It is impossible to know when a baseball game begins if something historic is about to happen. Sure, if you are about to watch a World Series game, you know that a game is going to be consequential, but those who attended Game 6 of the 2011 World Series had no way to know before the game (and for the first 8 2/3 innings of the game) that they were witnessing what would be remembered as a classic. Had the 7,290 fans who attended Len Barker's 1981 perfect game for the Cleveland Indians known what was coming, you can rest assured that there would not have been nearly 70,000 empty seats at Cleveland Stadium.
When I tuned in to Fox Sports Midwest for the Cardinals' tilt against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night, I didn't expect much more than a regular season baseball game. Considering there would be an NBA Finals game that night, I actually cared slightly less than normal. But sometimes, that is when history happens. And last night, the world changed. And I believe it changed for the better.
I will save most of the specific details of the game, as mister_manager already wrote the formal VEB recap of what happened. But when Adam Wainwright launched a game-winning double into the PNC Park outfield, everything I believed I knew about baseball evaporated.
Baseball players get hits. Even Bartolo Colon hits home runs these days.
That pitchers get hits, even at a much lower rate than non-pitchers, is one of my favorite things about baseball. I am not even saying this as a fierce proponent nor opponent of the designated hitter: I am just transfixed with the notion that a person who is clearly only batting because he has a specific skill set (pitching) could, against the stiffest competition in the entire world, succeed in a seemingly unrelated realm. And yet pitchers are able to do it. It makes you feel that anything is possible.
But while Bartolo Colon's home run became a popular sensation largely because of how unnatural it seemed (Colon has a very unnatural swing and he is noticeably less athletic than most, if not all, of his MLB cohorts), Adam Wainwright's go-ahead double last night was truly impressive because it seemed so right. And it shouldn't. Although Adam Wainwright sports generally decent batting numbers for a pitcher, his hitting is not the reason he is there. And yet, he succeeded. And evidence of his 2016 suggests that this isn't that crazy.
In 27 plate appearances, Adam Wainwright has a .261 batting average, a .652 slugging percentage, a 14.8% strikeout rate, and a 137 wRC+. He has a higher batting average than Bryce Harper. He has a higher slugging percentage than every qualified hitter in baseball not named David Ortiz. He is striking out at a rate which is 42% the strikeout rate of Giancarlo Stanton. And by wRC+, a comprehensive statistic used to measure a player's offensive value, Adam Wainwright has a higher wRC+ nearly halfway through June than Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant.
And yes, this is a small sample. Which is another way to say that Wainwright's batting statistics would probably be more impressive if he batted more. His current pace would have him, over 600 plate appearances, hitting 22 home runs and 89 doubles. Luckily, for the rest of the National League, it seems that Wainwright will be limited to the starting rotation for the remainder of 2016.
Here is what happened at VEB, aside from the beautiful Adam Wainwright.
A bunch of draft stories
- I looked at Cardinals draft picks of the last twenty years and determined what realistic pick the Cardinals should have taken instead. Hey, the Cardinals won the World Series twice in that period, so don't get too upset.
- The red baron is the resident VEB prospect wizard and this week has been RB's time to shine. He launched the Day Two Draft Day open thread in the morning and then assessed several more Cardinals draft picks: Zac Gallen, Jeremy Martinez, and Walker Robbins.
- Lil scooter succinctly summed up my opinions on the Cardinals' selection of Delvin Perez in yesterday's Hunt and Peck. I mean, somebody was going to draft him, so if the Cardinals believe that Delvin Perez can help the team and have enough confidence in him to not be a liability with positive drug tests going forward that they will desire to take him in the first round, I'm in.
- Ebo wrote about future Cardinals in the prospect report, such as young up-and-comers you've probably never heard of, like...um, Kolten Wong? Anyway, Wong did a good job, but so did some other players, so read about it here.
- Craig Edwards wrote about how the Cardinals should destroy the *insert team name here*, which they did. As though there were ever any doubt. Also, Craig did a live video Q&A on Friday.