Cardinals' power drought has continued to 2014

Don't worry. I got this. - Dilip Vishwanat

The Cardinals did not have a powerful team in 2013 and lost their leading home run hitter in Carlos Beltran. Early in the season, the Cardinals have continued to win, but have done so without a lot of power.

The Cardinals had one of the very best offenses in the National League in 2013, leading the league in runs. However, those runs were manufactured with minimal use of the home run compared to the rest of the league. After losing Carlos Beltran, there were some concerns that the Cardinals would continue to struggle with power, their RISP magic would dry up and the offense would suffer. Early in the 2014 season, those worries have not abated. They are not hitting as well with runners in scoring position, and they have continued to hit without power. With or without power, the Cardinals have consistently put forward one of the best offenses in baseball, and despite a low scoring offense at this point in the season, there is little reason to doubt that the Cardinals will continue to score runs.

When Albert Pujols was leading the Cardinals' offense, the team was generally solid when it came to offense, but they were in the middle of the pack the final few years when it came to power. That is not surprising considering Busch III is a tough place to hit home runs. Even the first year after Pujols left, the Cardinals were able to maintain middle of the road power numbers while being a very potent offense. Last year, the Cardinals saw a big dip in their power numbers. While some of it could be due to more difficult than normal conditions at home, their power rankings took a big hit in 2013.

NL Ranks HR HR/FB ISO wRC+

2010 8 10 11 5

2011 6 4 5 1

2012 7 5 7 1

2013 13 12 12 1

The last column is the most important one. Even though the Cardinals' runs, home run percentage on fly balls, and isolated slugging were all near the very bottom of the National League, they still managed to have the best offense for the third straight year. The final column, wRC+, adjusts for the park the Cardinals play in, but it does not know if the Cardinals got their hits with runners on or the bases empty. RISP magic means nothing to wRC+, and the Cardinals finished first last season once again.

The Cardinals can score runs and succeed without great power as they showed last season. They lost Beltran in the offseason, but installing Adams as the everyday first baseman, and replacing Pete Kozma and company (four home runs in 2013) with Jhonny Peralta (four home runs already) should make up for the loss of Beltran in the power department. The Cardinals have once again lacked power early in the season, but they have yet to make up for that deficiency elsewhere. Below are the Cardinals numbers from 2013 and thus far in 2014.

HR/FB % ISO wRC+

2013 8.9 0.133 106

2014 10.4 0.126 94

The Cardinals have actually done a little better so far in hitting the ball out of the park on fly balls and the isolated slugging is roughly the same, but overall the Cardinals are performing much worse relative to the rest of the league when it comes to hitting. Now compare the past two Aprils.

HR/FB % ISO wRC+

April 2013 8.5 0.125 89

2014 10.4 0.126 94

The Cardinals have gone through this exact same situation just one year ago. They may not be hitting as well with runners in scoring position, and they are still not hitting for great power, but good pitching has carried the day so far for the Cardinals this season. Given the talent on the roster, the depth in the minors and one of the best one through eight lineups in baseball, there is little cause for concern on offense despite struggling in the power department for the second year in a row.

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