Anyone that watched the Cardinals on a regular basis knew the offense had issues; there were many shut outs and close, low scoring games throughout the season. So, how did the offense stack up against everyone else? I’ve taken various offensive stats of the team and compared them to the MLB average and the National League average.
The Cardinals got hits (1386), but they ranked 14th in the MLB (MLB average: 1404) and 6th in the NL (NL average: 1396). Even being 6th in the NL, they were 10 hits below the average; they were 18 back of the MLB average. Based off the ranking, a person would assume that they’d be closer to the averages, if not exceeding them.
Home runs (137) are worse for the team. They ranked 25th in the MLB (MLB average: 164) and 11th in the NL (NL average: 152). 2015 was better for the Cardinals power department, but they were still quite a ways behind the averages. Part of this was due to injuries (Randal Grichuk was 2nd on the team with 17 and he missed quite a bit of time; many expected more from Matt Adams, Matt Holliday, and Yadier Molina who all battled injuries as well).
Matt Carpenter is an interesting case here too; he blew past his career power numbers this season, but sacrificed average to do so (the inverted Allen Craig maybe).
Runs were another issue compared to the league, both scoring them (647) and driving them in (619). The team ranked 24th in the MLB in both categories (MLB R average 688; MLB RBI average 655) and 11th in the NL in both (NL R average 666; NL RBI average 634). They were very lucky the pitching was as good as it was, since they had a positive 122 run differential. 19 runs below the NL average and 41 behind the average of all teams is pretty bad. RBIs were just as ugly.
The offense was below average, and fans that watched day in and day out knew this. Seeing the numbers though really just drives this home.
The rate stats look a little better until you look at Isolated Power; but we’ll end with that. First we’ll look at walk percentage (8.20%), where the team was 4th in the NL (NL average 7.63%) and 7th in all of baseball (MLB average 7.65%). The averages for both the league and NL were close, and the Cardinals were .55% better than the league. This is a bright spot courtesy of Holliday (14.1%) and Carpenter (12.2%).
Strikeout percentage wasn’t as favorable (20.60%); the team ranked 5th in the NL (NL average 20.87%) and 15th in baseball (MLB average 20.87%). The Cardinals were right between the two averages; they were slightly below the league average (technically above it since they struck out more often than the league as a whole). They were more favorable compared to other NL teams though, which is reflected in their ranking.
The last rate is Isolated Power (0.142), which the Cardinals ranked 10th in the NL (NL average 0.144) and 24th in baseball (MLB average 0.150). For those unfamiliar with ISO, it’s slugging minus batting average, which shows the batters raw power by calculating how many extra base hits he gets per at bat.
There wasn’t much of a difference in ISO for the NL; while the Cardinals were only better than 5 teams in the league, they were only .002 behind the league average. It was much different for the league though, as they were in the bottom third and .008 behind the average.
Like I said, the rates were a mixed bag; the Cardinals were good at being patient and taking a free bag, need to work a little on striking out and have to add some power.
Slash stats were another mixed bag. We’ll go in typical reporting order, leading off with batting average (0.253); the team ranked 6th in the NL (NL average 0.253) and 12 in baseball (MLB average 0.254). While the rankings were a little better than middle of the road, they just about matched up with the averages. I was a little surprised at this since the team only had Stephen Piscotty as a semi-regular hitting over .300; Jason Heyward was the next closest at .293.
On base percentage (0.321) was more of the same for rankings, but not compared to the averages. The team matched their batting average ranking in the NL (6th; NL average 0.316), while they dropped to 13th in all of baseball (MLB average 0.317). Due to the higher BB%, the Cardinals were above average with OBP by a small margin compared to both the NL and MLB as a whole.
While the OBP had ties to BB%, their slugging percentage tied into their ISO. For slugging (0.394), the Cardinals ranked 9th in the NL (NL average 0.397) and 23 in MLB (MLB average 0.405). While the team was only .003 behind the NL average, they were .011 behind all of baseball. We know the team didn’t hit many homers and their ISO was below average; this just confirms it all.
After seeing OBP and SLG, I assumed they’d probably be right in the middle for On Base plus Slugging (0.715); they ranked 8th in the NL (NL average 0.713) and 19th in baseball (MLB average 0.721). Due to their better OBP, they were above average in the NL; it wasn’t enough though to push them to an above average team in the MLB, being .006 back of the average.
Base Path Stats
One thing the Cardinals wanted to do more in 2015 was run; while they did see an increase in stolen bases, they were still a sub-par team at it. They ranked 21st in stolen bases (Cardinals: 69; NL average: 88; MLB average: 84), 18th in caught stealing (Cardinals: 38; NL average: 35; MLB average: 35), and 22nd in stolen base attempts (Cardinals: 107; NL average: 123; MLB average: 119). The team was 15 stolen bases below the MLB average and 19 below the NL average. Then they were caught stealing 3 more times than both averages.
Heyward was a good example of what the Cardinals should be doing; he went 23 for 26 on the season. On the flip side was Kolten Wong (15 for 23) and Peter Bourjos (5 for 13); Wong is still young and developing his base path instincts, but Bourjos has amazing speed and has been around a little bit longer.
Were These Addressed?
The Cardinals really didn’t address these issues; Heyward left for the Cubs and they didn’t replace him. They are banking on full seasons from multiple players though. Grichuk and Piscotty are 2 young pieces that they hope will be around all season; Grichuk needs to be healthy and a little more patient, while Piscotty needs to avoid a sophomore slump. A full season of a healthy Holliday will help most of the numbers; Holliday’s power has pretty much disappeared, so expecting 20+ homers from him might be a stretch. The team is also hoping a full season of the first base tandem of Adams and Brandon Moss will help the power department; while Moss might be able to help there, the questions around Adams are still lingering from the last few seasons.
Eugene is also a writer/podcaster for Nyrdcast, where he talks pop culture, and writer for the Cards Conclave, where he talk more Cardinals; you can also find him on Twitter or email him here.