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Will the St. Louis Cardinals enjoy better luck with RISP in 2015?

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In 2013, the Cardinals enjoyed extremely good fortunes with RISP. In 2014, the Cardinals hit about as badly with RISP as they did overall. Will the Cards experience better results in 2015?

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Do you remember how good the 2013 St. Louis Cardinals performed with runners in scoring position? Silly question, I know, since the dead horse that was that club's RISP batting line has had its skeleton beaten to dust long ago. Nonetheless, a refresher:

2013 St. Louis Cardinals Team Splits

Split

PA

BABIP

K%

BB%

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

RISP

1621

.377

15.8

10.6

.330

.402

.463

.865

.133

.370

137

Overall

6202

.314

17.9

7.8

.269

.332

.401

.733

.133

.322

104

Bases Empty

3457

.280

19.3

6.9

.236

.297

.356

.653

.119

.292

84

The Cardinals' once-in-a-half-century performance helped them overcome an overall offensive performance that wasn't quite so great. The Cardinals placed first in the National League in runs scored with 783, second in BA, first in OBP, third in SLG, second in wOBA, and first in wRC+ despite not hitting for a lot of power. The Cards placed 12th (fourth from last) in the NL in Isolated Power (ISO), a stat based only on doubles, triples, and homers.

In 2014, the power outage continued but the RISP success didn't.

2014 St. Louis Cardinals Team Splits

Split

PA

BABIP

K%

BB%

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

RISP

1565

.294

17.3

9.9

.254

.336

.365

.701

.111

.307

95

Overall

6086

.300

18.6

7.7

.253

.320

.369

.689

.116

.308

95

Bases Empty

3351

.306

19.9

7.0

.253

.315

.372

.687

.118

.309

97

Okay, so maybe it would be much more accurate to say that the Cardinals well below-average power-hitting from 2013 became worse and bottomed out in 2014. Last season, the Redbirds' cumulative ISO ranked second-worst in the NL, behind only the lowly Padres.

Those of us who recognized that the Cardinals' historic RISP performance from 2013 was unlikely to continue also posited that the club's awful hitting with the bases empty was unlike to continue as well. Thus, the thinking went, while the Cards were unlikely to hit as well as they had with RISP in 2013, they were also unlikely to hit as horribly with the bases empty. Vindication never tasted so sour. The Cardinals batted a bit better with the bases empty than they did overall or with RISP. But this was due in large part to their overall and RISP batting lines plummeting back to earth. The Cardinals were well below average across the board in 2014.

For those who poo-poo Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP), the Cardinals' RISP performances in 2013 and 2014 likely come as a slap in the face. The Cardinals posted MLB's top line-drive rate with RISP in 2013, but even that wasn't enough to support a .377—.377!—BABIP with RISP. The gods of baseball pulled the BABIP lynchpin out from beneath the Cardinals with RISP in 2014, dropping it 83 points. The ripple effect was felt across their batting performance with ducks on the pond. The Cardinals' BABIP with RISP between 2013 and 2014 demonstrates the volatility of the stat in brutal fashion for St. Louis fans.

The Cards posted the NL's seventh-best BABIP with RISP in 2014 after posting the league's best in 2014, a .377 BABIP that was 59 points higher than second place, no less. The Cardinals posted the NL's highest LD% in 2013 with RISP at 25.3%, for what it's worth. Last season, St. Louis posted the NL's 10th-highest LD% at just 19.6%. It's no surprise then that their overall RISP performance tumbled.

In a cruel twist of fate, Cardinals fans find themselves in the opposite position of where we were at this time last year. Instead of attempting to convince ourselves, like the misguided Mike Matheny did last spring, that the club's 2013 performance with RISP wasn't due to good luck, we're attempting to stoke optimism for 2015 due to the fact that the prior season's lackluster RISP performance was due to bad luck. Unfortunately, the pendulum of fortune is highly unlikely to swing as far in the Cardinals' favor in 2015 as it swung against them in 2014 or in their favor during the magical 2013 season. The club's overall lack of power remains. With so many of their core players a year older, it appears likely that the Cardinals will struggle to score runs once again in 2015.