I was in attendance for Thursday night’s game — my first game of the season — and it was so much fun! Nothin’ quite like watching your favorite baseball team just mash the heck out of the ball. The Tampa Bay Rays fans must really be having a blast — that team has hit 87 homers so far and has a team wRC+ of 139.
The Cardinals have been playing well so I don’t want to be too greedy, but there are still a few things that I could do without. These are silly things that could — and have — cost them games that the team really needs to win. For instance: the errors the lead to a bunch of runs being scored. The Cardinals have 19 errors on the season and according to my math allowed 16 unearned runs. I did some quick math and that comes out to 0.8421 unearned runs per error, which compared to the rest of the teams in baseball is seventh highest. (This isn’t exactly how I wanted to represent this graphically, but I gave up trying to figure it out how to do the scatter plot I wanted to do before I completely lose it — you get the point, right? The x-axis is just the teams ranked, the y-axis is their unearned runs per error. If I figure out how to make the chart I wanted to make, I’ll swap this out.)
This is not even considering those runs scored that are technically earned, but probably don’t score if there was no error committed. For instance in Thursday night’s game Génesis Cabrera got tagged for three earned runs, but without the error from Paul Goldschmidt, the inning ends without Cabrera even entering the game at that point. Errors tend to come back to haunt teams and if you are a team that feels particularly snakebit, the best thing to do is to avoid making them.
Sometimes errors happen and that is part of the game — no player is going to be completely perfect and we cannot expect them to be. There are ways the Cardinals sometimes set themselves up for mistakes though. They don’t always even result in an error, but they don’t look very pretty. Things like this:
This particular defensive miscue really got me thinking about Jordan Walker. You might have noticed that playing right field is noted infielder Tommy Edman. Edman is a fine fielder and holds his own in the outfield, especially for a player that primarily has been an infielder. For me... I am just not really sure why he is playing there. If the idea is to get Nolan Gorman, Brendan Donovan, Paul DeJong, and Edman all in the lineup, it seems like that can be done by rotating them and using the DH. If it is because the team isn’t happy with their other right field choices, they have a right field option playing in AAA right now.
Perhaps the feeling is Jordan Walker is not ready for another callup. Looking at his stats, he hasn’t exactly been hitting the cover off the ball. He’s slashing .183/.298/.268 in 18 games. His line drive rate has improved and he has been getting a bit unlucky on balls in play, but I would still have liked to have seen better. And of course the defense is the big question mark with Walker still learning a new position out in right field.
I don’t really have much of a point to all of this — this is mostly just an open thread for everyone to discuss baseball in — but it has just been a season of puzzling decisions so far for the Cardinals from publicly calling out Tyler O’Neill about hustling, to publicly calling out Willson Contreras about his game-calling, to giving Alec Burleson so many starts while sitting Dylan Carlson, and then with Carlson injured starting Tommy Edman in right field, calling Walker up to start the season when all the outfielders were healthy, but with two out with injuries leaving him in AAA. It has just been a weird season so far and I don’t know what to make of some of these decisions. It just feels like the Cardinals are making things more difficult for themselves by playing players of position and not rotating players starts to give them some days off. Though he has played DH a few times this season, Paul Goldschmidt has played in 44 of the 45 games so far and 16 days in a row without a day off — could that have something to do with the error from Thursday? These are just some things I have been thinking about, is all.
But hey, at least they have been winning!
Here are some other Cardinals content you all might enjoy:
Also, here’s a neat Jomboy breakdown of Willson Contreras gaming the pitch clock:
Adam Wainwright’s son being adorable:
Todos amamos a Caleb. pic.twitter.com/deZ2qCNpYt— Cardenales (@cardenales) May 19, 2023
Willson Contreras on his curtain call:
"That's why I'm here. I picked this team because I believe in this team."— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) May 19, 2023
After a big 2-HR night, Willson Contreras caught up with @jonmorosi to discuss the big win and getting his first @Cardinals curtain call.#STLCards | #MLBNShowcase pic.twitter.com/xgSQp2me5I
Opinion Blown calls like the one Don Denkinger made in 1985 make sports better | By Will Leitch | The Washington Post