Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 15, 2004
BASEBALL: Card Counting
Few developments have been more surprising over the past month or so than the sudden movement of the Cardinals to put away the NL Central. Not that the division is done for, but some serious countermoves will be required to get the rest of the division back in the game.
With the exception of the Astros, however, the Cards' division rivals haven't played that badly; instead, the Cardinals have just outdone themselves, running their record to 54-33, a .621 clip and a 101-win pace.
Let's look back at my Established Win Shares estimates, compared to the 2004 Win Shares pace for each Cards player (I'll just double them for simplicity):
Adjusted EWSL: 257.0 (86 wins)
Top Win Shares paces for players I didn't list before the season: Kiko Calero (4), Yadier Molina (4), Hector Luna (4), and Mike Lincoln (2). In other words, the Cards are dancing with them that brung 'em.
What jumps out at you, of course, is Rolen, although frankly I'm quite not sure why his numbers (.339/.599/.415) add up to such a staggering total of 20.1 batting Win Shares. When you look up and down the list, most of the rest of the team is pretty much on target, with bench players down from their projections due to reduced playing time and Tony Womack enjoying an unexpected (and unlikely to continue) resurgence at .319/.427/.364. You will also note something I noticed in my earlier EWSL analysis of the NL Central: the Cards' infield is presently right around on pace for the all-time record for Win Shares by one starting infield, which is 119.
The bullpen has also been hot (Ray King has a 1.41 ERA and has been touched for just 22 hits, none of them homers, in 32 innings in 45 appearances, and Steve Kline has a similar line - 42 games, 32 IP, 25 Hits, 1 HR, 1.97 ERA), and the team's biggest preseason question mark (the back end of the rotation, with Chris Carpenter and Jason Marquis a combined 18-8 with ERAs of 3.87 and 3.88 and a combined K/BB ratio of 167/59.
Can they keep it up? That will be the big question for the second half (I remain skeptical of Carpenter, who's had great hot streaks before but shows no sign of being capable of throwing 200+ innings without some serious wear and tear).
UPDATE: I forgot to include the link to Brian Gunn at Redbird Nation, who ran a similar analysis with PECOTA projections.