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Random May Facts

As May draws to a close, it’s no secret that the offense has struggled this month after being especially potent in the first month of the season. Some of that, inarguably, is a result of the injury to Ludwick. Ankiel’s injury may have played a role as well but, let’s face it, he wasn’t exactly knocking the cover off the ball before he was hurt. So here are some random offensive facts about the team as we sit here on the penultimate day of May.

Team batting:

April .285 .369 .450
May .225 .293 .387

As a team, we’ve taken 32 fewer walks in May than in April and we have 6 fewer extra base hits. The team’s BABIP is down 75 points in May, from .314 in April to .239. It’s reasonable to believe, therefore, that some of the offensive slump is attributable to bad luck.

Our 3B:

Thurston BA OBP SLG
April .278 .371 .407
May .217 .338 .400
since April 27 .197 .321 .352

April .385 .432 .641
May .130 .200 .239
since April 28 .132 .190 .226

Brendan Ryan is 19th in the majors among shortstops w/ 70+ PAs in wOBA, right behind Adam Everett.

Team batted ball data:

April 19.5 42.2 38.3 10.2 9.8
May 18.0 46.5 35.6 8.4 11.9

What’s noticeable about the batted ball data is that we’ve hit fewer line drives and fly balls and more grounders in May than April. There’s one reason the BA has fallen so precipitously. It’s also noticeable that we seem to be slightly lucky in May w/ regard to the number of fly balls that have left the ballpark. 10% is about average across the majors and we were right on that in April but in May we’re about 2% above that. That may be due to our schedule and park effects in the 2 months as much as anything.

Plate discipline data:

O-swing% Z-swing% Swing% O-contact% Z-contact% Contact% Zone%
April 25.1 68.5 45.7 58.5 89.4 80.5 47.6
May 26.4 68.3 47.7 59 86.4 78.9 50.9

Considering the fact that we have taken so many fewer walks in May than April, it should come as no surprise that our swing % is 2% higher in May than it was in April. Even so, the team is swinging at a higher % of the pitches they’re seeing outside the zone as well – up 1.3% from April. In May, no team has seen a higher percentage of pitches in the strike zone than the Cards have, at 50.9%. This tells me that teams do not fear our hitters right now – and why should they considering the way we’ve been hitting? They’re throwing more strikes to us and, as evidenced by the fall in the z-contact%, we’re making contact on strikes less frequently than in April. So, we’ve seen more pitches in the zone in May but made contact less frequently. We’re swinging at more pitches outside the zone as well. Ok, so the decline in our BABIP isn’t all bad luck.

I checked BP to see try and figure out the quality of pitchers we’ve faced this year. Unfortunately, you can’t break that data up by month but you can get some sense of it based on Ludwick’s numbers relative to the rest since he has twice as many April PAs as May PAs. Among 280 major league hitters w/ 90+ PAs so far this season, 5 of 10 Cardinals are in the top half of all hitters in pitchers’ OBP against – meaning those pitchers have yielded the highest OBPs in the majors. (Low numbers mean weakest pitchers faced.) The rank is out of 280 hitters.

pitchers’ OBP against
Ankiel 54
Duncan 68
Pujols 79
Skip 92
Barden 138
Thurston 142
Ludwick 158
Rasmus 161
K. Greene 253
Molina 261

More bad luck for Greene, huh? He’s faced some of the toughest pitching in the big leagues this year. Based on Ludwick’s numbers, it seems as though we faced tougher pitching in April than in May. You can’t say that for certain but Ludwick had 79 PAs in April and had, before last night, 39 in May – a 2:1 ratio. Considering the fact that Pujols has faced much weaker pitching than Ludwick and he has many more May PAs, I would guess that the pitching we’ve faced this month has been weaker than the pitching we faced in April. That’s disappointing, to say the least.

Finally, there was some pretty good discussion yesterday about the abysmal bullpen construction so far this season. To wit:

  • Since being acquired, Blaine Boyer has pitched in 13 out of a possible 31 games. He’s thrown 10.2 IP. I understand liking the guy’s stuff, but if they’re not going to use him, why did we acquire him?
  • Brad Thompson’s spent the bulk of the season on the 25 man roster and has thrown a total of 14.2 IP. He last pitched on May 17 – almost 2 weeks ago. He pitched exactly 1 time while Ryan Ludwick was on the DL yet was on the roster the duration.
  • Chris Perez, too, has thrown just 14.2 IP for the season. Between he, Thompson, and Boyer, that’s a grand total of 40 innings (.833 per game) – fewer than Kyle McClellan and Jason Motte combined.
  • Finally, 5 times the Cards have used pitchers to pinch hit – 2nd most in the NL behind the Reds. Micah Owings has pinch hit 7 times this year, w/ 2 doubles and a home run. Only 1 of the Cards’ pitchers’ 5 PH attempts did we sacrifice a runner over. Besides the Cards and Micah Owings, NL pitchers have only pinch hit 10 times this season. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an extra position player on the roster to pinch hit when we needed it? BTW, Cards’ pitchers’ are 0-4 w/ 3 Ks in pinch hitting appearances.

Late game again tonight. Hopefully this one turns out a little better.