Pythagoras and the mid-June Cardinals

by on June 27, 2011 · 0 comments

Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday

Image by shgmom56 via Flickr

Bad news, Cards fans.  Maybe you already know this, maybe you don’t.

Albert Pujols being on the disabled list is not the only cause of the Cards’ recent slide.  The lineup looks really strange with him out and Matt Holliday hitting third, followed by whatever combination Tony La Russa scabs together that day.  But given the information below, it seems silly to lay the recent Cards swoon entirely at the feet of Pujols and his fractured wrist.

Would it help if Pujols was still in the lineup?  Sure, how could it hurt?  Would he be single-handedly winning games for the Cardinals?  That’s more debatable.

To wit, a table of fifteen-game samples this season, sorted by runs scored (courtesy Baseball-Reference.com):

Tm  Sched  StartDate    EndDate      Games       W-L      WP     RS     RA
---+-----+-----------+-----------+-----------+---------+------+------+------+
STL sched  2011-04-12  2011-04-28    11-25      10-5      .667    101     65
STL sched  2011-04-10  2011-04-26     9-23      10-5      .667     98     56
STL sched  2011-04-13  2011-04-29    12-26      11-4      .733     98     55
STL sched  2011-04-11  2011-04-27    10-24      10-5      .667     98     60
STL sched  2011-04-08  2011-04-23     7-21       9-6      .600     96     58
STL sched  2011-04-09  2011-04-24     8-22      10-5      .667     95     53
STL sched  2011-04-06  2011-04-22     6-20       9-6      .600     94     56
STL sched  2011-04-05  2011-04-21     5-19       9-6      .600     93     56
STL sched  2011-04-04  2011-04-20     4-18       8-7      .533     91     60
STL sched  2011-04-03  2011-04-20     3-17       8-7      .533     88     57
STL sched  2011-03-31  2011-04-16     1-15       8-7      .533     87     63
STL sched  2011-04-14  2011-04-30    13-27      11-4      .733     86     52
STL sched  2011-04-02  2011-04-17     2-16       8-7      .533     85     60
STL sched  2011-04-27  2011-05-12    24-38      10-5      .667     83     66
STL sched  2011-04-28  2011-05-13    25-39       9-6      .600     82     67
STL sched  2011-04-15  2011-05-01    14-28      10-5      .667     82     53
STL sched  2011-04-21  2011-05-06    19-33      10-5      .667     81     58
STL sched  2011-04-20  2011-05-05    18-32      10-5      .667     80     61
STL sched  2011-04-20  2011-05-04    17-31       9-6      .600     80     66
STL sched  2011-04-26  2011-05-11    23-37       9-6      .600     79     71
STL sched  2011-04-24  2011-05-10    22-36      10-5      .667     78     60
STL sched  2011-04-22  2011-05-07    20-34       9-6      .600     76     62
STL sched  2011-04-16  2011-05-02    15-29       9-6      .600     76     57
STL sched  2011-04-30  2011-05-15    27-41       7-8      .467     76     73
STL sched  2011-05-01  2011-05-16    28-42       7-8      .467     76     72
STL sched  2011-04-23  2011-05-08    21-35       9-6      .600     75     61
STL sched  2011-04-17  2011-05-03    16-30       9-6      .600     74     60
STL sched  2011-05-22  2011-06-07    48-62      10-5      .667     74     75
STL sched  2011-04-29  2011-05-14    26-40       8-7      .533     74     67
STL sched  2011-05-02  2011-05-17    29-43       8-7      .533     73     67
---+-----+-----------+-----------+-----------+---------+------+------+------+
Tm  Sched  StartDate    EndDate      Games       W-L      WP     RS     RA
---+-----+-----------+-----------+-----------+---------+------+------+------+
STL sched  2011-05-03  2011-05-18    30-44       9-6      .600     73     62
STL sched  2011-05-24  2011-06-09    50-64       9-6      .600     72     72
STL sched  2011-05-27  2011-06-11    52-66       8-7      .533     71     80
STL sched  2011-05-04  2011-05-19    31-45       9-6      .600     70     59
STL sched  2011-05-21  2011-06-05    47-61      10-5      .667     70     71
STL sched  2011-05-25  2011-06-10    51-65       8-7      .533     69     78
STL sched  2011-05-12  2011-05-27    38-52      10-5      .667     67     48
STL sched  2011-05-20  2011-06-04    46-60       9-6      .600     67     72
STL sched  2011-05-29  2011-06-14    54-68       7-8      .467     66     74
STL sched  2011-05-08  2011-05-23    35-49      10-5      .667     66     56
STL sched  2011-05-19  2011-06-03    45-59       9-6      .600     66     70
STL sched  2011-05-10  2011-05-24    36-50      10-5      .667     66     57
STL sched  2011-05-23  2011-06-08    49-63       9-6      .600     66     71
STL sched  2011-05-18  2011-06-02    44-58       9-6      .600     65     70
STL sched  2011-05-28  2011-06-12    53-67       7-8      .467     64     81
STL sched  2011-05-05  2011-05-20    32-46       9-6      .600     63     54
STL sched  2011-06-01  2011-06-17    57-71       5-10     .333     63     83
STL sched  2011-05-31  2011-06-16    56-70       6-9      .400     63     81
STL sched  2011-05-07  2011-05-22    34-48       9-6      .600     63     59
STL sched  2011-06-02  2011-06-18    58-72       6-9      .400     63     80
STL sched  2011-05-30  2011-06-15    55-69       6-9      .400     62     81
STL sched  2011-05-13  2011-05-28    39-53       9-6      .600     62     62
STL sched  2011-05-15  2011-05-30    41-55      10-5      .667     61     59
STL sched  2011-05-11  2011-05-25    37-51       9-6      .600     61     56
STL sched  2011-06-07  2011-06-23    62-76       5-10     .333     61     81
STL sched  2011-06-03  2011-06-19    59-73       7-8      .467     61     72
STL sched  2011-05-14  2011-05-29    40-54      10-5      .667     61     59
STL sched  2011-06-09  2011-06-25    64-78       4-11     .267     60     84
STL sched  2011-05-06  2011-05-21    33-47       9-6      .600     60     51
STL sched  2011-05-17  2011-06-01    43-57      10-5      .667     60     59
---+-----+-----------+-----------+-----------+---------+------+------+------+
Tm  Sched  StartDate    EndDate      Games       W-L      WP     RS     RA
---+-----+-----------+-----------+-----------+---------+------+------+------+
STL sched  2011-05-16  2011-05-31    42-56      11-4      .733     58     53
STL sched  2011-06-08  2011-06-24    63-77       4-11     .267     58     82
STL sched  2011-06-04  2011-06-21    60-74       6-9      .400     57     81
STL sched  2011-06-05  2011-06-22    61-75       5-10     .333     52     81
STL sched  2011-06-10  2011-06-26    65-79       3-12     .200     51     87
---+-----+-----------+-----------+-----------+---------+------+------+------+

Yep, that’s the most recent fifteen games there at the bottom.  Fifty-one runs scored in fifteen games.  Keep in mind, that includes the one twelve-run outburst against the Phillies.  If we remove that twelve-run game and one of the shutouts they suffered, that leaves a thirteen game sample over which the Cardinals have averaged exactly three runs per game.  Yuck.

As important, however, is the runs allowed column (scroll to the right just a bit).  The Cardinals have both scored the fewest runs (51) AND allowed the most runs (87) in the most recent fifteen games.

So they’re not scoring, and they’re not preventing.  Not only that, but they’ve actually underperformed their Pythagorean record for that period, which projected them with four wins (3.84).  Double yuck.

The offense is not scoring runs.  The defense is not always preventing runs on routine plays.  The pitching has regressed and moreover, the bullpen is unreliable (to be kind).

Notice something else in that table above…  The top section is comprised entirely of April and May samples, the middle section mostly of April and May samples with a few June batches sprinkled in, and the majority of June in the last handful of fifteen-game samples.

Again, the basic premise of this post probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you – but the hard numbers were a hammer for me.  The Cardinals’ last fifteen games have been their worst of the season, all-encompassing.

Injuries have mounted, there is some regression involved, other teams have heated up – whatever your choice of explanation for this, the conclusion is the same.  Something’s gotta give or this team is going to be in a real bad place by the end of July.

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Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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