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The Cardinals are having their worst May ever - A Hunt and Peck

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Literally.

MLB: Game Two-Kansas City Cardinals at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals are having a rough May. The team is currently 6-14, good for a .300 winning percentage. The Birdos went from being 19-10 with a three game lead in the NL Central on May 1 to at present 25-24 and fell to fourth in the Central, 4.5 games back of the leader. Yeah, it has been as bad as it has felt.

But has it been the worst May in franchise history? With a lot of help from Craig Edwards (former VEB Overlord and current writer at Fangraphs) and Baseball Reference’s Play Index*, we can find out! Here are the worst Mays in Cardinals history.

T-5th: 1925 (9-17, .346)

This team, managed by future Hall of Famers Branch Rickey and Rogers Hornsby, got off to a rough start to the season and never really righted the track. Hornsby put up 10.2 bWAR, but it was not enough to propel the team. The 1925 Cardinals finished the year in fourth place in the National League at 77-76.

T-5th: 1986 (9-17, .346)

If you thought this list would mostly be of teams from long ago, you are mistaken. The 1986 team heated up as the season went on, but it was not enough to overcome their lousy start. The team ended the season in third in the NL East with a 79-82 record. Ozzie Smith led the team with 5.6 bWAR.

3rd: 1978 (9-20, .310)

What a !@#ing terrible season this was. The 1978 squad only had one month with a winning record (August, 18-11). This season saw three managers take the helm. Vern Rapp was fired following the team’s seven-game losing streak late in April. He was succeeded by Jack Krol for two games before Ken Boyer was hired to fill the position permanently. The General Manager Bing Devine also lost his job at the end of the season. The team finished fifth in the NL East at 69 wins (nice) and 93 losses. Jon Denny led the team in bWAR with 5.6.

2nd: 1980 (8-18, .308)

I was hoping one of these seasons would add a glimmer of hope, but nope, this year was not great either. This season saw three managerial changes (four different managers). This team’s horrible May got Ken Boyer canned in historic fashion: in between games of a doubleheader. Jack Krol stepped in to manage the second game. Krol has managed three MLB games in his career and all of them were after the Cardinals fired their manager mid-season. Whitey Herzog took over as manager for 73 games until he was hired as the new General Manager after John Claiborne was fired. None other than Red Schoendienst was named the manager for the remaining 37 games. This team finished 74-88, good for fourth in the NL East. They were led in bWAR by Keith Hernandez with 6.7.

1st (for now): 2019 (6-14, .300)

The Cardinals have a chance at history, though I do not think we would like them to accomplish it. The team has seven games left in May. They are guaranteed to finish the month under .500, but they can avoid having the Worst May Ever by finishing the month with a record at 9-18 or better. Over these next seven games they would need to go at least 3-4 to avoid this place in the history books. (If my math is correct.)

So that was a depressing trip down memory lane. The thing about these other teams is that they went on to have terrible seasons, but a lot of the Cardinals best teams have had a run of bad games — and even bad months. They need to get back on track, though, and preferably soon!

*I was literally going through each season on B-Ref one-by-one and checking the May records to find the worst ones because I could not figure out how to Play Index it. Craig saved me!

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