What Are The 2019 Cardinals?

Some people and/or fans have pointed out that the Cardinals of 2019 are a confusing team that are difficult to pin down. I tend to agree. The manager is still pretty new, has not been to the postseason obviously. The team's offense doesn't get on base a lot, and neither is it at the top of the leaderboards in home runs. The Cubs, Brewers, Nationals, and Mets all got on base more and hit more of the long ball. The one very meaningful thing the players the Cardinals have been fielding usually are elite at is defense... but so are the Brewers. Other than that, this team steals a lot of bases!

When looking at the 2nd half of play, the Cardinals get a boost and become a better team by fWAR than when looking at the season as a whole. Going by the last half of the season, the StL Cardinals are a top 2 team by defense and stealing bases. The Cardinals and Nationals both have exceptionally speedy, defense oriented teams on the field. But the Nationals are the better team overall position player wise, since they have a tad more power and a lot more on base discipline. One thing about the Cardinals is that they haven't been too lucky with balls batted into play... and they have a high line drive percentage so maybe the offense could get luckier going forward. It seems like they are hitting the ball right into gloves a bit more than usual.

As for Cardinals pitching, the key has been especially in the 2nd half as well. The team has a character as a whole: incredibly stingy with giving up home runs. In fact, I think they would rather walk a guy than give up a home run. Their defense also being incredibly miserly and compound that with the fact that the pitching staff is good at inducing ground balls, other teams must be a bit frustrated with the elite levels of babip against on display from Cardinals pitching.

It is almost like the Cardinals have magnets installed in the field and baseballs because that ball isn't wanting to go away from the ground which made it. Cardinals starting pitchers are nearly always great escape artists, getting out of situations 80% of the time. Somehow the relievers are even better at keeping the ball in the ballpark while retaining much of the same traits as the starters, just not as extreme at inducing groundballs but with a little more strike out capabilities. They are also not as ridiculous of FIP beaters but hey, whatever works. That said, only the Yankees, Twins, and Rays appear to have as stellar or better of a bullpen as the Cards in the 2nd half.

It is fathomable also that the Cardinals might have had the best starting pitching of National League playoff contending teams in the 2nd half of play except for their near doppelganger the Nationals. The two teams are eerily similar in a lot of ways. The Cardinals would have a bit tougher time vs the Braves but I am kind of glad the team might not have to play the Nationals in the first round just because they might nullify each other somehow, I don't know.

What is for certain though is that this team isn't easily defined and won't be as the season continues to mutate into whatever the postseason is. In a way the Cardinals are about to start a 7 game series to end the season and how they fare in those last 7 games might be a precursor to another 7 games in the postseason, if they make it that far, past the odd 5 games they are likely to play to begin October. But at the very least, they will get 1 chance in the postseason, and that's the best chance any team will get, is that one game, that one win at a time that got them there.