All posts by Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.

Where to get in-depth Cardinals prospect news fast


Some people have questioned why they need to come to The Cardinal Nation at Scout.com and check this site, The Cardinal Nation blog, when they think they can get the same information elsewhere.

Here is a good example looking at how four main sources rolled out the news this week of the St. Louis Cardinals prospects selected to play in the Arizona Fall League.

Note the times and dates of the articles as well as the number of words devoted to Cardinals prospects. Articles are listed in time sequence of posting.

Tuesday, August 25


MiLB.com
: 1:00 p.m. (CDT)

Strasburg, top picks highlight AFL

0 words (general AFL article did not mention any Cardinals, but rosters were posted elsewhere on site)


The Cardinal Nation
: 1:28 p.m. (with a 2:30 p.m. update with individual capsules on all eight players)

Jones Leads Eight Cards to Arizona Fall League

1330 words


Future Redbirds blog
: 1:48 p.m.

Arizona Fall League 2009

87 words


Wednesday, August 26


Post-Dispatch
: 10:16 a.m.

DG’s 10@10: The Cardinals’ Three-Headed Monster

228 words (item number six in a multi-subject blog post)


The Cardinal Nation blog
: 2:28 p.m.

Cardinals early Arizona Fall League leftovers

908 words


Post-Dispatch
: 3:11 p.m.

Eight Cardinals prospects to go to Arizona

169 words (article)

Cardinals AFL coverage Tuesday words Wednesday words Total words
MiLB.com 0 0 0
The Cardinal Nation/TCN blog 1330 908 2238
Future Redbirds 87 0 87
Post-Dispatch 0 397 397

So, there you have it. If you haven’t already, click on the article titles and check them out. Are they all equal in timing and depth of Cardinals-related content delivered?

Further, which one will be reporting live from Arizona for the seventh year in a row and which ones will be following box scores? And don’t forget our best-of-breed Cardinals Minor League Notebook, provided free seven days a week.

Sure, some articles on Scout.com are subscriber-only (the ones referenced here were not), but sometimes, you get what you pay for.

Think about it.

Cardinals early Arizona Fall League leftovers


I have received a few emails since the first wave of Arizona Fall League players were made public on Tuesday. Because some of the information and opinions may be of interest to others, I decided to share them here.

Just for completeness, eight members of the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system have been invited to participate in the 2009 AFL as members of the Surprise Rafters. They are pitchers Lance Lynn, David Kopp, Adam Reifer and Mike Parisi along with catcher Bryan Anderson, infielder Daniel Descalso and outfielders Daryl Jones and Tyler Henley.


Q: Why do the Cardinals get so many players on the roster? Shouldn’t they only have five?

A: In a normal year, the rosters consisted of six players from each of five organizations plus each got an additional taxi squad player from A ball. This year to cover for the loss of Hawaii League, they each get a second A player. That makes eight per organization.

Q: You mentioned the organization being able to select players from Single A since the Hawaii league closed. However, your link to the team roster only included 25 players. If five teams feed into that roster, shouldn’t each organization only be supplying five players?

A: My article isn’t about the other organizations, but I did point out that some of the other clubs have not yet finalized all their invitees. So the team roster isn’t complete. That is why some organizations have more players listed than others. The rosters will fill out over the upcoming weeks. Players don’t report for another month.

Q: It is not at all intuitive that a team would need a 40-man roster for six weeks of play. What do the extra three players do? Why would they need such a large squad?

A: The reason the number of AFL players per organization was expanded from 5+1 to 6+1 a few years ago is because the organizations would not send top pitchers for fear of overuse. More pitchers mean shorter outings.

Starting pitchers typically don’t usually go more than three or four innings in the AFL. For example, 2008 AFL Player of the Year Tommy Hanson of the Braves made seven starts, but threw only 28 2/3 innings. As an aside, his AFL ERA was 0.63. After I saw him pitch there, I became a believer.

Another reason for larger rosters is that guys get hurt during the AFL season and it is not like the regular season where there is a lower level farm team with ready replacements already in game shape one day away. At least that is the case until/if they get the Hawaii-replacement A-level fall league in place in 2010.

Q: You mentioned that even though the Cardinals’ AFL allocation appears to be complete, you wouldn’t be surprised if one or more of these first eight players don’t actually suit up. Who and why?

Obviously Daryl Jones, Bryan Anderson and Mike Parisi are just a few days into their respective rehabs, so they would need to finish the regular season without any setbacks.

I like the choices of Tyler Henley and Daniel Descalso and I hope Adam Reifer is ready to hitch it up. Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch reports that Henley will be on the Rafters’ taxi squad. That means he can only play on Wednesdays and Saturdays unless an opening is created by the injury or departure of another.

As an aside, I wonder if those angry that Descalso is stuck behind Jarrett Hoffpauir with Memphis are the same ones who were ready to give Hoff the second base job in St. Louis based on an OBP of over .400 between Springfield and Memphis in 2007? He hasn’t been back near that lofty territory since. So far, Descalso has one standout half-season, in Double-A. Let’s see if he can do better in Arizona than Hoff did in 2007 (.236/.358/.255).

David Kopp is another good selection – if he is healthy. That is far from a sure thing. When he was bumped back down to Palm Beach from Springfield, there were whispers that the right-hander’s velocity isn’t back to where it was before his shoulder problems resurfaced. Unless Kopp is right, sending him to Arizona seems questionable.

Lance Lynn has earned an AFL spot based on his fine season with Palm Beach, then Springfield. However, this is just his first year of full-season ball and he has already thrown 130 innings.

Given, the Double-A Cards’ regular season runs through September 7, Lynn would have four more regular turns plus at least one and likely more additional starts in the playoffs. Springfield is already in the post-season based on their first-half title.

Assuming Lynn will continue to average six innings per start, five-plus more outings would add at least 30 more innings to his 22-year-old arm’s running total.

What may be fatigue is already showing. Lynn picked up his 11th win Tuesday, going six innings and allowing just one run on three hits. However, his walk rate has been increasing. Lynn issued four free passes Tuesday and has given out 14 in his last 16 2/3 innings and three starts.

Let’s put those pre-AFL 160 innings into context.

With that total last season, Lynn would have led the entire Cardinals minor league system in innings pitched. Only three pitchers even had as many as 140 – P.J. Walters, Jess Todd and Brandon Dickson.

When Tony La Russa was referenced in a recent Post-Dispatch blurb about the instructional league cancellation saying he was concerned about sending players to fall ball after a long regular season, it seemed out of context for instructs, but it surely could apply here to Lynn.

Jones leads eight Cards to Arizona Fall League


On Tuesday, the tentative rosters for the 18th Arizona Fall League (AFL) were released.

Eight members of the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system have been invited to participate. They include pitchers Lance Lynn, David Kopp, Adam Reifer and Mike Parisi. Catcher Bryan Anderson, infielder Daniel Descalso and outfielders Daryl Jones and Tyler Henley fill out the Cardinals’ tentative group.

For more details, check out my free article at The Cardinal Nation, stlcardinals.scout.com: “Jones Leads Eight Cards to Arizona Fall League”.

TCN blog’s Carp K:BB article featured on KSDK Channel 5


On Sunday, August 23, our recent article about Chris Carpenter’s prolific strikeout to walk ratio pace, “Carpenter’s historic strikeout-to-walk ratio”, provided the basis of a segment of the “This Week in Cardinal Nation” television program. The “Cardinal Nation” show is shown twice every Sunday during the baseball season on KSDK Channel 5 in St. Louis.

We are very proud to have been selected a third time this summer to be highlighted by our good friends at Channel 5, the Sunday home of the St. Louis Cardinals.

See the video below.

Earlier segments:

Pineiro carries the load

Pujols’ multi-home run and RBI games

Cardinals fall ball changes may not be for the better


The St. Louis Cardinals have canceled their yearly fall instructional league camp for 2009 with future plans to be determined, reports the Post-Dispatch. General Manager John Mozeliak offered up this vague explanation:

“I’m not sure the old model works with what’s going on down there.”

The P-D article partially rationalizes the decision by noting that some members of the organization, including Major League manager Tony La Russa, have questioned assigning players to Instructs after they have competed over a full summer season.

Fair enough, but I don’t see that being the purpose of Instructs. The players primarily on La Russa’s radar screen are Triple-A and perhaps Double-A players. These older, more experienced players are not the Instructs’ target group.

The organization drafted and signed 43 brand new players between mid-June and mid-August, some fresh out of high school. These newbies were dropped onto various rosters from Quad Cities to the Gulf Coast League in the midst of those teams’ seasons. Allowing coaches to work with the new players in the less-formal environment of Instructs before their first winters off as professionals offer advantages that may become evident the next season.

It is true that some of the 2009 draftees also played a full high school or college season before signing. Those players viewed to have reached maximum levels of innings pitched, for example, could still benefit from instruction, conditioning and drills.

A number of players already in the system missed considerable portions of the 2009 summer season due to injuries. Instructs offers them the opportunity to get more innings or at-bats, again in a controlled environment.

Finally, Instructs could provide players ready to graduate from the Latin American academies in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela a vehicle to begin to be oriented into play in the USA.

The P-D article notes the Cardinals’ Jupiter partners, the Florida Marlins, have also canceled their instructional league camp. That leaves the New York Mets as the only spring training club within roughly 100 miles and two hours.

I am in the midst of conducting an informal poll of my Scout.com publisher peers covering other MLB organizations to learn if the Instructs cancellations are widespread. Responses from at least seven Arizona clubs and three Florida Gulf Coast teams indicate their fall programs are continuing as planned.  Other than Florida, St. Louis and the Mets, nearby in Port St. Lucie, I am unaware of any cancellations.

For the Cardinals, the geography concern is real.

With the relocation of the Los Angeles Dodgers from Vero Beach to Arizona, the next nearest team to the Cardinals after Florida and New York is Washington. Their home in Viera is 110 miles and 1:55 away from Jupiter. The minor leaguers do not travel that far in the spring, so there is no reason to expect they would in the fall, either.

This is a real problem, one that is much larger than Instructs. With only two teams against whom to compete in the spring (and fall), the Marlins and Mets, one of the three clubs’ minor leaguers have no one to play other than themselves on any given day.

As Major League teams continue to vacate Florida for the greener pastures of Arizona, the problem can only worsen. In contrast with Arizona, where at least a dozen teams are within a reasonable drive from one another in the Phoenix area, Florida clubs remain scattered all over the state. For example, to play the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, the Cardinals would have to take a 208-mile bus ride of four hours and 45 minutes each way. That is totally impractical.

While the Major League Cardinals, Marlins and Mets seem firm in their current locales, they have seen the nearby Dodgers and Orioles depart in the past two years with no prospects of replacements coming in.

In terms of Instructs, despite the valid geographic concerns, the decision to cancel camp feels more financially-motivated than player development-oriented.

Not recognizing 10,000 wins ignores American Association


The Cardinals aren’t the only club to not recognize play during the 1880s while in the American Association, but not doing so muddies the historical water.

Yesterday I posted an item that explains in detail the St. Louis Cardinals’ official position regarding the origin of their franchise. The reason for its timing is that the next victory by the club will be their 10,000th according to a number of historical sources, yet will only be the 9,219th according to the organization.

It all gets down to how strongly you believe the 1882 through 1891 St. Louis Browns of the American Association were linked to the 1892 and beyond St. Louis Browns/Cardinals of the National League and whether AA stats should be included with NL results.

While many baseball historians (including me) take the former position, I am not here to debate the Cardinals and MLB on the way they recognize their lineage. Given the Cards dedicated the entire 1992 season to a celebration of the team’s centennial, that horse has long been out of the barn.

Let’s start with what seems to be the prevailing view of historians. The highly-respected sites Retrosheet.org and Baseball-Reference.com are among the many that go with the 1882 date as the Cardinals’ origin.

Even if one accepts that the Cardinals’ victory over San Diego on Thursday was number 9,999 in their history, St. Louis would become just the fourth major league club to reach the 10,000 plateau – or maybe only the third. More on that in a moment.

MLB wins, history (record through Friday, August 21)

Team 1st year wins losses win pct.
Giants 1883 10,323 8,869 0.538
Cubs 1876 10,143 9,582 0.514
Dodgers 1884 10,033 9,100 0.524
Cardinals 1882 9,999 9,325 0.517
Braves 1876 9,832 9,865 0.499
Reds 1882 9,797 9,534 0.507
Pirates 1882 9,741 9,550 0.505
Yankees 1901 9,549 7,280 0.567

Source: Baseball-Reference.com


Now we will switch lenses and consider how the various teams view themselves.

The top two teams’ positions remain unchanged.

Having been a charter member of the National League in 1876, there is no debate about when the Cubs became the Cubs. Chicago won their 10,000th game on April 23, 2008.

Same with the Giants, as they entered the NL as the New York Gothams in 1883 and have played each season since. They were the first to reach 10,000 victories, in July, 2005 and have the most wins by any count, currently at 10,323.

Let’s look into some of the discrepancies, starting with St. Louis.

By using the 1892 date instead of 1882, the Cardinals’ historical win percentage drops below the Cubbies, moving from .517 down to .509, compared to Chicago currently at .514.

Using the 1892-based win count of 9,218 also lowers the Cardinals from having the fourth-most wins in the history of major league baseball to eighth. With 9,549 wins, the most successful founding member of the American League, the New York Yankees, are among the four teams that move ahead of the Cardinals.

Earlier this season, the Los Angeles Dodgers were in the same exact situation as the Cardinals. They won their 10,000th game if you believe their beginning was in 1884. The Dodgers’ predecessor, the Atlantics/Grays/Bridegrooms, competed against the Browns in the American Association from 1884 through 1889.

Like the Cardinals however, the Dodgers recognize their founding to have been at the time they joined the NL in 1890.

One club actually goes in the other direction timewise as the Cincinnati Reds officially celebrate their beginning with the National League in 1876. They were expelled from the NL in 1880 and helped found the startup AA, which began play in 1882. The Reds rejoined the NL in 1890.

In their team stats, the Reds include their NL results, including 1876-1880, and exclude the AA years from 1882 through 1889. Retrosheet, B-R and the others simply start with 1882.

Further, the Pirates recognize their founding to have been in 1887 when the Pittsburg Alleghenys joined the NL, excluding the five years prior during which the club competed in the AA.

Following is the revised listing based on how the clubs each view their respective histories.

MLB wins, history, club view (record through Friday, August 21)

Team 1st year wins losses win pct.
Giants 1883 10,323 8,869 0.538
Cubs 1876 10,143 9,582 0.514
Braves 1876 9,832 9,865 0.499
Dodgers 1890 9,623 8,746 0.524
Yankees 1901 9,549 7,280 0.567
Pirates 1887 9,505 9,254 0.507
Reds 1876* 9,368 9,354 0.500
Cardinals 1892 9,218 8,893 0.509

* 1881-1889 AA results excluded. Bold year indicates change from first table.

As I said at the start, it all gets down to whether or not you give the American Association respect as having been a major league.

Cardinals assert team history began in 1892


The following is a St. Louis Cardinals media advisory, with my commentary following.

ST. LOUIS, Mo., August 21, 2009 – The city of St. Louis has long had a rich history with the game of baseball and the St. Louis Cardinals National League baseball club is proud to be a part of that. While the St. Louis baseball community thrived in the 1870’s and ‘80’s, the current St. Louis Cardinals team considers their history to have begun with the 1892 charter membership in the newly re-organized 12-team circuit of the National League.

With questions surrounding the Cardinals approaching the 10,000 win mark, the club thought it important to relay our official stance in accordance to the history we recognize. The number of wins the team officially claims is 9,218 (from 1892 through games of Aug. 20, 2009). Not until the current club achieves 10,000 wins as an N.L. franchise from 1892 forward will the Cardinals be celebrating the incredible feat of 10,000 victories. The club has always acknowledged and celebrated our roots, but there is a line of demarcation regarding statistics that is an important boundary the club has chosen to observe.

In 1992, the St. Louis Cardinals celebrated their continuous membership of 100 years in the National League, beginning in 1892. With that decision, the team made some choices about how we recognize our heritage, namely that we regard our history as separate (including records) from all of the various teams that played prior to 1892, while still recognizing their historical importance. Modern baseball rules were not established until 1893 and the modern era of baseball play is recognized as starting in 1900. Therefore, the Cardinals base our official records off rules in play by 1900. With this in mind, the Cardinals honor our heritage as a continuous franchise since 1882 as a team, yet look to our membership in the National League beginning in 1892 as the time we begin tracking official records.

Early baseball history had many teams in St. Louis that formed, dissolved, re-grouped and skipped from one league or association to another. For example, the American Association St. Louis Browns won four consecutive pennants in the AA in 1885, 1886, 1887, and 1888 and claimed a “World Championship” in 1886.

However the World Series as we know it began in 1903 and Major League baseball does not recognize any post-season championships that took place (as early as 1884) as part of their World Series history. For that reason, and based on when the current rules of baseball were established alluded to earlier, the 1886 AA championship is not considered part of the St. Louis Cardinals’ 10 World Championships, nor are any of the wins from the AA Browns included in the current club’s historical win total.

Below is a listing of baseball teams and the leagues they were affiliated with in St. Louis. The teams the Cardinals track throughout their National League membership and include in their records are bolded.

National League

St. Louis Brown Stockings – 1876-77

St. Louis Maroons – 1885-86

St. Louis Browns – 1892-98

St. Louis Perfectos – 1899

St. Louis Cardinals – 1900-Present

Union Association

St. Louis Maroons – 1884

National Association

St. Louis Brown Stockings – 1875

American Association

St. Louis Brown Stockings – 1882

St. Louis Browns – 1883-91

American League

St. Louis Browns – 1903-1953

Hall-of-Famer Charlie Comiskey was the face of the 1880s St. Louis Browns
Hall-of-Famer Charlie Comiskey was the face of the 1880’s St. Louis Browns

Brian Walton’s take: I have followed this particular question off and on ever since it came into my consciousness when the Cardinals chose to celebrate their centennial in 1992. Many baseball historians disagree with the club, instead tracing the team’s direct bloodline in this manner:

  • St. Louis Brown Stockings (1882)
  • St. Louis Browns (1883 – 1898)
  • St. Louis Perfectos (1899)
  • St. Louis Cardinals (1900 – current)

The key to the team’s position seems to be their view that their statistical history begins with the day the American Association folded and the Browns moved to the National League, in 1892. This despite consistent ownership between the pre-1892 AA Browns and the NL Browns of 1892 and later.

This has additional significance as the Browns reached the World Series for four consecutive seasons during the decade in question, with one title (1886), one tie (1885) and two losses (1887 and 1888).

Further, this keeps greats like Hall of Famer Charlie Comiskey, the team’s player-manager during these years, and Parisian Bob Caruthers, who won the ERA title in 1885, out of Cardinals team recognition.

 

 

Rasmus youngest to share Cardinals walk-off record


In the history of the franchise, no St. Louis Cardinals player has ever hit three walk-off home runs in the same season.

A single player had two game-ending long balls in one year two dozen different times over the years. Stan Musial did it in three different seasons, Jim Edmonds did too. So has Albert Pujols.

Mark McGwire managed the feat only once. Now, Colby Rasmus has joined them.

Of the now 25 occurrences, Rasmus is the youngest in terms of calendar years at the age of 22 and tied for youngest in terms of Major League Baseball experience. Bill Virdon was also a rookie when he hit two walk-off home runs for the 1955 Cardinals.

Rasmus’ second walk-off in his first season was also the most recent appearance by the San Diego Padres Friday’s starting pitcher Clayton Richard. Last Sunday in St. Louis, the Cardinals outfielder homered with one out in the bottom of the ninth against Padres closer Heath Bell, ending the game and cementing the series sweep.

There is still time for Rasmus to hit his third in 2009 and re-write the record book in his very first season. Who knows? Maybe he will do it against Richard or Bell on Friday.

Two walk-off home runs in a season, Cardinals history

Age Yrs Game 1 Inn Opp Score BI Final Game 2 Inn Opp Score BI Final
Pepper Martin 29 5 5/22/1933 10 Bos 0-0 3 3-0 7/29/1933 10 ChC 6-6 3 9-6
Joe Medwick 25 6 6/19/1937 9 Bos 4-5 3 7-5 7/27/1937 9 NYG 8-8 1 9-8
Stan Musial 25 5 7/14/1946 12 Bro 1-1 1 2-1 8/22/1946 12 Phi 6-6 1 7-6
Erv Dusak 25 3 7/16/1946 9 Bro 2-4 3 5-4 9/24/1946 10 Cin 1-1 1 2-1
Stan Musial 27 7 8/26/1948 9 NYG 5-5 2 7-5 8/28/1948 12 NYG 4-4 1 5-4
Enos Slaughter 36 12 6/1/1952 9 NYG 7-7 1 8-7 9/6/1952 10 Pit 4-4 3 7-4
Bill Virdon 24 R 4/14/1955 11 Mil 7-7 1 8-7 5/10/1955 10 Phi 3-3 2 5-3
Joe Cunningham 25 3 7/28/1957 11 Pit 8-8 1 9-8 7/30/1957 9 SF 3-3 4 7-3
Ken Boyer 27 4 5/31/1958 12 SF 9-9 1 10-9 6/11/1958 12 Cin 2-2 1 3-2
Stan Musial 38 18 5/7/1959 9 ChC 3-3 1 4-3 8/7/1959 9 Phi 1-1 2 3-1
Ken Boyer 30 7 8/8/1961 9 Cin 5-5 1 6-5 9/14/1961 11 ChC 5-5 1 6-5
Darrell Porter 32 14 5/20/1984 9 Cin 1-2 2 3-2 7/18/1984 11 SF 4-4 4 8-4
Jack Clark 31 13 6/18/1987 10 Pit 6-6 2 8-6 7/10/1987 13 SF 3-3 2 7-5
Ray Lankford 27 5 5/10/1994 11 ChC 6-6 1 7-6 6/4/1994 9 SF 1-1 1 2-1
Tom Pagnozzi 33 10 6/1/1996 10 Hou 4-4 1 5-4 7/21/1996 10 ChC 5-5 1 6-5
Willie McGee 38 16 4/8/1997 9 Mon 1-1 1 2-1 7/2/1997 10 Min 1-1 1 2-1
Mark McGwire 34 14 4/2/1998 12 LA 5-5 3 8-5 7/11/1998 11 Hou 2-3 2 4-3
Jim Edmonds 30 8 9/1/2000 9 NYM 5-5 1 6-5 9/3/2000 9 NYM 3-3 1 4-3
Jim Edmonds 33 11 5/1/2003 10 NYM 5-5 1 6-5 8/21/2003 9 Pit 3-3 3 6-3
Albert Pujols 23 3 7/12/2003 11 Pit 7-7 2 9-7 9/20/2003 13 Hou 2-2 1 3-2
Albert Pujols 24 4 6/18/2004 10 Cin 3-3 1 4-3 8/4/2004 9 Mon 4-4 1 5-4
Jim Edmonds 34 12 4/29/2004 13 Phi 4-4 1 5-4 10/20/2004* 12 Hou 4-4 2 6-4
Albert Pujols 26 6 4/16/2006 9 Cin 6-7 2 8-7 7/13/2006 14 LA 2-2 1 3-2
Ryan Ludwick 29 6 5/17/2008 10 TB 8-8 1 9-8 8/5/2008 11 LA 4-4 2 6-4
Colby Rasmus 22 R 7/1/2009 10 SF 1-1 1 2-1 8/16/2009 9 SD 4-5 2 7-5

* Post-season

Thanks to Tom Orf for the base stats above.

Roger Dean Stadium name to remain


Local automobile dealer Roger Dean Chevrolet has renewed its contract to remain the naming rights partner of the Jupiter, Florida baseball facility for the final eight years of the current lease, through until the end of 2017 Florida State League season.

Roger Dean Stadium houses the Florida Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals for Spring Training as well as the Jupiter Hammerheads and Palm Beach Cardinals, the organizations’ Class A-Advanced affiliates in the Florida State League.

The Florida Marlins have been at Roger Dean Stadium since 2002 when they replaced the Montreal Expos. The Cardinals have been there ever since the stadium’s opening in 1998, when they relocated from their long-time spring home in St. Petersburg.

Pujols’ four-on-base, no-hit oddity


Here in 2009, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols is competing for another National League batting title to go along with his 2003 crown. His .321 average places him fourth in the race, but Pujols has a large gap to close, currently trailing leader Hanley Ramirez of Florida by 37 points.

Despite being on base four times Wednesday night, Pujols actually lost ground to the Marlins’ shortstop.

How could that be, you ask?

In a statistical oddity, although Pujols reached base four times, each was accomplished without the benefit of a hit. He walked three times, none obviously intentional, and was hit by a pitch. In the other plate appearance, his only official at-bat, Pujols struck out in the sixth inning. He finished the night 0-for-1.

I would be remiss if I did not note that Pujols’ final plate appearance was the key to the game. His ninth-inning walk against Jonathan Broxton led to him stealing second (pictured), reaching third on a throwing error and scoring on a Matt Holliday sacrifice fly.*

That gave the Cardinals a 3-2 win and a two-games-to-one series edge over the home Los Angeles Dodgers. The accomplishment against a playoff-caliber opponent added to the excitement.

With the able assistance of Tom Orf, we can put Pujols’ strange evening into some historical context.

Since at least 1954, no Cardinals player has ever reached base five times in a game without having a hit, but Pujols’ feat of four has been accomplished 35 times in the last 55 years.

Oddly, the Cardinals had eight such games in Tony La Russa’s first three years as manager, from 1996 through 1998, including five during the third season of the three. Yet it has taken the 11 years since for the team to log eight more four-on-base-with-no-hit games.

Not surprisingly, Pujols has the last four, including two this season, and the only ones by a Cardinals hitter since the first two weeks of the 2003 season. Pujols is also only one of four to also steal a base. The others were Ozzie Smith in 1984, Joe Cunningham in 1958 and Stan Musial in 1954.

Cardinals on base four times without a hit, 1954-2009

Player Date Opp Sco PA AB R H RBI BB TOB IBB SO HBP SH SF ROE GDP SB CS
Albert Pujols 8/19/2009 @LAD W 3-2 5 1 1 0 0 3 4 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0
Albert Pujols 4/26/2009 CHC L 3-10 5 1 0 0 0 3 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0
Albert Pujols 4/30/2006 WSN W 9-2 5 1 1 0 0 4 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Albert Pujols 5/27/2004 PIT W 6-3 5 0 1 0 1 4 4 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Scott Rolen 4/12/2003 @HOU W 3-0 5 1 1 0 0 4 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fernando Vina 8/10/2002 NYM W 5-4 5 1 1 0 0 2 4 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
J.D. Drew 10/4/2001 @MIL W 10-3 6 2 3 0 0 4 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Eli Marrero 8/31/2001 @LAD W 5-1 4 0 2 0 0 4 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ron Gant 9/7/1998 CHC W 3-2 4 0 0 0 0 3 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fernando Tatis 1998-08-21(1) @NYM W 10-5 5 1 2 0 0 3 4 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Mark McGwire 8/14/1998 PIT W 10-5 4 0 2 0 0 3 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mark McGwire 6/6/1998 SFG L 4-5 7 3 1 0 0 3 4 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mark McGwire 5/2/1998 @CHC L 3-4 5 1 0 0 0 4 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ray Lankford 9/18/1997 @CHC L 3-4 5 1 0 0 0 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mark McGwire 8/20/1997 @MON W 6-3 5 1 0 0 0 3 4 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ron Gant 9/19/1996 CHC W 5-4 6 2 1 0 0 4 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jack Clark 1987-07-08(2) LAD W 8-7 5 1 0 0 0 4 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Andy Van Slyke 4/20/1985 PIT W 4-3 4 0 1 0 0 3 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Ozzie Smith 9/26/1984 @MON W 5-0 5 1 2 0 0 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0
Ozzie Smith 8/2/1982 PIT L 2-4 8 4 0 0 0 4 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Darrell Porter 7/23/1982 HOU W 6-2 4 0 1 0 0 3 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Bobby Bonds 1980-06-08(1) @MON L 4-6 5 1 2 0 0 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mike Phillips 9/23/1979 @NYM W 7-4 5 1 1 0 0 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ted Sizemore 8/12/1974 SDP W 6-5 7 2 1 0 0 5 5 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Lou Brock 9/3/1971 CHC W 6-1 6 2 2 0 0 4 4 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tim McCarver 8/17/1969 @ATL W 5- 5 1 0 0 0 4 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Joe Cunningham 4/26/1961 MLN L 1-8 4 0 0 0 0 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Joe Cunningham 4/18/1961 @LAD L 4-5 5 1 1 0 0 3 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Alex Grammas 7/11/1959 @PHI W 4-3 5 1 0 0 0 4 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Joe Cunningham 1958-06-08(2) PHI L 4-6 6 2 1 0 0 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Wally Moon 1957-08-04(1) PHI L 4-5 6 2 1 0 0 3 4 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Hank Sauer 6/9/1956 PIT W 8-3 5 1 0 0 0 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ken Boyer 1955-05-01(1) @PIT W 4-3 4 0 1 0 0 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Solly Hemus 9/11/1954 @PIT W 7-2 5 1 2 0 0 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Stan Musial 5/3/1954 NYG W 8-2 5 1 2 0 0 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0

* Bonus obscure factoid: Prior to Wednesday, the Cardinals’ most recent game-winning sacrifice fly in the team’s final inning at-bat was on April 10, 2007 in Pittsburgh by Skip Schumaker in a 3-2 win.

Cardinals happily serve as Red Sox dumping ground


Listening to St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak discussing the club’s acquisition of future Hall of Famer John Smoltz (pictured) Wednesday afternoon made me think about the recent success of the Cardinals in restoring the luster to Red Sox castoffs.

The deep pockets of Sox principal owner John Henry and his partners enable them to eat massive contracts like Big Papi consumes… t-bones. It amazes me that while his growing number of mistakes get run out of town, Boston GM Theo Epstein continues to be issued free passes.

A lower-revenue team like St. Louis cannot afford nearly as many missteps. It seems for every Tino Martinez or Adam Kennedy contract the Cardinals have to swallow, the Sox quietly dispose of a handful of Edgar Renterias. The former St. Louis shortstop was sent away from Boston after one year of a four-year deal with $11 million cash pinned to the front of his uniform.

In just the last two years alone, the Cardinals have picked up three Beantown busts. Oddly, the first name of each of the three begin with the letter “J”.

At the 2007 deadline, the Sox were happy to send Joel Pineiro to St. Louis in return for a minor leaguer, Sean Danielson. The former Seattle starter had been signed to a $4 million base deal loaded with closer-type incentives that previous winter.

After failing in Boston, Pineiro had been optioned to the minors at the time of the trade. Less than 90 days after joining St. Louis, he signed a two-year deal for $13 million that looked like a mistake in the first year but is a bargain today.

Shortstop Julio Lugo, like Renteria before him, wore out his welcome with the tough Red Sox crowd. After having designated him for assignment, the Sox ate the remaining $13.5 million on Lugo’s four-year, $36 million deal signed before the 2007 season.

In return for slumping outfielder Chris Duncan, who has since been removed from Boston’s 40-man roster, the Cardinals picked up a year and a half of Lugo’s services with no salary obligation attached. So far, Lugo has posted a line of .343/.392/.567 in spot duty for the Cardinals.

Desperate for shortstop help since dumping Lugo, the Sox unsuccessfully tried journeyman Chris Woodward and now have acquired veteran Alex Gonzalez from Cincinnati. Both are lesser players than the one they already had – Lugo.

Then of course we have Wednesday’s addition of right-hander John Smoltz. The 42-year-old, coming off June 2008 shoulder surgery, signed with the Sox this past winter. He struggled as a starter and did not want to go to the minor leagues to return to relieving, a role in which he excelled previously.

When the Sox released Smoltz, they remained responsible for the remainder of his contract. It has a $5.5 million base, with the Cardinals only liable for a prorated portion of the $400,000 per year minimum salary, about $100,000.

I am conveniently forgetting about a fourth Red Sox reject, pitcher Matt Clement, a name I thought I would never write about again. After having rehabbed him for the better part of two years, the Sox made no effort to re-sign Clement following the 2007 season. The Cards snapped up the former Cubs starter in January, 2008 for $1.5 million. Clement never reached St. Louis and was released from Triple-A Memphis that August after underwhelming results on the mound.

The right-hander had an audition with Toronto this spring, but is now retired from baseball. Clement has become the coach of the men’s basketball team at Butler (PA) High School, his alma mater.

Still, three of four successes wouldn’t be bad, would it? Getting another shot at the Sox with a chance to atone for the 2004 World Series disappointment would be the icing on the cake. No doubt the three jilted “J’s” would receive special satisfaction from participating in an October beatdown of the Beantowners.

Looking into John Smoltz, circa 2009


By Ian Walton

I for one am quite pleased with the Cardinals’ signing of John Smoltz. Now granted, I also happen to be a Vikings fan, so I may simply be in an optimistic mood when it comes to the arms of old men, but I do have a few reasons to be hopeful.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. The Red Sox didn’t just release Smoltz on a whim. The man does sport a 8.32 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP behind a fully justified 2-5 record on the season. Dustin Mattison summed up his weaknesses quite well over at The Cardinal Nation when displaying his line against left-handed hitters (.440/.490/.758) and his line when facing batters the second time through a lineup (.388/.397/.657). These numbers scream situational right-handed relief, so despite his initial role as a fifth starter, we all know where he will end up by the time the post-season rolls around should the Cardinals qualify. And heck, with their play of late, why shouldn’t they?

Let’s take a look at Smoltz’ performances start by start this season:

Date IP ER K BB HR H
6/25 5 5 5 1 0 7
6/30 4 1 2 1 0 3
7/6 6 5 3 1 0 10
7/11 5 1 7 1 0 4
7/20 5.2 6 5 0 3 9
7/26 5 6 6 1 1 9
7/31 6 5 2 0 2 8
8/7 3.1 8 3 4 2 9
Total 40 37 33 9 8 59

His strikeout to walk ratio seems right on pace with his career numbers at approximately 3:1. His problems clearly lie in his hits and home runs allowed and those numbers clearly point to some bad luck. Opposing hitters have swung to a tune of a .343 batting average propped up by a .386 batting average with balls in play. Over his career, Smoltz has given up steady .237 and .287 marks respectively so things should start to even out soon.

I can offer no explanation for why he gave up so many home runs in his last four starts after giving up none in the previous four, but a move to Busch certainly won’t hurt in that department. I can offer an explanation for why he gave up nearly half of his walks this season in his final start, however. Take a look at his release points from the view of the catcher:

The green points were thrown for balls and it is very clear to see that at least seven of them were due to faulty mechanics. I didn’t see this wildness in any of his other starts, so hopefully it is something that Dave Duncan can address in short order.

Smoltz holds a career ERA of 3.32 and a career WHIP of 1.18 and I don’t see anything to suggest that his complete inability to match those numbers in 2009 is due to anything other than bad luck and some poor mechanics in his final start that caused him to be designated for assignment.

The Cardinals have made a number of mid-season additions that have really helped to spark their team to new heights and I see no reason to doubt this addition either. On the other hand, I do see every reason to question the Red Sox’ patience after seeing them recently acquire the mighty Alex Gonzalez (.209/.255/.295) following their dump trade of Julio Lugo (.307/.367/.443).

Thanks for financing my team’s playoff run, Boston!

Release point graph courtesy of Brooks Baseball.

Batavia franchise may be nearing its end


It seems time to admit that the New York-Penn League’s Batavia Muckdogs aren’t going to draw enough fans to survive.

Deep in six-digit debt two years ago, local ownership brought in the successful management team from the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings in a noble attempt to breathe some life back into the founding member of the league back in 1939.

Last season, the parent St. Louis Cardinals more than did their part, providing the players and coaches that brought the town exciting, winning baseball, culminating in their first NY-Penn championship since 1963.

While the result of the field was good, the result on the books was just the opposite – a quarter of a million dollar loss was absorbed by the Red Wings for 2008 operations of the Muckdogs franchise.

Here in 2009, the situation seems to be deteriorating. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle ran a somber news item on Tuesday, likely with information sourced from a member of the Rochester Community Baseball organization. The message is that RCB has not yet decided their future involvement with the money-losing Muckdogs following this season, at least publicly.

Though it was in the sports section, not with the obituaries, the end seems near.

Despite coming off their championship season, the Muckdogs are averaging only 988 fans over their first 29 home games here in 2009. That ranks them 13th in the 14-team NY-Penn League, a league in which the average attendance is three-and-a-half times higher, 3,616. That average rises to 3,818 if Batavia is excluded.

The 988 average attendance figure is down from 1,199 last year and 1,230 in 2007, reports the Democrat and Chronicle. In what seems more like gallows humor than anything, The Batavian labeled the Rochester report “idle speculation” and gamely observes that the 2009 figure is not apples and oranges since it reflects the actual attendance, not an inflated figure as in past years.

No matter how you cut it, the signals are bad.

What clinched the deal for me was a line in the Rochester news article that Rochester Community Baseball will receive 10 percent of the proceeds if the Muckdogs are sold. I had not seen that factoid before, but its inclusion brings the situation into focus.

Let’s do the simple math.

How many years of losing $250,000 per year can be covered by a 10 percent stake of a franchise likely worth in the range of $3 million to $5 million?

Two years times $250,000 equals a half-million dollars lost. Ten percent of $5 million is half-a-million dollars gain. Hmmm…

Rochester Community Baseball did not sign up to run the Batavia Muckdogs as a charity exercise. Assuming they can see no end to the continued flow of red ink, as intelligent businesspeople, what choice would they have other than to cut their losses?

If RCB cannot succeed running the team and the locals already failed in their attempts, who else would see any potential in coming in to make a third try in 2010 and beyond?

The logical and obvious conclusion, as painful as it is for the Batavia faithful, is the sale and relocation of the Muckdogs.

If that happens, the Cardinals affiliation would move with the team. St. Louis is contractually committed to the Muckdogs franchise via their Player Development Contract that runs through the 2010 season.

If Batavia fans want to ensure they catch their team in action, time is running out. The club has only nine home dates remaining in the 2009 season. Beyond that, we shall see.

Cardinals crush classy closers


Over just the last three weeks, the St. Louis Cardinals have come from behind four times in the final innings to either tie a game or win it against four top National League closers. The victims have been the Dodgers’ Jonathan Broxton, the Mets’ Francisco Rodriguez, the Pirates’ Matt Capps and most recently, the Padres’ Heath Bell.

Let’s look into each contest. Notice how several of the closers’ seasons seemed to have taken a downturn after they failed against St. Louis.

Sunday, August 16 at Busch: Cardinals 7, Padres 5 – Bell rung

Both teams waited through two rain delays totaling two hours and 19 minutes before the Cardinals scored three in the ninth to come from behind to win. Key blows against Bell were singles by Ryan Ludwick and Yadier Molina and a two-run walk off home run by Colby Rasmus.

Bell was the losing pitcher and took a blown save too. It was his first outing in St. Louis since having also taken the defeat in the 2009 All-Star Game at Busch last month. In his favor, Bell came back to earn a win against the Cubs on Monday – a doubly good outcome.

The August 16 victory gave the Cardinals a three-game sweep of the visitors and capped a 5-1 homestand. It helped the team reach two milestones as it was the first time St. Louis had been 15 games over .500 this season (67-52) and their first five-game lead in the National League Central Division race.

Sunday, August 9 at Pittsburgh: Cardinals 7, Pirates 3 – Capps blasted

In the eighth, a two-run home run by pinch-hitter Skip Schumaker gave the Cardinals the lead against Capps. A controversial plunking of Albert Pujols followed, an act which caused Capps to be ejected. A two-run double by Ludwick and a run-scoring single by Khalil Greene then padded the Cardinals’ lead.

Capps took the daily double with both the blown save and the loss. He had converted 21 of 23 save opportunities prior to that. In the eight days since, pitching for the woeful Pirates, he hasn’t had another chance at a save, though he did yield three runs in just 2/3 of an inning last Thursday.

The come-from-behind victory sent the Cards 11 games over .500 for the first time all season and put them two games ahead of the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central, at the time their largest edge since July 21.

Tuesday, August 4 at New York: Cardinals 12, Mets 7 (10 innings) – K-Rod clobbered

The Cardinals rallied from two runs down in the final inning of regulation against Rodriguez. Julio Lugo and Schumaker delivered two-strike, run-scoring hits off K-Rod in the ninth inning, with Skip’s tying the game at 7-7. After K-Rod exited, Mark DeRosa plated the game winner on a hit-by-pitch and Pujols broke out of a slump with a grand slam in the tenth to put it away.

K-Rod took the blown save, only his fourth of the season in 28 opportunities at that time. Since that night, in five save chances, he has blown two (including one loss).

Wednesday, July 29 at Busch: Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2 (15 innings) – Broxton bashed

The Cardinals were down to their last strike, losing 1-0 in the ninth when Rasmus’ broken-bat, opposite-field RBI single off Broxton sent the game into extra innings. In a marathon that lasted 15 innings over 4 hours, 53 minutes and included 453 pitches, St. Louis eventually won the game against former Cardinals starter Jeff Weaver in the 15th.

The blown save ended Broxton’s run of 12 consecutive saves and was just his third blown save of the season in 26 chances. Since, he has blown two of his four save opportunities and of course could be facing the Cardinals again on Tuesday and Wednesday nights at Dodger Stadium.

Carpenter’s walk stinginess


A couple of days ago, I wrote here about Chris Carpenter’s historic strikeout-to-walk ratio. As Carp prepares to take the mound at Dodger Stadium on Monday night, I thought (with the help of Tom Orf) that I would delve a bit deeper into the bases on balls component of the St. Louis Cardinals star’s ongoing success.

First, we will look at this season only. Carpenter is working on a run of 19 consecutive starts in 2009 of walking two or fewer batters. His teammate Joel Pineiro is tied with Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels as the current MLB leader with the former at 21 and counting.

(In the tables that follow, an asterisk (*) next to the end date denotes a current streak.)

Two or fewer walks, consecutive starts, MLB 2009

Teams Start End Gms W L GS CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Joel Pineiro STL 4/22/2009 8/15/2009 * 21 9 9 21 3 2 143.1 141 59 49 12 67 4 3.08
Cole Hamels PHI 4/10/2009 8/2/2009 21 7 6 21 1 1 123 139 66 64 23 107 18 4.68
Chris Carpenter STL 4/9/2009 8/12/2009 * 19 12 3 19 2 0 130.2 109 34 33 19 97 7 2.27
Danny Haren ARI 4/17/2009 7/23/2009 18 10 3 18 3 1 130 94 33 31 16 130 12 2.15
Carl Pavano CLE-MIN 5/11/2009 8/8/2009 16 8 5 16 1 1 101.1 115 57 52 15 70 15 4.62
Zach Duke PIT 4/8/2009 6/29/2009 16 8 6 16 2 1 112 107 41 39 26 54 11 3.13
James Shields TBR 5/3/2009 7/17/2009 15 4 4 15 0 0 100.2 117 48 42 16 76 9 3.75
Roy Halladay TOR 4/6/2009 6/29/2009 15 10 2 15 3 1 109 100 33 31 14 95 7 2.56

From a career perspective, Carp has logged an even more impressive 35 such starts in a row, dating back to July, 2006. Of course, he missed much of the 2007 and 2008 seasons due to injury, but has still managed to maintain his streak.

Over at least the last 55 years, Carpenter’s current run of 35 games with two-or-fewer bases on balls per start is 14th longest anywhere in Major League Baseball and is the only top streak still active.

To become number one, Carpenter would need to maintain his run for the equivalent of two entire seasons. That is how long it would take to eclipse the amazing streak of 99 such games put together by Carlos Silva from late 2003 into 2007.

Two or fewer walks, consecutive starts, MLB 1954-2009

Teams Start End Gms W L GS CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Carlos Silva PHI-MIN 8/2/2003 5/10/2007 99 36 34 99 3 1 610.2 760 328 302 84 238 89 4.45
Brad Radke MIN 4/18/2003 9/18/2004 62 24 17 62 4 2 404.1 442 188 176 42 247 51 3.92
David Wells SDP-BOS 8/13/2004 4/29/2007 59 25 14 59 2 0 355.2 423 189 178 43 206 47 4.5
Bret Saberhagen NYM 10/4/1992 5/14/1995 48 21 13 48 8 1 350.2 329 128 120 36 253 28 3.08
Zane Smith MON-PIT 7/25/1990 9/21/1991 45 22 12 45 9 5 308.1 284 110 88 35 172 17 2.57
Jon Lieber CHC-NYY-PHI 5/29/2002 4/21/2005 43 21 13 43 2 0 286.2 340 146 130 25 167 35 4.08
Andy Sonnanstine TBD-TBR 8/5/2007 9/21/2008 42 18 12 42 1 1 247 278 142 130 47 163 26 4.74
Shane Reynolds HOU 7/30/1998 9/4/1999 42 21 13 42 4 2 283 301 120 112 36 270 27 3.56
Lary Sorensen MIL 7/1/1978 7/23/1979 40 19 18 40 20 5 301 304 124 111 39 70 31 3.32
La Marr Hoyt CHW-SDP 9/11/1984 5/17/1986 39 18 12 39 8 3 256.1 267 116 110 22 109 29 3.86
Mike Mussina NYY 9/18/2007 9/28/2008 37 22 9 37 0 0 219.1 235 94 84 34 163 17 3.45
Bill Hands CHC 9/11/1967 4/13/1969 37 17 9 37 12 4 265.2 221 92 78 36 149 29 2.64
Robin Roberts PHI 5/7/1960 5/20/1961 36 11 20 36 14 2 258.1 277 115 107 34 135 34 3.73
Chris Carpenter STL 7/30/2006 8/12/2009 * 35 17 9 35 6 2 238.1 208 81 77 35 176 15 2.91

Bonus Carpenter coverage:

Though not related directly to bases on balls, it is worth also noting that on Monday night, Carpenter is going for his fifth consecutive start that ends in a win decision.

His is the second longest current streak in MLB after Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee at six. Carp’s Cardinals teammates broke San Diego’s Mat Latos’ consecutive start winning streak at four as they pinned a loss on the rookie on Friday night.

A fifth win Monday would tie Carpenter for the third-longest streak in MLB this season, behind leader Jorge de la Rosa of Colorado with seven. Pineiro had a comparable four-game stretch this April.

Victories in consecutive starts, MLB 2009

Teams Start End Gms W L GS CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Jorge de la Rosa COL 6/21/2009 7/30/2009 7 7 0 7 0 0 46.2 35 14 14 16 40 3 2.70
Cliff Lee CLE-PHI 7/16/2009 8/13/2009 * 6 6 0 6 3 0 49 38 7 7 6 37 2 1.29
Matt Cain SFG 5/17/2009 6/14/2009 6 6 0 6 3 0 41.2 34 9 8 14 36 3 1.73
Zack Greinke KCR 4/8/2009 5/4/2009 6 6 0 6 3 2 45 30 3 2 8 54 0 0.40
Jamie Moyer PHI 6/23/2009 7/16/2009 5 5 0 5 0 0 29.1 24 12 12 8 15 5 3.68
Aaron Cook COL 6/6/2009 6/28/2009 5 5 0 5 0 0 36 31 7 7 6 22 4 1.75
Rick Porcello DET 5/5/2009 5/27/2009 5 5 0 5 0 0 30 22 5 5 10 20 1 1.50
Matt Palmer LAA 4/23/2009 5/19/2009 5 5 0 5 1 0 31.2 23 16 15 13 18 4 4.26
Roy Halladay TOR 4/26/2009 5/17/2009 5 5 0 5 1 0 39 36 11 9 5 31 1 2.08
Mark Buehrle CHW 4/12/2009 5/7/2009 5 5 0 5 0 0 33 24 9 9 8 21 2 2.45
Chris Carpenter STL 7/27/2009 8/12/2009 * 4 4 0 4 1 0 31 34 8 8 3 21 3 2.32
Mat Latos SDP 7/24/2009 8/8/2009 4 4 0 4 0 0 25.2 16 6 6 8 19 5 2.10
Joba Chamberlain NYY 7/19/2009 8/6/2009 4 4 0 4 0 0 26.2 14 6 6 15 24 3 2.03
Randy Wells CHC 7/18/2009 8/3/2009 4 4 0 4 0 0 26.1 26 8 8 6 12 2 2.73
John Lackey LAA 7/12/2009 7/29/2009 4 4 0 4 0 0 30.2 16 5 5 10 23 2 1.47
Jarrod Washburn SEA 7/6/2009 7/23/2009 4 4 0 4 1 1 29.2 15 2 2 4 12 0 0.61
Wandy Rodriguez HOU 7/2/2009 7/21/2009 4 4 0 4 1 1 29 21 2 2 5 27 1 0.62
Danny Haren ARI 6/30/2009 7/18/2009 4 4 0 4 1 1 30 19 5 3 4 33 1 0.90
Tim Lincecum SFG 6/23/2009 7/9/2009 4 4 0 4 2 1 31.2 15 4 4 8 37 1 1.14
Ricky Romero TOR 6/21/2009 7/6/2009 4 4 0 4 0 0 28.1 21 5 5 11 25 1 1.59
Randy Wells CHC 6/21/2009 7/6/2009 4 4 0 4 0 0 26.2 23 7 7 4 17 3 2.36
Ricky Nolasco FLA 6/18/2009 7/5/2009 4 4 0 4 1 0 28 15 5 3 3 32 2 0.96
Tommy Hanson ATL 6/12/2009 6/28/2009 4 4 0 4 0 0 23 18 2 2 16 13 0 0.78
Jered Weaver LAA 5/27/2009 6/14/2009 4 4 0 4 1 1 30 17 4 4 9 29 0 1.20
Matt Harrison TEX 4/27/2009 5/14/2009 4 4 0 4 2 1 30 22 6 6 2 18 0 1.80
Derek Lowe ATL 4/25/2009 5/11/2009 4 4 0 4 0 0 25.1 24 12 12 9 17 2 4.26
Scott Richmond TOR 4/15/2009 5/3/2009 4 4 0 4 0 0 26.1 20 8 6 10 22 3 2.05
Joel Pineiro STL 4/10/2009 4/27/2009 4 4 0 4 0 0 26.1 30 11 11 6 6 1 3.76
Chad Billingsley LAD 4/8/2009 4/23/2009 4 4 0 4 0 0 26.1 14 6 6 9 26 0 2.05

Molina approaching Cards catching single-season steals leaders


As often happens in my writing, one event leads to investigating another and before I know it, I have wandered over a considerable portion of the baseball universe.


Such is the case resulting from St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina’s recent exploits.


His pickoff of San Diego outfielder Will Venable during Saturday’s top of the seventh sapped the life from the visitors’ rally. Five straight Padres had reached base with two out and the tying run was just 90 feet away from home.


Just after pinch hitter Oscar Salazar took another ball from reliever Kyle McClellan, Molina turned the game on its ear with his arm. The offense then quickly scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh and the Cardinals were on their way to a 7-4 victory.


It was Molina’s seventh runner picked off first base this season and the 33rd of his career.


During the next inning, Molina may have traveled a bridge too far as he was caught trying to steal home. That cane on the heels of Molina’s seventh stolen base on Friday night.


He is now seven-for-nine this season, a total that matches his steals over his entire professional career prior to 2009. Molina had four stolen bases in the majors from 2005 though 2008 and another three as a minor leaguer in 2001 and 2002.


The Cardinals media notes, picked up by several news services, credit the team’s record for stolen bases by a catcher in a season at nine. Their co-leaders are Tom Pagnozzi, 9-for-22 in 1991 and Tim McCarver at 9-for-15 in 1966.


That seemed surprising to me, so I fired up my invaluable copy of Lee Sinins’ Complete Baseball Encyclopedia.


Specifying a few quick parameters gave me a list of the top stolen base seasons by catchers in team history. Yet as I soon learned, players are categorized by their primary position. Stats presented are their complete results from all positions played.


Stolen bases by a catcher, season, top 30, St. Louis Cardinals history

Rk Catcher Year Steals
1 Jack Boyle 1891 19
T2 Doggie Miller 1895 18
T2 Ivey Wingo 1913 18
T4 Ivey Wingo 1914 15
T4 Mike Grady 1905 15
T6 Mike Gonzalez 1918 14
T6 Doc Bushong 1887 14
T6 Art Nichols 1901 14
T6 Lou Criger 1899 14
T10 Roger Bresnahan 1910 13
T10 John Munyan 1891 13
T12 Doc Bushong 1886 12
T12 Heinie Peitz 1893 12
T12 Klondike Douglass 1897 12
T12 Mike Gonzalez 1917 12
T16 John Munyan 1890 11
T16 Roger Bresnahan 1909 11
T16 Jack O’Neill 1903 11
T16 Eli Marrero 1999 11
T16 Jack Boyle 1888 11
T21 Jimmie Wilson 1928 9
T21 Ed Phelps 1910 9
T21 Jimmie Wilson 1932 9
T21 Tom Pagnozzi 1991 9
T21 Heinie Peitz 1895 9
T21 Tim McCarver 1966 9
T27 Ivy Wingo 1912 8
T27 Tim McCarver 1967 8
T27 Jimmie Wilson 1930 8
T30 Wilbert Robinson 1900 7
T30 Ed McFarland 1896 7
T30 Frank Snyder 1916 7
T30 Dick Buckley 1892 7
T30 Yadier Molina 2009 7
T30 Jack Boyle 1887 7
T30 Jack O’Connor 1899 7
T30 Ed Phelps 1909 7

There are quite a number of pre-1900 players on the list, headlined by the man that may be the true franchise leader, Jack Boyle, who accumulated 19 steals in 1891. Turns out that while he played 91 games at catcher, his predominant position, Boyle also logged another 41 games in the infield and outfield.

Lacking splits, I cannot confirm how many of Boyle’s 1891 steals were made as the catcher – without undertaking the lengthy process of going through individual game logs, that is.

Among those following Boyle are colorfully-named, but long-forgotten Cardinals pioneers Doggie Miller, Doc Bushong, Heinie Peitz and Klondike Douglass, each with a dozen or more thefts in an 1800’s season. Yet they all played multiple positions those years.

The undisputable king is 1899’s Lou Criger, who swiped 14 bags and only took the field behind the plate for St. Louis that year.

Post-1900, Ivey Wingo most likely had the most stolen bases by a Cardinals catcher with 18 in 1913 and 15 again the next season. I say “most likely” because Wingo played a total of ten games at first base and the outfield over those two seasons. Still, 168 games logged behind the plate means he is the likely leader.

Later to become the first Hispanic manager in the history of Major League Baseball, Cardinals catcher Mike Gonzalez swiped 12 bags in 1917 and 14 the next year. Ironically, the Cuban native also caught 168 games those two seasons, but because he spent parts of eight games at first and in the outfield, the above games-played caveat again applies.

Further, catcher Jimmie Wilson joined the Cardinals in 1928. Playing exclusively behind the plate, he stole nine bases in his St. Louis debut season. Wilson matched the total in 1932, although he did appear in the infield during four games that year.

Even if the contemporary definition of “history” begins in 1918, one recent name on the above list stands out. According to the CBE, catcher Eli Marrero logged 11 stolen bases in 1999.

Further analysis helps to clarify. In addition to the 96 games Marrero started behind the plate that season, Eli also played 20 games at first base, including three as the starter.

Using the valuable tool Retrosheet, we find that Marrero was 11-for-13 in steals that season. He logged one 1999 steal as a pinch runner and one as the first baseman, leaving a nine-of-11 success rate accumulated while catching.

Therefore, to be accurate, Pags and McCarver must share with Marrero and Wilson the club’s modern season record for stolen bases by a catcher at nine.

With just three more this season, Molina can pass them.

Will Holliday pull a Lohse or a Weaver this off-season?


While Matt Holliday’s hitting surge as a Cardinal is good for the present, will it damage his chances of remaining with the club in 2010 and beyond?

Having covered the Colorado Rockies since its inception, the Rocky Mountain News’ Tracy Ringolsby remains well connected with the club and its players, current and past. Writing for FOXSports.com, the Baseball Hall of Fame writer notes that agent Scott Boras is likely in for a busy weekend as six of the remaining 18 unsigned first round draft picks are his clients.

Down the page was a tidbit that could be both concerning and encouraging to St. Louis Cardinals fans.

Revisiting Matt Holliday’s departure from Colorado and his trade to Oakland, Ringolsby noted the Rockies’ failed bid of four years, $72 million with a reminder that his representatives (read that the Boras Corporation) were looking for a “Mark Teixeira-type deal”.

As a footnote, the Yankees first baseman and Boras extracted a commitment of $180 million for eight seasons from New York after jilting the Boston Red Sox.

Looking at Holliday’s results with St. Louis cause one to wonder if he isn’t playing himself back into Teixeira’s price range. His .493/.523/.813 line as a Cardinal is superb. Even though his lofty numbers are not sustainable, Holliday’s impact is indisputable.

In terms of the past, this was Ringlosby’s summary: “Holliday had enjoyed his career with Colorado, and then got a wake-up slap in the face when he was dealt to Oakland.”

Holliday’s poor play with the A’s this season gave critics further ammunition in asserting he was an over-inflated product of Coors Field. Ringolsby offered this quote to help explain the outfielder’s substandard stint with Oakland:

“I think the Rockies looked for the most miserable place possible and dealt him there,” said one (Rockies) teammate.

But here is the quote that may offer St. Louis fans hope:

“Now that he has escaped and landed in St. Louis, there are friends of Holliday who think he will be more aggressive in directing his pending free-agency negotiations.”


Of course, the definition of “more aggressive” remains to be seen, but it could signal intent on Holliday’s part to not sit back and let Boras play his hand.


I am not going to revisit Boras’ history, as I have done that adequately already. Suffice it to say that in a vast majority of the time, 88% by my research, Boras’ free agents not only test the market, they usually change clubs, ala Teixeira.


Optimistic Cardinals fans happily point to the exception to the rule – Kyle Lohse, who by most accounts ordered Boras to settle with the Cards last fall rather than take the risk of being disadvantaged in free agency again.


Lohse was on firm ground as Boras had turned down three years, $21 million for the pitcher to return to the Phillies in 2008. When Boras found no other takers the rest of the winter, Lohse had to accept a cut-rate one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Cardinals with two weeks remaining in spring training. Fast forwarding to when the market contracted last winter, both Boras and Lohse ultimately won with his four-year, $41 million deal signed last September.


Yet other Boras clients have left the Cardinals, such as 2006 post-season star Jeff Weaver. Despite Weaver wanting to return to St. Louis, Boras took him to a disastrous stint in Seattle for more money after turning down St. Louis’ offer.


Perhaps Holliday has wizened to the realities of the business of baseball as a result of the failed negotiations with Colorado and the subsequent bad experience in Oakland.


On the other hand, Holliday’s strong play and the looming spectre of Albert Pujols’ contract extension could mean that with every hit, Holliday further prices himself out of St. Louis’ willingness to pay. While the early vibes from ownership have been positive, there is a lot of ground to be covered before any celebrations can be planned.


In the meantime, Cardinals fans can only wait and wonder.

Can Wainwright continue his streaks?


As St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright takes the mound against the San Diego Padres on Friday night at Busch Stadium, fans know his primary focus will be on trying to help increase the Cardinals’ 4 ½-game lead over the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central Division.

Many also are aware that on the personal side, the 27-year-old right-hander will be gunning for his 14th win of the season. That would tie Wainwright’s MLB career best, set in 2007.

Fewer probably know about three current streaks that Wainwright will be looking to extend on Friday. In one case, he already owns the top mark in MLB this season. In another, he can tie for the lead and in the third, he will be gunning to tie for second.

They are:

  • Six or more innings pitched, where Waino’s run of 22 games and counting is the best in MLB this season.

  • Two or fewer earned runs allowed. With a tenth straight such game Friday night, Wainwright will tie for the MLB lead this season with Arizona’s Dan Haren, Seattle’s Eric Bedard and Kansas City’s Zach Greinke. All three of those streaks have ended.

  • Five or more strikeouts. If he continues Friday, Wainwright’s consecutive run of 12 five-K games would tie six other pitchers for the second-longest stretch across MLB this season. Atlanta’s Javier Vazquez is the runaway leader with 23 and counting, so Adam will be unable to pass him in 2009.

The details follow: (* denotes current streak)

Six or more innings pitched, consecutive starts, MLB 2009

Team StreakStart Streak End G W L GS CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Adam Wainwright STL 4/16/2009 8/8/2009 * 22 12 7 22 1 0 154.2 149 53 48 45 135 13 2.79
Ubaldo Jimenez COL 5/1/2009 8/12/2009 * 20 9 6 20 1 0 139.1 110 47 45 46 121 8 2.91
Danny Haren ARI 4/7/2009 7/18/2009 19 10 5 19 3 1 138 93 32 30 18 137 12 1.96
Josh Beckett BOS 5/5/2009 8/12/2009 * 18 12 2 18 3 2 128.1 96 37 31 26 114 9 2.17
Tim Lincecum SFG 4/18/2009 7/17/2009 17 10 1 17 3 2 126.1 91 31 27 29 149 4 1.92
Zach Duke PIT 5/12/2009 7/29/2009 15 6 6 15 2 0 104.1 104 40 40 25 52 11 3.45
Jon Garland ARI 6/3/2009 8/12/2009 * 14 2 6 14 1 0 93 91 42 35 24 50 7 3.39
Roy Oswalt HOU 5/10/2009 7/22/2009 14 6 2 14 3 0 97.1 87 37 37 21 80 8 3.42
Ted Lilly CHC 5/2/2009 7/11/2009 14 7 4 14 0 0 95.1 88 34 32 18 85 12 3.02
Cliff Lee CLE 4/16/2009 6/25/2009 14 4 4 14 1 1 101 102 25 25 21 69 6 2.23

Two or fewer earned runs allowed, consecutive starts, MLB 2009

Team StreakStart Streak End G W L GS CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Erik Bedard SEA 5/5/2009 7/25/2009 10 3 2 10 0 0 52 38 18 17 28 58 6 2.94
Danny Haren ARI 5/28/2009 7/18/2009 10 7 1 10 2 1 75 45 14 12 9 74 4 1.44
Zack Greinke KCR 4/8/2009 5/26/2009 10 8 1 10 5 2 75 54 8 7 12 81 0 0.84
Adam Wainwright STL 6/26/2009 8/8/2009 * 9 5 3 9 1 0 67 63 12 11 17 62 1 1.48
Clayton Kershaw LAD 6/16/2009 7/29/2009 9 5 0 9 0 0 56.2 34 6 5 26 55 0 0.79
Dallas Braden OAK 5/31/2009 7/11/2009 8 3 2 8 0 0 51.1 41 16 14 12 36 2 2.45
Jair Jurrjens ATL 4/17/2009 5/24/2009 8 2 2 8 0 0 50 41 11 11 14 32 3 1.98
Wandy Rodriguez HOU 7/2/2009 8/9/2009 * 7 5 0 7 1 1 47 35 4 4 9 41 3 0.77
Felix Hernandez SEA 5/24/2009 6/27/2009 7 4 0 7 1 1 53 38 10 5 14 51 2 0.85
Johan Santana NYM 4/6/2009 5/11/2009 7 4 2 7 0 0 46 31 8 4 13 60 2 0.78

Five or more strikeouts, consecutive starts, MLB 2009

Team StreakStart Streak End G W L GS CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Javier Vazquez ATL 4/8/2009 8/9/2009 * 23 10 7 23 1 0 155.1 129 53 50 32 171 13 2.90
Tim Lincecum SFG 6/12/2009 8/12/2009 * 12 7 2 12 4 2 93.1 63 20 16 18 110 3 1.54
Danny Haren ARI 5/12/2009 7/18/2009 12 7 2 12 2 1 89 60 22 20 9 86 9 2.02
Josh Beckett BOS 4/30/2009 7/1/2009 12 7 2 12 1 1 81.1 69 33 27 21 76 7 2.99
Justin Verlander DET 4/11/2009 6/10/2009 12 7 1 12 2 1 82.2 62 24 21 23 102 4 2.29
Chad Billingsley LAD 4/13/2009 6/9/2009 12 7 3 12 0 0 79.2 68 26 24 34 86 2 2.71
Roy Halladay TOR 4/11/2009 6/7/2009 12 9 1 12 3 1 93 84 25 23 11 86 4 2.23
Adam Wainwright STL 6/16/2009 8/8/2009 * 11 7 3 11 1 0 80 77 18 17 19 75 4 1.91
Ricky Nolasco FLA 6/12/2009 8/7/2009 11 6 1 11 1 0 73.1 53 23 21 14 84 7 2.58
Felix Hernandez SEA 5/24/2009 7/22/2009 11 7 0 11 1 1 83 59 17 12 20 81 3 1.30
Tim Lincecum SFG 4/7/2009 6/2/2009 11 4 1 11 0 0 71.2 67 27 24 21 91 2 3.01
Zack Greinke KCR 4/8/2009 5/31/2009 11 8 1 11 5 2 82 62 12 10 12 88 0 1.10
Johan Santana NYM 4/6/2009 5/27/2009 10 7 2 10 0 0 66 52 20 13 20 86 5 1.77

A special thanks to Tom Orf for the data.

Carpenter’s historic strikeout-to-walk ratio


Strikeouts. They are the flashiest of all possible mound outcomes for a pitcher.

While Greg Maddux once uttered, “Chicks dig the long ball,” had he spoke about pitchers, he easily could have uttered the phrase “Chicks dig punchouts.”

Yet by themselves, strikeouts don’t always tell the complete story.

Take the Mets’ Oliver Perez. This season, the veteran lefty has fanned almost one opposing batter per inning – 58 in 60 1/3 frames. However during that same time, Perez has issued a whopping 55 free passes to enemy hitters.

So while Perez’ strikeout rate is impressive, his strikeout-to-walk ratio of 1.05 is actually quite mediocre. Not surprisingly, Ollie is carrying a losing record and an ERA right at six.

Closer to home, St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter is the anti-Ollie as he won his seventh straight game and 12th of the season Wednesday night. The 34-year-old went seven strong innings against Cincinnati, the sixth consecutive start he’s gone at least that long. Amazingly, the two runs allowed actually increased his ERA from 2.26 to 2.27.

Getting ahead in the count was key as Carp threw first-pitch strikes to 22 of 29 hitters. His control was impeccable as he fanned ten opposing batters for the second time this season but did not issue one walk. Carpenter has not given out more than two free passes in any of his 19 starts this season and had one or none in an impressive 13 of them.

Putting that all together from a 2009 season perspective, he has 97 strikeouts and just 19 walks in 130 2/3 innings, for a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.11.

How does that stack up, you might ask?

It would be a franchise record-breaker. Not just since 1954, but forever.

In the entire storied history of the St. Louis Cardinals, no pitcher has ever delivered a full-season strikeout-to-walk ratio of over five. In fact, only seven times in history has a Cardinals pitcher accrued a ratio of at least four.

This isn’t new territory for the 2005 Cy Young Award winner. Of the seven complete seasons of a four-or-greater ratio in club annals, Carpenter had three of them.

In comparison, Hall of Famer Bob Gibson managed just one – a 4.32 ratio during his signature season of 1968. The best year from Dizzy Dean, generally acknowledged as the second-greatest Cardinals pitcher ever, was “just” 3.68. Control artist extraordinaire Bob Tewksbury (1993 and 1992) had the best two full seasons currently on the club’s books, at 4.85 and 4.55 respectively.

Still, Carpenter has competition on his own roster. Not to be outdone, if the season ended today, Carpenter’s teammate Joel Pinero’s strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.47 would also rank fourth-highest in franchise history.

Strikeout-to-walk ratio, season, St. Louis Cardinals history (minimum 100 innings pitched)

Rk Player K/BB IP Year Age G H R ER BB SO ERA
1 Chris Carpenter 5.11 130.2 2009 34 19 109 34 33 19 97 2.27
2 Bob Tewksbury 4.85 213.2 1993 32 32 258 99 91 20 97 3.83
3 Bob Tewksbury 4.55 233 1992 31 33 217 63 56 20 91 2.16
4 Joel Pineiro 4.47 148.1 2009 30 22 151 63 53 15 67 3.22
5 Lindy McDaniel 4.38 116.1 1960 24 65 85 28 27 24 105 2.09
6 Bob Gibson 4.32 304.2 1968 32 34 198 49 38 62 268 1.12
7 Chris Carpenter 4.28 221.2 2006 31 32 194 81 76 43 184 3.09
8 Chris Carpenter 4.18 241.2 2005 30 33 204 82 76 51 213 2.83
9 Chris Carpenter 4.00 182 2004 29 28 169 75 70 38 152 3.46
10 Bob Gibson 3.68 175.1 1967 31 24 151 62 58 40 147 2.98
11 Dizzy Dean 3.68 315 1936 26 51 310 128 111 53 195 3.17
12 Dizzy Dean 3.64 197.1 1937 27 27 200 76 59 33 120 2.69
13 Bob Tewksbury 3.59 155.2 1994 33 24 190 97 92 22 79 5.32
14 Rheal Cormier 3.55 186 1992 25 31 194 83 76 33 117 3.68
15 John Tudor 3.45 275 1985 31 36 209 68 59 49 169 1.93
16 Matt Morris 3.43 216.1 2001 26 34 218 86 76 54 185 3.16
17 Bruce Sutter 3.35 122.2 1984 31 71 109 26 21 23 77 1.54
18 Dick Hughes 3.35 222.1 1967 29 37 164 72 66 48 161 2.67
19 Bob Tewksbury 3.33 145.1 1990 29 28 151 67 56 15 50 3.47
20 Darryl Kile 3.31 232.1 2000 31 34 215 109 101 58 192 3.91
21 Matt Morris 3.16 192.2 2005 30 31 209 101 88 37 117 4.11
22 Bob Gibson 3.11 294 1970 34 34 262 111 102 88 274 3.12
23 Dizzy Dean 3.11 293 1933 23 48 279 113 99 64 199 3.04
24 Rene Arocha 3.10 188 1993 27 32 197 89 79 31 96 3.78
25 Matt Morris 3.08 172.1 2003 28 27 164 76 72 39 120 3.76

Across Major League Baseball this season, Carpenter ranks fourth behind former Cardinal and current Arizona ace Dan Haren (6.65), Toronto’s Roy Halladay (6.57) and Javier Vazquez of Atlanta (5.34). Carp’s current season would rank 84th-best all-time in MLB.

Speaking of all-time, the franchise career leader in strikeout-to-walk ratio is none other than Carpenter at 4.21. In fact, he is the only pitcher in team history to exceed 3.62, the mark of second-best Lee Smith.

Most impressively, the current Cardinals are represented by four in the top 15 all-time with Pineiro at sixth (3.03), Ryan Franklin at 14th (2.57) and Adam Wainwright at number 15 (2.47). In addition, Kyle Lohse ranks 26th in team history (2.28).

Strikeout-to-walk ratio, career, St. Louis Cardinals history (minimum 200 innings pitched)

Rk Player K/BB IP From To Age G H R ER BB SO ERA
1 Chris Carpenter 4.21 797.1 2004 2009 29-34 117 701 282 263 156 656 2.97
2 Lee Smith 3.62 266.2 1990 1993 32-35 245 239 92 86 68 246 2.90
3 Rheal Cormier 3.41 438.2 1991 1994 24-27 87 471 222 201 75 256 4.12
4 Bob Tewksbury 3.27 968.2 1989 1994 28-33 154 1047 424 375 125 409 3.48
5 Joe Hoerner 3.06 244 1966 1969 29-32 206 187 68 57 62 190 2.10
6 Joel Pineiro 3.03 360.2 2007 2009 28-30 59 400 181 166 62 188 4.14
7 Dick Hughes 3.03 307.1 1966 1968 28-30 68 221 101 95 76 230 2.78
8 Darryl Kile 2.79 544.1 2000 2002 31-33 82 525 228 214 151 421 3.54
9 Dizzy Dean 2.69 1737.1 1930 1937 20-27 273 1684 676 577 407 1095 2.99
10 Jack Powell 2.66 338.1 1901 1901 26-26 45 351 168 133 50 133 3.54
11 Woody Williams 2.62 588.2 2001 2004 34-37 93 551 246 231 157 412 3.53
12 Matt Morris 2.61 1377.1 1997 2005 22-30 237 1368 612 552 378 986 3.61
13 Rene Arocha 2.61 320.2 1993 1995 27-29 118 346 155 138 70 183 3.87
14 Ryan Franklin 2.57 202.2 2007 2009 34-36 187 187 68 64 49 126 2.84
15 Adam Wainwright 2.47 576 2005 2009 23-27 139 557 228 209 180 445 3.27
16 Paul Dean 2.44 669 1934 1939 21-26 124 691 307 275 144 351 3.70
17 Todd Stottlemyre 2.40 565.2 1996 1998 31-33 85 492 260 237 209 501 3.77
18 Harvey Haddix 2.39 786.1 1952 1956 26-30 127 742 355 319 228 544 3.65
19 Ron Taylor 2.38 278.1 1963 1965 25-27 142 271 124 116 78 186 3.75
20 Buddy Schultz 2.35 210.2 1977 1979 26-28 133 184 83 78 74 174 3.33
21 Bruce Sutter 2.33 396.2 1981 1984 28-31 249 351 133 120 111 259 2.72
22 Bob Gibson 2.33 3884.1 1959 1975 23-39 528 3279 1420 1258 1336 3117 2.91
23 Donovan Osborne 2.32 840 1992 1999 23-30 143 851 415 366 231 535 3.92
24 Reggie Cleveland 2.32 706.2 1969 1973 21-25 116 716 346 301 193 448 3.83
25 John Tudor 2.30 881.2 1985 1990 31-36 128 757 284 247 195 448 2.52
26 Kyle Lohse 2.28 287 2008 2009 29-30 49 297 133 126 76 173 3.95

While many have suggested the Cardinals’ urgency to win should be driven by a desire to not waste Albert Pujols’ prime years, “What about Carpenter,” I ask?

At age 34, Carp may not have too many more peak performance seasons remaining. Let’s fully enjoy them while we can.

(Thanks as always to Tom Orf for the tables.)

Weekly live blog on FOX Sports Midwest: Wednesday, August 12


I am returning as a panelist for FOX Sports Midwest’s weekly live blog session to be held throughout Wednesday evening’s Reds-Cardinals game.

You can participate via FOX Sports Midwest’s website or once the event begins, you can enter your comments and questions right here in the “CoveritLive” area below.

Going for his 12th win, Chris Carpenter faces former Reds top prospect Homer Bailey as the Cards try for a 2-1 edge in their three-game home series against Cincinnati.

Wednesday’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Central.

Cardinals hit by pitch overreaction… or is it?


As the entire Cardinal Nation knows as old news by now, Pittsburgh Pirates closer Matt Capps was ejected for hitting Albert Pujols with a pitch in the back during Sunday’s series finale at PNC Park.

Capps relieved starter Zach Duke with one on and one out in the eighth inning. His first batter faced, pinch hitter Skip Schumaker, hit a two-run home run to give the Cardinals a 4-3 lead. Pujols was up next.

On the 0-1 pitch, Capps drilled Pujols with a fastball to the back. Pujols glared at Capps, but took first base as Capps was immediately ejected by home plate umpire Mike Estabrook. Pujols was the third Cardinals batter hit in the series, while the Pirates had one.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was unhappy. “I think (Estabrook) read it exactly right. I think it was an intentional hit. And there’s no doubt in my mind it came from the bench. I really believe it didn’t come from the manager. Don’t ask me to expound on that. That’s my comment. It was intentional. It came from the bench; it wasn’t the manager who ordered it. The umpire handled it properly.”

La Russa implied the hit was ordered by Pirates’ pitching coach Joe Kerrigan. Once he calmed down, Pujols was more politically inclined with his remarks.

Pujols said, “I don’t think he did it on purpose, but it looked bad after that home run.”

In a most predictable reaction, Capps denied intent.

“Albert Pujols, he’s the classiest guy in baseball, he’s not a guy you’re going to intentionally hit, especially in that situation.” Capps said. “We were playing a good game. I understand I just gave up the homer, but I had him 0-1. I tried to go in and got too strong and it got away from me. I wasn’t happy he threw me out.”

Like others, I am awaiting a ruling from MLB disciplinarian Bob Watson, especially after Cardinals pitcher Brad Thompson was slapped with a three-game suspension for a pitch that did not even hit the Mets’ David Wright last week. There are differences in that Thompson’s pitch was near the New York star’s head, yet Brad was also not ejected as was Capps.

I would have let this story drift into history without comment had I not come across a 2007 article when reading about Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder’s well-publicized rage when hit by the Dodgers’ Guillermo Mota last week.

See if this scenario sounds familiar. If you have trouble making the connection, re-read the early part of this post.

In May, 2007, the Brewers and Pirates were squaring off when Milwaukee’s J.J. Hardy blasted a three-run home run off Capps. The Pirates’ closer, lauded for his excellent control in the game story, went 0-1 on the next batter, Fielder. Capps’ next offering came in at the slugger’s head, but fortunately was deflected by Fielder’s shoulder. Not surprisingly, Prince took exception to his shabby treatment, though he did not attempt to enter the opponent’s clubhouse as he did in Los Angeles.

Capps denied he hit Fielder, but Watson slapped him with a four-game suspension that even the Pittsburgh papers agreed with.

Further, just last month, these same Pirates and Brewers were involved in a bench-clearing incident as the result of another beaning. It was allegedly retaliation for an earlier plunking of Brewers’ star Ryan Braun, though Capps personally was not on the mound this time.

Clearly there is a pattern in Capps’ behavior (and that of his club) that needs to be reflected in a suspension. It is not obvious that one is coming, however.

I can’t help but wonder if Watson’s action would have been immediate had one of the New York teams had been involved.

Will Cincy’s deadline trades pay off with a wild card?


I read an interesting blog post from the New York Times on Sunday entitled “Wild Card Is a Tease”, regarding the wild card and deadline trading intended to help clubs capture it. The author, Jim Luttrell, points out that only five of the 28 wild card entrants since 1995 were more than five games out at the non-waiver trade deadline.

The conclusion is that many teams further out in the standings that were making trades were wasting their efforts and perhaps hurting themselves for the future.

As the reader comments that follow point out, eight of the 28 reached the World Series and four of them won, a sample that is too large for my tastes. I am not going to go off on how badly the 162-game season has been devalued by a first-round best-of-five series. I won’t, but I would really like to. Well, maybe I will just a little bit.

A baseball purist at heart, I can begrudgingly acknowledge the value of the wild card for fan interest purposes. Still, the first round of the playoffs needs to be extended to seven games even if it means shortening the regular season. Further, the wild card must be put at a greater disadvantage (only one or two home games at most). (The first point caused an awful flashback to Ford Frick and his fricking 1961 asterisk.)

At any rate, Luttrell’s post left me wanting. The most important question was left mostly unanswered.

Which teams were not within five games of the wild card at the non-waiver deadline but still made trades that are most likely to do them no good?

I am not sure why the writer stopped short of the logical conclusion, so I will satisfy my own curiosity, focusing on the National League.

First and foremost, the St. Louis Cardinals were in first place by a half-game on July 31. The other NL Division leaders were Los Angeles and Philadelphia. The co-wild card leaders were San Francisco and Colorado. Other teams within five games of the two were Chicago, Florida, Atlanta, Milwaukee and Houston.

In other words, only six of the 16 NL teams were not either leading their division or sitting within five games of the wild card.

Somewhere Bud Selig is uttering “excellent” while tenting fingers together, even if he isn’t counting his money at the time. (Heading further astream, is it just me or can anyone else see the resemblance of a rug-free Bud with Mr. Burns from The Simpsons?)

Two of the “out of it clubs” are from each division. They are New York and Washington from the East, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh from the Central along with Arizona and San Diego from the West.

Pittsburgh dumped half their team. San Diego shipped off ace Jake Peavy. Washington jettisoned first baseman Nick Johnson. The Mets and Diamondbacks basically did nothing of substance.

That leaves the one schizophrenic seller-buyer-seller, the Cardinals current opponent, Cincinnati. Walt Jocketty’s Reds made three deals, the biggest in adding former Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen from Toronto.

This trade probably won’t turn out to be quite as bad as the ill-fated deadline deal made by the Bucs two years ago when they inexplicably picked up Matt Morris, but is as equally puzzling. The Reds were 12 games under .500 at the July 31 deadline and have gone 3-5 since.

In a weird and unfortunate parallel with the Cards’ earlier acquisition of Mark DeRosa, the newest Red has been able to play in just four games for his new club. Rather than a wrist injury, Rolen’s problems have resulted from a beaning suffered a week ago Sunday at the hands of his ex-St. Louis teammate, Rockies pitcher Jason Marquis.

As Cincinnati falls further back in the standings, they made a waiver trade on Sunday sending reliever David Weathers to the Milwaukee Brewers. They had earlier sent infielder/outfielder Jerry Hairston to the Yankees. In other words, if the Reds were a buyer for one day last week, they were a seller immediately before and after.

So there you have it. Other than the odd trade of Edwin Encarnacion and two prospects for an aging, injury-prone and expensive Rolen, none of the NL teams considered too far back in the standings made any such questionable deals.

Maybe that is why the author didn’t bring his original post to its logical conclusion. At least in the NL, there doesn’t appear to be much of anything to say.

Cardinals spring training demographics


I have been a long-time admirer and supporter of spring training, an event I have attended for at least the last twenty years, first as a fan then later as a journalist.

Still, I can understand that writing about spring training in August may seem odd. Yet there is a method to my madness.

In my recent electronic travels, I came across a brand new study which assesses the economic impact of spring training on the Florida economy. The Bonn Marketing Research Group, Inc. was contracted by the Florida Sports Foundation to do the work. In addition to financial data, the study team interviewed over 2,100 game attendees this spring.

As the summary says,

‘The study documents demographic and behavioral characteristics of those attendees whose expenditures contributed to the overall economic impact. Included in this economic impact analysis were operating expenditures for teams, stadiums, concessionaires and game attendees expenditures.”

While there is considerable detail on each of the elements noted above, I will quote just the highest-level conclusion:

During 2009, the total value of MLB Florida spring training upon the Florida economy represented $752.3 million in total spending, which generated $284.2 million in total labor income and supported or created 9,205 part-time and full-time jobs.”

That isn’t why I am posting about the subject here, however. There were several supporting data areas buried in the study detail that I found interesting as a St. Louis Cardinals watcher.

Homes of spring training attendees

I am not alone in my travels as the Cardinals rank fourth of 16 Florida teams in the percentage of out-of-state spring training attendees at 61%. The average is 48%.

Interviews FL in-county FL non-county Out of state
Cardinals 119 19 16% 27 23% 73 61%
Total 2110 510 24% 586 28% 1014 48%

Spring training attendance

Though the Cardinals ranked seventh in total spring attendance with over 101,000 fans in 2009, their per-game attendance of 5,652 is just ninth. That total is below the Florida average of 6,030 per game.

Attendance Rank Dates Per game Rank
Cardinals home 101,740 7/16 18 5,652 9/16
Florida total/average 1,561,873 259 6,030

Listed capacity of Jupiter’s Roger Dean Stadium is just under 7,000, officially 6,871. On the average, the Cards games are at 82% capacity.

Here I will step away from the study for a moment to show the changes in Cardinals spring training attendance over the last decade.

Attendance at Jupiter’s Roger Dean Stadium for Cardinals games is down 20 percent since 2000 even while overall MLB Florida per game spring attendance (including the Cardinals) grew by ten percent.

Cards spring home Attendance Dates Per gm YTY FL attendance Per gm YTY
2009 101,740 18 5,652 -2.2% 1,561,873 6,030 -7.4%
2008 92,465 15 5,779 -18.4% 1,677,858 6,478 3.6%
2007 102,619 15 6,841 3.5% 1,716,840 6,243 6.2%
2006 92,070 15 6,603 4.5% 1,604,393 5,855 -6.6%
2005 94,543 15 6,303 -1.0% 1,598,454 6,244 7.2%
2004 95,483 15 6,366 5.4% 1,557,934 5,792 9.0%
2003 84,336 14 6,024 -8.2% 1,397,144 5,272 4.6%
2002 97,733 16 6,516 -4.5% 1,538,444 5,028 -5.8%
2001 95,369 14 6,812 -4.5% 1,500,184 5,320 -2.9%
2000 99,655 14 7,118 1,598,255 5,473
2009 vs 2000 -1,466 -20.6% 557 10.2%

The rest of the study data is not broken out by team, but here are a few of the top-level spring training demographic tidbits for all clubs:

• “College Graduate” was the most frequently reported level of education for attendees at an average of 40.8%.

• 72.6% of attendees have and average household income of over $50,000, with 37.3% of attendees having an average household income of over $80,000.

• Over 87% of attendees for the 2009 MLB Florida spring training season were Caucasian.

• On average 63.6% of attendees intercepted during the 2009 MLB Florida spring training season were male compared with the 36.4% that were female.

• “Married” was the most frequently reported marital status for attendees at 71.3%.

• The average spring training party is 2.9 individuals and they remain an average of 5.8 nights.

• 36.9% of attendees reported that they were first time attendees of MLB Florida spring training.

• The attendees’ average number of games attended in the past three years was 8.9 games.

• 91.9% of MLB Florida spring training attendees plan to attend MLB Florida spring training in the future.

Reinforcing that last point, I am one of the majority and hope to see you there next spring!

You can read the entire 56-page study document here.

Pujols: 100 is a serious number


There is something about triple digits that capture the fancy of the numerologist in all baseball fans.

On Saturday night in Pittsburgh, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Albert Pujols drove in three runs with a bases-loaded double. In the process, he crossed the 100 RBI threshold for the ninth time in nine Major League seasons and extended his Major League lead in the important category.

As such, Pujols only trails Hall of Famer Stan Musial in years with 100 or more RBI as a Cardinal. “The Man” finished his illustrious career with ten such seasons, the most in team history.

At the age of 29, the opportunity may be ahead for Pujols to double that mark before his career concludes.

100 or more RBI seasons – Cardinals franchise history

From To Ages Seasons
Stan Musial 1946 1957 25-36 10
Albert Pujols 2001 2009 21-29 9
Joe Medwick 1934 1939 22-27 6
Jim Bottomley 1924 1929 24-29 6
Johnny Mize 1937 1941 24-28 5
Jim Edmonds 2000 2004 30-34 3
Joe Torre 1969 1971 28-30 3
Bill White 1962 1964 28-30 3
Enos Slaughter 1946 1952 30-36 3
Chick Hafey 1928 1930 25-27 3
Rogers Hornsby 1921 1925 25-29 3
Scott Rolen 2003 2004 28-29 2
Mark McGwire 1998 1999 34-35 2
George Hendrick 1980 1982 30-32 2
Ted Simmons 1974 1975 24-25 2
Ken Boyer 1963 1964 32-33 2
Ray Jablonski 1953 1954 26-27 2
Whitey Kurowski 1945 1947 27-29 2
Ripper Collins 1934 1935 30-31 2

With the three-RBI game Saturday, Pujols extended his franchise career lead over the last 55 years in such games to 115.

Three or more RBI games – Cardinals (1954-2009)

Games
Albert Pujols 115
Ken Boyer 83
Stan Musial 78
Ray Lankford 75
Ted Simmons 74
Jim Edmonds 73
Bill White 55
Mark McGwire 55
Scott Rolen 50
George Hendrick 49
Willie McGee 43
Keith Hernandez 43
Joe Torre 42
Curt Flood 34
Edgar Renteria 33
Brian Jordan 31
Todd Zeile 30
Lou Brock 29
Mike Shannon 28
Ken Reitz 28
Tom Herr 27
Wally Moon 26
Ryan Ludwick 25
Julian Javier 25
Pedro Guerrero 24
Terry Pendleton 23
Tim McCarver 23
J.D. Drew 23
Ozzie Smith 22
Darrell Porter 22
Joe Cunningham 22
Ron Gant 21
Jack Clark 21
Craig Paquette 20

Thanks to Tom Orf for the research.

DeRosa: Long balls at a record pace


On Friday night in Pittsburgh, St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Mark DeRosa blasted his eighth home run of his short Cardinals career. The fourth-inning shot to centerfield was part of a three-hit night for the 34-year-old, his best game since joining St. Louis from Cleveland for relievers Chris Perez and Jess Todd on June 27.

It is unknown the extent that DeRosa’s swing is being hampered by his bad left wrist that will require off-season surgery to repair a torn tendon sheath. The right-handed hitter is currently batting just .212 as a Cardinal, but is making his hits count. Half of his 18 safeties have gone for extra bases.

Friday marked DeRosa’s 22nd game wearing the Birds on the Bat. His eight homers in that span put him in a three-way tie for the fastest home run start for a new Cardinal since at least 1954. The others are Dick Allen (1970) and Reggie Sanders (2004).

It was DeRosa’s first home run in five contests after he earlier set the team mark for fastest to seven long balls (in 17 games).

DeRosa, a free agent-to-be, would need to hit another long ball on Saturday to capture a share of the mark for fastest Cardinal to nine home runs in at least the last 55 years. That record is owned by re-born outfielder Rick Ankiel in 2007. Allen was also the fastest to ten homers, in his first 26 games, followed by Mark McGwire in 27 contests (1997).

The table below, courtesy of Tom Orf, is sorted by the fastest to eight home runs.

New Cardinals fastest to one through ten home runs in games (1954-2009)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Allen 1 5 7 8 15 16 18 22 25 26
Sanders 5 5 11 11 14 15 18 22 32 49
DeRosa 7 7 8 12 13 14 17 22
Ankiel-2 1 3 3 9 17 19 22 23 23 39
Pujols 4 7 9 11 18 18 20 23 29 30
McGwire 8 11 12 12 14 20 20 24 25 27
Edmonds 2 6 8 9 10 13 21 25 26 28
W.Clark 2 3 4 5 20 22 22 26 32 45
Walker 5 6 9 14 21 22 27 27 32 35
P.Wilson 1 5 9 12 17 21 30 31 48
Spencer 7 8 10 12 14 27 32 33 50 72
J.Clark 1 5 15 21 26 29 32 33 44 45
Paquette 1 8 11 13 17 26 33 34 35 36
Brunansky 4 5 5 11 26 30 35 38 60 64
Drew 2 7 7 12 12 24 27 41 47 50
Gant 2 4 9 13 29 31 34 42 44 46
R.Smith 10 10 18 19 25 26 32 42 43 45
Cepeda 1 6 10 11 18 34 36 44 47 47
Boyer 1 16 24 27 31 38 38 44 44 55
Cunningham 1 2 2 7 14 23 45 46 54 55
Torre 4 7 12 21 29 43 45 46 50 56
Rolen 12 13 25 26 35 37 40 46 47 47
Duncan 9 10 15 25 33 39 40 49 53 55
Moryn 11 21 29 30 34 40 43 49 50 57
Guerrero 13 19 38 41 43 45 49 50 68 82
Mather 7 20 26 28 30 36 39 54
Gaetti 6 11 17 24 39 47 47 55 69 69
Encarnacion 20 24 25 26 34 48 50 55 65 65
Tatis 10 12 22 27 35 38 48 55 56 57
Jeffries 3 4 4 21 22 28 48 56 58 64
Hendrick 3 17 26 30 35 36 41 56 57 64
Whiten 3 11 12 15 21 28 57 59 66 76
T.Martinez 27 27 38 42 43 50 57 61 76 78
Glaus 25 40 56 57 60 61 63 67 70 75
Ludwick 24 27 31 33 41 41 50 69 70 76
B.White 10 13 14 24 27 57 63 71 106 112
Rasmus 20 30 33 34 41 46 54 71 74 75
Ankiel 13 14 54 56 56 62 70 72 75 76
Dunston 2 19 21 32 39 63 67 75 95 104
Van Slyke 6 7 9 15 44 54 60 77 103 137
Lindeman 2 23 23 25 43 44 70 79 93 102
Brock 7 25 26 64 66 67 79 80 83 84
Jordan 19 21 23 28 29 75 79 84 89 89
Spiezio 7 14 22 58 62 81 83 84 98 99
Galarraga 39 40 53 55 58 73 79 86 91 94
Hague 2 33 39 49 62 64 84 87 108 108
Zeile 3 32 44 54 68 81 84 88 92 108
Flood 11 22 38 44 49 69 88 89 96 97
M.Anderson 6 10 11 13 49 66 96 103
T.Howard 2 19 85 86 88 89 103 104 107 133
Freed 3 23 30 36 48 56 57 108 119
Shannon 32 57 64 70 83 111 112 115 117 121
Grudzielanek 17 24 32 66 83 97 105 117
Lankford 15 22 24 69 90 112 119 119 120 131
E.Perez 16 24 30 31 81 91 93 127 128 129
Molina 45 51 83 91 114 115 116 127 139 149
Marrero 9 10 18 44 57 82 111 128 129 140
Renteria 34 47 47 54 68 118 129 134 135 139
Jose 7 9 16 31 39 119 148 148 159 168
Eckstein 37 45 99 102 107 126 130 149 173 275
Simmons 14 54 76 129 140 147 195 202 210 213
Luna 1 12 75 125 151 166 176 207
Schumaker 29 98 108 158 172 208 210 214 218 254
Gibson 80 122 133 152 177 180 233 243 256 260
O.Smith 7 15 226 229 268 307 429 453 492 504
Holliday 7 9 9 13
Cedeno 1 6 10 14 16 27
Laga 3 6 18 19 38
Nunez 3 15 18 22 76
Plantier 1 5 18 25 40
Musial 8 15 19 26 26 42
Ryan 8 12 26 31 197
J.Rodriquez 3 5 10 34 50 118 123
McNertney 4 10 13 34
Bonilla 4 8 21 38 48
K.Greene 11 13 40 41 42
LaRue 19 25 29 42 68
Lopez 19 20 29 42
Groat 2 3 37 46 70 113 306
Bennett 41 43 45 46 80 117
Hart 6 40 41 48
Belliard 15 42 45 49 49
Barden 31 34 35 61
Wise 17 57 58 61
Wainwright 17 84 100 136
Lugo 1
T.Greene 5 12
Stavinoha 41 61
Thurston 21
McDonald 1 2 5
Simpson 3 5 23

Pujols: Extra bases in bunches


St. Louis Cardinals fans would probably rather forget Wednesday afternoon’s collapse at New York’s Citi Field as the Mets shut out the visitors by a 9-0 score.

Still, there was at least one positive to come out of the game. After hitting a double and two home runs on Tuesday night, Albert Pujols came back strongly on Wednesday, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that his recent slump is totally behind him.

Albert stroked a pair of doubles in three official at-bats Wednesday, both to left field. The first was hit so hard that despite running at full speed, Pujols barely made it into second base before the throw. (He also reached base a third time when hit by a pitch.)

The two Mets contests became Pujols’ 13th and 14th multiple extra-base hit games this season. In the process, he extended his 2009 Major League Baseball lead in the category over Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder and the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier, both with 11.

Multiple extra-base hit games – 2009 MLB

Games
Albert Pujols 14
Prince Fielder 11
Andre Ethier 11
Mark Teixeira 10
Cody Ross 10
Justin Morneau 10
Nick Markakis 10
Adam Lind 10
Raul Ibanez 10
Brad Hawpe 10
Ryan Braun 10

The best season of such games by a Cardinal player since at least 1954 was set at 19 by Pujols in 2004 and tied by him again just two years later. In fact, Pujols has registered seven of the top 15 seasons with multiple extra-base hit games by a Cardinal over at least the last 55 years.

Considering the quality of hitters that have donned the birds on the bat uniform back to and including the second half of Hall of Famer Stan Musial’s career makes Albert’s feats even more impressive.

Multiple extra-base hit games, season – Cardinals (1954-2009)

Year Games
Albert Pujols 2004 19
Albert Pujols 2006 19
Mark McGwire 1998 18
Ryan Ludwick 2008 17
Jim Edmonds 2004 17
Stan Musial 1954 16
Mark McGwire 1999 16
Jim Edmonds 2003 16
Stan Musial 1957 15
Albert Pujols 2009 14
Albert Pujols 2008 14
Albert Pujols 2003 14
Scott Rolen 2003 13
Albert Pujols 2002 13
Albert Pujols 2001 13
Jim Edmonds 2000 13
Ken Boyer 1960 13
Dick Allen 1970 13
Fernando Tatis 1999 12
Scott Rolen 2006 12
Jack Clark 1987 12
Garry Templeton 1979 11
Scott Rolen 2004 11
Albert Pujols 2005 11
Ray Lankford 1996 11
Felix Jose 1991 11
Jim Edmonds 2005 11
Orlando Cepeda 1967 11
Lou Brock 1967 11

Given the high number of top individual seasons already put into the record books by Pujols means it is not surprising that he leads the Cardinals in such career games in at least the last 55 years. Albert’s total of 126 games is a whopping 40 percent higher than accumulated the closest player, Ray Lankford.

Multiple extra-base hit games, career – Cardinals (1954-2009)

Games
Albert Pujols 126
Ray Lankford 90
Jim Edmonds 80
Lou Brock 77
Ken Boyer 76
Stan Musial 71
Ted Simmons 58
Bill White 51
Scott Rolen 46
Mark McGwire 46
George Hendrick 45
Keith Hernandez 42
Willie McGee 40
Curt Flood 39
Brian Jordan 36
Joe Torre 33
Garry Templeton 31
Edgar Renteria 30
Ozzie Smith 28
Ken Reitz 27
Ryan Ludwick 27
Todd Zeile 26
Julian Javier 25
J.D. Drew 25
Terry Pendleton 24
Wally Moon 24
Tim McCarver 23
Orlando Cepeda 23
Rip Repulski 22
Darrell Porter 22
Joe Cunningham 22
Fernando Tatis 21
Vince Coleman 21
Ron Gant 20
Jack Clark 20

Here in 2009, Pujols still has roughly a third of the season, 52 games remaining, to build onto his total. If able to maintain his pace the rest of the way, Albert would end with 21 multiple-extra base hit games. That would vault him to the top with the best season in the category by any Cardinal in at least the last 55 years.


Extra innings coverage – Pujols also leads in five-or-more RBI games

Pujols’ five-RBI outing on Tuesday night was his fourth of the 2009 season. That is the most such games in a single season by a Cardinal since at least 1954. In doing so, he broke a tie with himself in 2006 and 2007, Mark McGwire in 1999 and an unlikely name, Joe Hague, in 1970.

Five-or-more RBI games, season – Cardinals (1954-2009)

Year Games
Albert Pujols 2009 4
Albert Pujols 2007 3
Albert Pujols 2006 3
Mark McGwire 1999 3
Joe Hague 1970 3
Ted Simmons 1973 2
Ted Simmons 1980 2
Scott Rolen 2006 2
Edgar Renteria 2003 2
Albert Pujols 2001 2
Albert Pujols 2004 2
Stan Musial 1954 2
Stan Musial 1961 2
Mark McGwire 1998 2
Brian Jordan 1996 2
George Hendrick 1980 2
Pedro Guerrero 1990 2
Ken Boyer 1956 2
Ken Boyer 1961 2

Pujols has now doubled up Big Mac for the most five-or-more RBI games in his Cardinals career with 16.

Five-or-more RBI games, career – Cardinals (1954-2009)

Games
Albert Pujols 16
Mark McGwire 8
Stan Musial 7
Ken Boyer 7
Ted Simmons 6
Scott Rolen 4
Edgar Renteria 4
George Hendrick 4
Jim Edmonds 4
Bill White 3
Willie McGee 3
John Mabry 3
Ray Lankford 3
Brian Jordan 3
Keith Hernandez 3
Joe Hague 3
Pedro Guerrero 3
Curt Flood 3

Thanks to Tom Orf for the data tables.

Cardinals quiz of the day: August 6, 2009


By Brian Walton and Tom Orf

Who is the only St. Louis Cardinal to drive in seven runs in a game without the benefit of a home run?

You might think Albert Pujols. He has collected seven RBI in a single game twice in his career, including April 11 of this year at Busch Stadium against the Houston Astros. However all of Albert’s RBI that day occurred via the long ball as he hit both a grand slam and a three-run home run.

So, who is this player?

He accomplished the odd feat on August 28, 1980 against the Atlanta Braves and he did all the damage during the first four innings. Three of the runs would be charged against former Cardinal closer and current broadcaster Al Hrabosky.

In the bottom of the first inning, this Cardinals left fielder delivered a two-out, two-run double off Doyle Alexander after Keith Hernandez walked and George Hendrick was hit by a pitch to put the Cards up 2-0.

In the second, the Cardinals added three more runs, knocking Alexander out of the game. Hrabosky was brought in and intentionally walked Hendrick to load the bases. Our mystery man, batting fifth that day, delivered a three-run double this time, scoring Hernandez and Hendrick again along with Tony Scott to make it 8-0.

Our hero came up again against Hrabosky in the fourth inning following a walk to Hernandez and a Hendrick double. This time he delivered a two-run single for his sixth and seventh RBI of the day, and advanced to second on the throw home. After going to third on Terry Kennedy’s groundout, he scored the final Cardinal run on a Hrabosky wild pitch to make it 11-0.

His line that day: 5 1 3 7 (AB R H BI)

For the Cardinals, Bob Forsch pitched a complete game in the 11-2 victory.

How many of you came up with the answer?

The player: Dane Iorg. For those interested, here is the link to the box score.