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Cardinals news and notes: Wong, Molina, and the Rangers

The Cardinals are playing against the Texas Rangers this weekend. It is not the first time the two franchises have met.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

When the term first came into existence, "nostalgia" referred to a disease. To long for the past to extreme degree was a problem: to not live in the present makes one less productive and occasionally dangerous, when one ignores progress along the way.

And you should not live in 2011 full-time. The Cardinals have won over 400 games since the conclusion of the 2011 World Series. The 2011 season, coming off of missing the playoffs in 2010, were the beginning of something good and not a conclusion.

With that said, 2011 was fun. Apropos of nothing other than the presence of the Texas Rangers at Busch Stadium this weekend, here are some fun facts about the 2011 World Series, courtesy of the Baseball Reference Play Index. I've repeated a few of these facts before, to which I ask who could possibly get tired of reading about the 2011 World Series.

  • In Game 3, Albert Pujols became the 3rd player to hit three home runs in a World Series game. Yankees Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson were the first two, while Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval accomplished the feat the next season. No Cardinal has hit three home runs in a game since, and no Cardinal other than Albert Pujols has hit three since Mark McGwire, in 2000.
  • Including earlier playoff rounds, eight players have hit three home runs in a postseason game (Babe Ruth did it twice) and two former Cardinals did it: Pujols, and Angels second baseman Adam Kennedy.
  • In Game 6 of the World Series, David Freese had a Win Probability Added of 0.964, the highest in MLB postseason history, besting Kirk Gibson's 0.870 in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series (you know, that one). Gibson brought the odds of the Dodgers winning from 13% to 100%, an 87% jump, while Freese's 9th and 11th inning at-bats brought the odds of a Cardinals victory up a combined 91% (8% to 62% in the ninth; 63% to 100% in the eleventh).
  • Only four games in the history of the Cardinals surpass Freese by WPA: Ken Boyer (1.140) in the second game of a doubleheader against the Cubs on September 14, 1961; Joe Medwick (1.127) against the Boston Bees on June 19, 1937; Joe Garagiola (1.054) on May 3, 1950 against the Brooklyn Dodgers; and Albert Pujols (0.987) against the Reds on April 16, 2006. Tying Freese in WPA was Gerald Perry against the Phillies on April 21, 1991.
  • Game 6 included the three highest WPA games of the 2011 postseason: Freese, of course, but also Lance Berkman (#5 all-time, with a 0.828 WPA) and Josh Hamilton (#58 all-time, 0.547). Hamilton had the fourth-highest WPA in postseason history in a losing effort, with #1 being Larry Walker of the Cardinals in Game 1 of the 2004 World Series.

Anyway, in 2016, some stuff happened on Viva El Birdos. Here's what all that stuff was.


Yadier Molina

I wrote about Yadier Molina, and whether or not he is playing too much. Joe DiMaggio famously said that he was motivated to play his best by knowing that there would be somebody who had never seen him play before in the stands, and I'm sure that some kid at Busch Stadium will be disappointed to see Eric Fryer in the starting lineup for his or her first big-league game, but from a long term perspective, Molina's omnipresence could be doing harm to the Cardinals.

Kolten Wong and Jeremy Hazelbaker

As first reported by Lil Scooter (well, not really, but first reported on VEB by Lil Scooter), Kolten Wong was promoted from Memphis while Jeremy Hazelbaker was demoted. Hazelbaker, like disco, was a really big deal for a brief period of time what seems like 40 years ago but fell out of favor with even former fans. Hazelbaker flashed brilliance, however, and while he probably isn't that level of superstar, that he was so productive once shows that he could be again.

Tsunami waves

Lil Scooter wrote about the latest event from Carlos Martinez's Tsunami Waves foundation: a bowling fundraiser in St. Louis. As a fellow attendee of the event, I feel I have the right to proclaim this a solid sample of the longer event summary which is to come.

Prospects

Ebo handled the prospect report, which covered several players who could be the next Kolten Wong, being promoted from Memphis to St. Louis, including Tommy Pham and Brayan Pena.

The Rangers

Craig Edwards wrote about how the Cardinals should destroy the Rangers, and mister_manager summed up the 1-0 Rangers victory that is in every possible way the exact opposite of the Cardinals destroying the Rangers.

Two more Cardinals/Rangers games, the final round of a golf major, the continuation of two major continental soccer tournaments, and an NBA Finals Game 7 are coming over the next two days. The sports...the sports should be good.