Cardinals news from a Sabermetric point of view

Cardinals walk off via hit-by-pitch for second time this season

August 20th, 2014 by Pip

Jon Jay helped the Cardinals win their second straight game in their final at-bat last night when he drew a bases-loaded plunking from Reds reliever JJ Hoover. The Cardinals hadn’t had a walk-off hit-by-pitch in more than 25 years, but now — including Greg Garcia back on May 13 — they’ve had two in 2014. It’s not surprising that the two dottings would be to Jay and Garcia: Strictly by percentages, they’re the most likely to be hit. Garcia has been numbered an amazing three times in only 14 career plate appearances; Jay gets hit roughly every 42 plate appearances. Following is a list of walk-off HBPs over the last 25 years:

Date Batter Tm Opp Pitcher Score Inn Out
7/23/89 Wally Joyner CAL DET Brad Havens tied 4-4 b9 1
6/11/91 Alex Cole CLE TOR Ken Dayley tied 1-1 b12 1
8/9/91 Kevin Mitchell SFG LAD Kevin Gross tied 0-0 b13 1
4/23/92 Daryl Boston NYM STL Juan Agosto tied 0-0 b13 1
7/8/92 Rey Sanchez CHC CIN Rob Dibble tied 2-2 b10 1
8/4/93 Mike Bordick OAK SEA Jeff Nelson tied 4-4 b9 1
9/27/93 Gary Gaetti KCR CLE Jerry Dipoto tied 5-5 b9 2
8/30/95 Archi Cianfrocco SDP MON Greg Harris tied 2-2 b9 1
5/1/96 Paul Molitor MIN KCR Jeff Montgomery tied 5-5 b10 1
4/15/97 Tony Womack PIT SDP Sterling Hitchcock tied 2-2 b9 1
6/16/97 Troy O’Leary BOS PHI Ricky Bottalico tied 4-4 b10 2
8/3/97 Luis Gonzalez HOU NYM Greg McMichael tied 2-2 b9 2
8/8/98 Richard Hidalgo HOU PHI Mark Leiter tied 6-6 b9 0
8/20/99 John Flaherty TBD KCR Scott Service tied 4-4 b9 0
9/3/99 Mark Loretta MIL STL Juan Acevedo tied 4-4 b11 0
6/20/01 Eric Karros LAD ARI Erik Sabel tied 3-3 b9 1
7/20/02 Olmedo Saenz OAK TEX Dave Burba tied 5-5 b9 2
7/21/02 Raul Ibanez KCR CLE Heath Murray tied 12-12 b10 2
8/23/02 Paul Lo Duca LAD ATL Kevin Gryboski tied 3-3 b9 1
9/16/05 Manny Ramirez BOS OAK Keiichi Yabu tied 2-2 b10 1
4/5/07 A.J. Pierzynski CHW CLE Roberto Hernandez tied 3-3 b9 0
5/27/07 Juan Pierre LAD CHC Carlos Marmol tied 1-1 b11 0
6/5/08 Paul McAnulty SDP NYM Scott Schoeneweis tied 1-1 b9 1
6/12/08 Reed Johnson CHC ATL Jeff Ridgway tied 2-2 b11 0
7/19/08 Jose Molina NYY OAK Lenny DiNardo tied 3-3 b12 1
9/11/10 Jeff Francoeur TEX NYY Mariano Rivera tied 6-6 b9 1
6/22/11 Justin Turner NYM OAK Brad Ziegler tied 2-2 b13 2
8/9/11 Kosuke Fukudome CLE DET David Pauley tied 2-2 b14 1
8/21/11 Jonny Gomes WSN PHI Brad Lidge tied 4-4 b10 1
4/11/12 Jonny Gomes OAK KCR Jonathan Broxton tied 4-4 b12 2
5/26/12 Matt Hague PIT CHC Rafael Dolis tied 2-2 b9 2
4/11/14 Hank Conger LAA NYM Jeurys Familia tied 4-4 b11 1
5/13/14 Greg Garcia STL CHC Justin Grimm tied 3-3 b12 1
8/19/14 Jon Jay STL CIN J.J. Hoover tied 4-4 b9 0

Six is a serious number, but how serious?

August 13th, 2014 by Pip

Graph: MVP candidates by percentage of team WAR

August 13th, 2014 by Pip

National League American League | Create Infographics

Cardinals-Marlins Series Preview

August 11th, 2014 by Pip

[Originally posted on the Bird's Eye View]

The Cardinals and the Marlins enter their three-game series Monday going in different directions. The Cardinals pulled within two games of the NL Central leading Brewers on Sunday to improve their playoff odds to 54% and look to catch the Brewers against the Marlins, who struggle to maintain relevance in light of their sub-.500 record and 5% playoff odds.

Whereas the Cardinals shook up their clubhouse in recent weeks, the Marlins were quiet as the trade deadline passed, though they will feature a couple of minor staff changes since the Cardinals faced them in July. Righthanded starter Henderson Alvarez, boasting a rotation-leading 3.38 FIP, hit the DL with a shoulder inflammation and will miss the series. Meanwhile, the Marlins recalled former Cardinal Brad Penny from Triple-A to fill in. In addition, infielder Jordany Valdespin has also joined the big club and has displaced Donovan Solano at second base as a left-handed platoon option.

What to watch for

Cardinal second baseman Kolten Wong continues to quietly make his case for Rookie of the Year. He’s fifth among NL rookies with 1.4 WAR. Billy Hamilton will likely win on the strength of his eye-catching defense and 43 stolen bases, but Wong deserves credit for his stolen base rate, swiping 17 and getting nabbed only twice (89%). Hamilton leads the league with 18 caught stealings, a success rate of only 70%. 

Shelby Miller, who starts tonight, may have finally gotten his control problems under, er, control. After averaging five walks per nine innings in his first 19 starts, he has walked only one total batter in his last three, spanning 66 batters.

Nathan Eovaldi has been the Marlins’ most reliable pitcher, leading the staff with 2.2 WAR and 151 innings. The key to his success? Avoiding walks — he boasts the league’s eighth-best walk rate at 1.85 BB/9.

Giancarlo Stanton (4.5 WAR) ranks only fifth in the league in WAR. But look a little more closely and you’ll see how much he mean to his clubs: The next highest WAR is less than half his total, and he accounts for 20% of his team’s total.

Around the horn

The Cardinal offense is slowly but surely picking up the pace, raising its wOBA to .308 (seventh in the league) on the strength of a .331 clip so far in August. The Marlins have fallen to eighth (.307 wOBA) … Jarred Cosart will make his second NL start after arriving from the Astros in a trade … Cosart is second in MLB in ground ball rate (56.8%). First is Dallas Keuchel, his former teammate in Houston … After ranking ninth in MLB with a 19.3% K-BB rate in 2013, Tuesday’s starter Adam Wainwright ranks 29th at 14.8% — the same rate that Justin Masterson posted in 2013. Miller ranked 22nd last year with 15.5%, and John Lackey 21st with 15.6% … the Cardinals are coming off their fifth-longest nine-inning game of the season. Their Sunday getaway game from Baltimore was a plodding 3:39.

Holliday’s ejections and the strike zone

August 6th, 2014 by Pip

As Cardinal fans know, Matt Holliday can sometimes whine after a borderline strike call. On three occasions in his career, according to Chris Tunno, he has been ejected, all for arguing called third strikes, including last night in the seventh inning of the Cardinals’ 3-2 win over the Red Sox. But is it possible that the Cardinal left fielder is justified in his complaining?

Thankfully, MLB Gameday has pitch data to prove it. Let’s visually review the calls that precipitated those ejections:

9/9/10: Cristhian Martinez

6/25/11: Jon Rauch

8/5/2014:  Burke Badenhop

In the 2010 and 2011 ejections, it appears that Holliday had a legitimate beef: Both called third strikes were clearly outside the zone and missed calls by the umpire. In last night’s game, though, the pitch appeared to be on the black. In fact, all three of the strikes in that plate appearance were called, and all three were virtually in the same place. So Holliday may have been expressing his cumulative displeasure with all three of the calls, though, given that all three were close enough to the zone, that hardly excuses him.

Actually, Holliday may have simply not seen any of Burke Badenhop’s pitches well. For a pitcher with a rather nondescript major-league career, Badenhop may be the most effective pitcher in baseball against Holliday. Holliday has struck out in six of his eight plate appearances against the Boston righty, which may help explain Holliday’s irritation. For a player who seemingly has a good command of the strike zone, Holliday appears to be disoriented when it comes to locating Badenhop’s pitches in the strike zone.