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Game 117 Open Thread: August 13, 2006

marquis maholm
12-10, 5.82 4-10, 4.81

consider the cardinals' last 48 games, broken into 16-game segments:
june 20 through july 6 3-13
july 7 through july 26 13-3
july 27 through august 12 4-12

as has been discussed, both of the slack periods began with a series sweep in chicago immediately following a series win vs the colorado rockies. st louis is through with the rockies for the year; they go back to chicago next weekend. maybe that series will spin the team of the bizarre eddy that seems to have snared them this summer --- and, if they're lucky, spin them into the main current and not onto the rocks.

no words about the game; instead, a quick glance at mr pujols, who seems to be pulling himself out of the slump that had some folks concerned for a while. i never thought he was slumping, except by comparison to the unprecedented pace he set the first two months of the year. this guy was gonna break the 75-year old single-season rbi record, remember? seems a long time ago . . . . at any rate, i thought i'd see if the slump (so-called) was really a cause for concern. i began by dividing his season into halves: pre- and post-oblique. those segments are now roughly equal in length:

ab r h 2b 3b hr bi w avg obp slg
pre-injury 185 52 57 7 0 25 65 44 .308 .442 .751
post-injury 177 35 62 18 1 10 28 22 .350 .428 .633
(per 180 ab)
180 38 60 14 1 12 38 24 .332 .416 .621

compare those bottom two lines . . . . almost identical. this, i believe, is what they call "regressing to the mean." pujols spent two months playing far above his own lofty standards, putting on one of the greatest 50-game displays of batsmanship in the history of the franchise. even without the injury, it's a 1 in 100 shot he could've sustained that unsustainable pace; but that's a moot point. the point that matters is that since returning to action on june 22, he has maintained the levels of excellence we have come to expect of him. he has been a saint; he simply hasn't been god, as he was for the first two months of this year.

note that albert's doubles have increased post-DL commensurately with the dropoff in his homers. in the first two months this year, he evidently powered a bunch of would-be doubles over the wall; now he's back to merely pounding them off the wall. when he had a better supporting cast, those doubles could inflict a lot of damage. this year (witness friday night), not so much.

there has been much made of pujols' recent failures in the clutch; there, too, he fails only by comparison to his immortal early-season feats. batting with runners in scoring position, he was nearly infallible before the all-star break: .443 / .596 / .869. since the break, he has tailed off in RISP situations to merely outstanding, posting a line -- .364 / .481 / .591 -- that matches up well with his career RISP figures (337 / .453 / .667). his 2d-half RISP line, by the way, is as good as the RISP line he won an MVP award with last season (.329 / .500 / .593).

if this be failure, the cardinals need more of it.

before i head off on vacation (see ya next monday!), i gotta get something off my chest. a grating vibe surfaced in the game threads last night -- not a big problem, but i want to curtail it before it becomes one. several people scolded the cardinal fan base for bad behavior such as "bitching" about the team, "complaining" about the team, and heaping "negativity" on the team. one poster hauled out the tiresome "fair-weather fans" canard and accused the cardinals' detractors of being "a bit spoiled."

those of you who are relatively new to Viva El Birdos (and welcome one and all) may not have realized that this is not a cheerleading section; it's a discussion site. all opinions are welcome here, be they critical or supportive of the cardinals, as long as they're well reasoned and supported by some evidence. differences of opinion are inevitable -- more than that, they're healthy. but it's not healthy when we start discussing whether there's too much negativity on the site, whether or not the fans are spoiled, and whether the level of complaining and bitching has become excessive.

that makes for some really, really boring discussions. the conversation's supposed to be about the team, not about the fans; if the focus of the conversation shifts from what the team is doing to what fans are saying about the team, the discussion dies. a lot of sports-chat boards fall into this pattern; i'll be damned if i'm gonna let it happen here. if you're sick of reading negative comments about the team, you have two choices: a) don't log on to this site; or better yet, b) log on here and respond to somebody's negative post with a well-thought-out counterargument.

i don't insist that we all "get along"; god forbid. but i do insist that we discuss the merits/demerits of baseball teams and baseball players, as opposed to the merits/demerits of fans. and i insist that we do it like adults, and not like kids calling names on the school playground.

ahhhh, that's better; now i can relax.

two quick hits from the minors: trey hearne won his 10th game last night, holding west michigan to 2 hits in 6 innings. what does this guy have to do to earn a promotion? and blake hawksworth had a dominating start at double a, striking out 10 in 6 innings of shutout ball.

off i go; longtime VEB member Valatan -- user account number 13 -- will be guest blogging tomorrow. he is the only member of this community that i know of who was in the ballpark for albert's historic missile shot in game 5 of last year's nlcs. the adam ottavino Q+A transcript is currently slated for tuesday.