lost in NLDS

2011

90

72

.556

W.C.

Won World Series

2012

88

74

.543

W.C.

Lost in NLCS

1996

88

74

.543

Div.

Lost in NLCS

2010

86

76

.531

-

-

2008

86

76

.531

-

-

2003

85

77

.525

-

-

2006

83

78

.516

Div.

Won World Series

1998

83

79

.512

-

-

2007

78

84

.481

-

-

1999

75

86

.466

-

-

1997

73

89

.451

-

-

*In 2001, the Cardinals and Houston Astros both finished 93-69. The Astros won the tiebreaker for postseason seeding. Nonetheless, the Cardinals posted a "National League Central Division Champions" decal on the Busch Stadium outfield wall. I'm calling that season's postseason berth a Wild Card even though the season is considered to be the first shared division championship in MLB history.

The Cardinals have notched 91 wins and have six games left to play. The Redbirds return to the football-damaged confines of Busch Stadium with a chance to do something not done since 2009: win a division title. Depending on how the season concludes, this incarnation of the Cardinals could join rarefied company. Tying 2002's win total is possible if not probable. 2000's 95-win total seems more probable, if difficult.

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