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So frustrating

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There’s nothing more frustrating during the course of a game then getting a runner to third base w/ no one out or 1 out and being unable to get him home. (Bet you thought I was going somewhere else w/ this thread, huh?) Walking the leadoff hitter or, worse, the #8 hitter w/ 2 outs is really frustrating, too. Making an error preceding a guy like Berkman or one of the other better hitters in the league drives me crazy but how many times do we say, when we pop up to 2nd or strike out w/ that runner on third and 1 out, "that’s going to cost us the game right there?"

Now, I’ll admit that, if Pujols strands that runner, I’m a little less frustrated. Under normal circumstances, I don’t want him giving himself up to get that runner home. If he can hit a double or hit one out of the park, I don’t want a grounder to 2nd. He can turn a runner on third into a crooked-number-inning w/ 1 swing of the bat so, unless it’s the 8th or 9th and the game’s tied or we’re down by one, I want him swinging for the big inning. But if it’s Kennedy, or Molina, or Schumaker … someone like that, you’d better damned well get that runner in.

It led me to wonder how we did last year in these circumstances. It always seems like we’re terrible in this circumstance b/c we can all think back to that game against the (fill in the blank) where (insert jerk player here) failed to get that runner in from third and we lost 5-4 and it’s the reason we didn’t make the playoffs b/c that game led to a (select random number here) game losing streak and the (Cubs or Brewers) won (select another random number) games in a row and….%^@$&*%$!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, it’s amazing how remarkably average the Cards were in this particular situation in 2008. See below:

Cards 348 214 84 6 202 46 44 19 .326 .372 .473 .845
NL Average 345.5 216.4 82.8 6.4 203 54.2 42.4 19.4 .323 .368 .474 .841

I have to say that I’m fairly encouraged by that. We were basically an average offensive team last year, maybe slightly better than average, and were average in those situations that I find the most frustrating. We were certainly better than I would have imagined. I bet we all remember some of those Ks and DPs but rarely we remember the SFs.

So who were the heroes and who were the goats? (Who was that bleepity-bleep who cost us that game against the Cubs?!!!!!)

Pujols 47 14 2 35 2 8 1 .538 .574 .885 1.459
Ludwick 42 10 0 25 7 8 2 .357 .381 .571 .952
Ankiel 29 5 0 10 11 3 1 .208 .241 .250 .491
Glaus 29 6 1 17 3 3 2 .261 .310 .478 .789
Skip 25 10 1 18 0 1 3 .455 .480 .636 1.116
Kennedy 24 7 1 19 1 4 2 .350 .292 .500 .792
Miles 21 7 1 16 2 1 2 .368 .381 .632 1.013
Molina 19 4 0 12 0 5 1 .400 .421 .400 .821

That Pujols guy’s pretty good, huh? I realize small sample size and all but a 1.459 OPS in 47 PAs is nothing to sneeze at. I’ll take it. Probably few of us are surprised to see Ankiel’s name next to the worst numbers here. It seemed as though he stunk in "clutch-type" situations and here’s exhibit A. I’m a little surprised to see Glaus’s numbers appear so "average" – relative to his numbers throughout the year – since, if we’ve got a runner on third and less than 2 outs, often we’re beating up a pitcher. Remember, these aren’t always 3-2 games here. Several of these incidents could be in the middle of a 5 run inning. I’d expect Glaus’s numbers to have been better. Even Ludwick, though very good in these situations, had a slightly higher OPS overall than in these situations. Still, I’ll take a .945 OPS and be happy, thank you very much.

Maybe what I found most surprising when doing this research is that the team had only 1 successful squeeze attempt last season. Anybody know the squeezer? I’d have never guessed it. One Brad Thompson in this game against the Astros. Shawn Chacon walked the bases loaded in the 2nd inning and the Cards took a 1-0 lead on Thompson’s successful squeeze. We went on to win 5-3. That was April 8. We had no successful squeezes in the subsequent 154 games.

Comment on this if you like or comment on what "failures" you find to be the most frustrating. As I said, this isn’t it for me. I detest double plays and botched squeeze plays and walking the pitcher and…

I better go take my high blood pressure meds now!

EDIT -- One more thing: I promised Hardcore a link to his fanpost about the 2006 NLCS game 7 that'll be on MLB TV tonight so here it is. Go Cards!