Can the Cardinals maintain their current 2013 Wholesale Jerseys pace
Thirtythree games does not a season make, but it is also not so small as to be statistically irrelevant. Thirtythree games into the season the St. Louis Cardinals find themselves in first place in the National League Central Division with a 2112 record. It is good times in Cardinal nation, with fans dreaming that maybe this year the club will not have to rely on an August/September surge to secure a playoff spot. That total would be five more wins than the highest winning team from last year (the Washington Nationals had 98 wins). The club record for wins is 106 in 1942, with the 2004 team (featuring the MV3 of Pujols, Rolen, and Edmonds) winning 105 games. So 103 games is certainly doable, but is it doable this year?
Most analysts would agree the most important ingredient in a winning baseball team www.stpeterschelsea.com/wholesalejerseys.html is starting pitching, and this is certainly where the Cardinals have excelled in 2013. The Cardinals lead Major League Baseball in starting pitching with an insanely low 2.29 ERA, which no serious analyst believes can be realistically sustained over the entire season. Common sense suggests that Jake Westbrook will not end 2013 with his current Bob Gibsonlike 1.62 ERA. Every starting pitcher for the Cardinals is currently sporting an ERA well below their career average.
This is why fans of saber metrics prefer xFIP, a statistical measurement which accounts for fluctuations in homerun percentages, fielding errors, and bad luck and/or good luck with balls in play. The xFIP statistic has been found to be the best predictor of future performance for a pitcher.
The good news for the Cardinal starting pitchers is that their xFIP is still very good, just not as good their ERA. The starters' 3.38 xFIP ranks third in the Majors, behind the Rangers and Tigers. This statistic suggests the starters are due to give up some more homerun balls and suffer from some wellplaced bloop singles, but that they are not going to suddenly become the Houston Astros of starting rotations, who currently have a 6.23 ERA and a 4.75 xFIP.
So looking at starting pitchers the Cardinals will get worse over the next 129 games, but still be very good barring injury.
Let's next turn to the relievers. Any Cardinal fan who has watched a significant amount of games in 2013 knows that the Cardinals could have an even better record if not for the struggles of Mitchell Boggs, Mark Rzepczynksi, and others like Fernando Salas. Cardinals' relievers have earned five losses in the season and their 5.12 ERA is secondworst in Major League Baseball.
The main culprit of the bullpen woes has been a high homerun percentage (1.18 per 9 IP ranking 7th worst in MLB) and a league worst .329 BABIP (Batting Average of Balls in Play). The Cardinal relievers 3.79 xFIP suggests that the homerun rates and BABIP will regress back to the mean over time.
In addition, the Cardinals have made moves to at least temporarily fix their bullpen woes with the demotion of Boggs and Rzepczynksi and the promotion of Carlos Martinez and Seth Maness. As documented by Bernie Mikalsz of The St. Louis PostDispatch, the roster moves have made a tremendous difference even accounting for the small sample size in innings pitched.
So Cardinals fans can anticipate the bullpen performing much better over the next 129 games.
Next let us look at the Cardinals offensive performance thus far in 2013. The Cardinals .323 OnBasePercentage (OBP) ranks 13th in the Majors, their slugging percentage (SLUG) of .387 ranks 20th. The 2012, which featured nearly an identical lineup of hitters, led MLB with a .338 OBP and was 9th with a .421 SLUG. Jon Jay, David Freese, and Allen Craig have all performed significantly below their career averages. The 2012 team scored 4.72 runs pergame. However, despite their worst OBP and slugging numbers, the Cardinals 2013 is average the exact same number of runs pergame (156 runs/33 games = 4.72).
So what explains the apparent paradox? Wholesale Jerseys China
The Cardinals are hitting at a leagueleading .330 rate with runners in scoring position (RISP). So the Cardinals are not getting as many men on base, but when they are on base the Cardinals are hitting them home.
Over time, the Cardinals RISP average will come down significantly towards the league average of .252. However, statistics suggests that the Cardinals OBP and SLUG rates will increase as players like Craig and Jay heat up.
Accounting for those two factors, the Cardinals offense is likely to remain the same over the next 129 games, and may even increase in production later in the year with the addition of players like Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong.
Finally, let us take a look at the Cardinals fielding in 2013. Using the UltimateZoneRating (UZR) system, the Cardinals are a bad fielding team, sporting a 6.7 UZR which ranks 25th in the Majors. The 2012 club ranked 23rd in UZR, and the team is featuring nearly all the same fielders minus Rafael Furcal and Skip Schumaker. If anything, Pete Kozma and Matt Carpenter have been an upgrade defensively at their respective positions this year. The Cardinals, save Yadier Molina, are simply not a very good fielding team. They have not fielded especially well over the first 33 games of 2013, and they will likely not field well over the last 129 games as well.
So, here is a very unscientific formula to predict the Cardinals next 129 games:
Worse Starting Pitching + Much Better Bullpen + The Same Offense + The Same Defense = Slightly Worse Winning Percentage Than the First 33 games Though Still Above .500
Who knows, the offense could score even more runs than 2012 with Oscar Taveras providing a Mike Troutesque boost to the club at some point, and the starting pitching could come close to maintaining their crazy low ERA. If so, the club could keep up their current pace and win 100 games or more.
However, the more likely result is a return to career averages for both hitters and pitchers, which would look something more like a 9097 win team given the hot start. That win total should still be good enough to secure a playoff spot, and perhaps even win the division given the struggles of the Reds this season. And as Cardinals' fans witnessed in 2011, anything can happen once the team makes the playoffs.
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