The Cardinals offense has been inexplicably bad. Well, inexplicable is perhaps the wrong word. This is baseball after all. Teams can go through ruts and hot streaks and there’s not usually an explanation for it. But it’s been confusing. Weird. Unpleasant. The Cards pitching being bad? Not that weird! They don’t have a very good staff. Easy enough explanation.
The offense though? They are good. Make no mistake. The Cardinals have a good offensive team. They haven’t been good. But they are good. For example, if Mike Trout were hitting to the tune of an 80 wRC+ right now, we could still call him a great hitter. Because career trumps two months. That was a stupid hypothetical, Mike Trout has literally never been an 80 wRC+ hitter for two weeks. Probably anyway. I mean you probably took that sentence at face value when you read that and didn’t assume I was making it up.
That’s what makes this so frustrating though. There’s... really nothing the Cardinals should do to change the offense. I mean yes, the coaches should work tirelessly to improve their swings and the players should try to get out of their slumps, but most of these guys have been here a few years, have experienced these downturns, and will get out of it. That it’s mostly a teamwide slump happening at the same time is unfortunate.
It’s weird, because the pitching struggles, we know the Cardinals could do something about it, but don’t. That’s frustrating too, but in a different way. The pitching struggles, yep that makes sense, no question marks here. We, or at least I, like to have a reason for something happening and sometimes baseball being baseball is not a satisfying answer. The offense is currently bad within whatever timeframe that supports that point because baseball is baseball sometimes, not because the offense is bad. Doesn’t that suck?
I mean yes, the Cardinals are getting thrown more off-speed pitches - just getting pounded with them - and not seemingly adjusting, but there’s no way it’s going to continue being that easy to get out the Cardinals. You’re telling me all you had to do to get Paul Goldschmidt out is to throw off-speed a bunch and nobody did that? Yeah I don’t believe that and you could extend that to Matt Carpenter or whoever else. Baseball is a game of adjustments and good hitters will eventually adjust.
Besides, what could you possibly do anyway? Goldschmidt’s as good at bet as any potential trade candidate anyway, not that trading for a 1B is realistic in the first place. Kolten Wong is here for his defense and any offense is secondary. Paul DeJong has been more than fine. Carpenter has very quietly been on the upswing for a while (Not counting last night, with a single and 2 BBs, he has a 123 wRC+ in his past 99 PAs). Ozuna? Fine. Bader? Also here for his defense. Fowler? I mean yeah this is probably the spot. He has been a 2.5 WAR/600 PAs player so far, so he hasn’t really been the problem though.
Honestly, just going through the list of offensive players and one player stands out above the rest: Paul Goldschmidt. You’ve got roughly three players who are doing basically what you’d expect (Ozuna, Fowler, DeJong), a couple defensive players struggling who you don’t necessarily expect to be good on offense anyway (Molina - although he’s been real bad this year, Wong, and Bader), a player slowly but surely getting back to his old self in Carp, and Goldschmidt.
He’s gotta get it going. He homered yesterday! That’s a good start. Can you imagine this offense with a Goldschmidt with a 130 wRC+ or so? It’s shocking how much of a difference it makes. Goldschmidt’s ZiPS rest of season projection is... 119. Which please god let him finish the better than that. I’m hanging on to his hot finish to the year last year. He’s been in this spot before and recovered. We need you Paul. Give us at least a couple years of that classic Goldschmidt.
I’m not trying to make him the scapegoat, but he has been disappointing. Most of the offense has to be fair, but he stands out in a crowded field. Goldschmidt gets going, the offense gets going. Because at his best, he can make an offense good by himself, or seemingly so. I just want to experience a fun offense and not have no excuse for why it isn’t. Is that too much to ask?