The Cardinals are off today. Not me. I type for you!
Time to hit some Fungoes …
1) Lousy weekend in Cincinnati. Cardinals lose two out of three. They still traul Milwaukee in the NL Central by 8 games. Wait, you knew that already. I’m off to a terrible start. But how’s this: In late June, FanGraphs gave the Cardinals a 3.3 percent chance of making the postseason. A month later, that probability is 3.4%. What are the probabilities of a managerial change, or a front-office shakeup? Probably around 1 percent … or less. Chance of me getting fired by Dan McLaughlin? I would put that at about 33 percent.
2) I don’t think barking at umpires and getting ejected qualifies as getting your team fired up. I dismiss the narrative. The Cardinals should have been fired up on Sunday. They had lost two straight to a disliked division rival. They were trying to get out of Cincinnati without being swept in a three-game series. Urgency should be a collective mindset. Urgency should be in a team’s competitive wiring. It isn’t something that’s switched on by umpire-related anger. But if you like managers putting on a show, Mike Shildt came through. I guess.
3) Poor Ron Kulpa. What the hell did Kulpa, this fine St. Louis man, ever do to deserve being sentenced to having C.B. Bucknor on his crew?
4) After beating the Cubs three times in four games last week, the Cardinals failed to build on their success by losing two out of three at Cincinnati. The Cardinals are 1-4-1 in their last six series vs. NL Central brothers. And their record in the six series was 6-14. Scratching and clawing. Right.
5) The starting outfield alignment of Tyler O’Neill, Harrison Bader and Dylan Carlson has provided a rich source of offense in July. This month, among the 15 NL outfields, the Cardinal outfield ranks third in batting average (.279) sixth in OBP (.344), tied for fourth in slugging (.469) and fourth in OPS (.813.) Using park and league adjusted runs created, the STL outfield is 23 percent above the league average offensively for July. For the season the Cards outfield ranks eighth among NL outfield in batting average (.243), 11th in OBP (.316), 10th in slugging (.410), and 10th in OPS (.704.) The outfield is also 13th among 15 with 130 RBI through 100 games.
5a) That healthy set of July outfield numbers was filed despite a .203 average, .686 OPS and 27 percent strikeout rate from Carlson this month. But at least DC is in the process of closing July with a bash; in his last nine games the rookie has five doubles, three homers, 10 RBI and a .622 slug.
5b) In 115 plate appearances as the team’s leadoff man Carlson has a .223 average, .296 OBP, and .423 slug for a .723 OPS. I’m a big fan, but Carlson needs to provide a higher onbase percentage than that.
6) Tyler O’Neill has only two homers and four RBIs this month — but he’s hitting .291 with a .361 OBP and .436 slug. (797 OPS.) If that represents a “slump” or O’Neill’s stats being “down,” well, two things. First, that must make him a helluva hitter if a “down” month is just under .800 OPS with a robust OBP and respectable slugging percentage. And second, yeah, two homers and four RBIS do qualify as “down.” But the overall picture is just fine.
7) Harrison Bader is going bananas. Among NL outfielders with at least 50 plate appearances this month, Harry ranks second in batting average (.362), third in OBP (.421), fourth in slugging (.609) and third in OPS (1.030.) That’s not all; Bader also has five doubles, four homers and ranks tied for third among NL outfielders with 15 RBI. Since returning to the lineup at the beginning of the month Bader is 80 percent above the league average offensively in wRC+.
8) Since June 1, Paul Goldschmidt ranks second among NL first basemen (minimum 100 PA) in batting average (.306), third in OBP (.381), second in slugging (.543), third in OPS (.925.) His 11 homers since June 1 put Goldy tied for second among NL first basemen and he’s fifth with 28 runs batted in. Nearly two months of on-fire hitting. Goldschmidt shouldn’t be taken for granted. Still a terrific player.
9) Nolan Arenado is coming around. In his last six games: eight hits, five for extra-bases including three homers. Plus two walks, five runs and five RBI with a .769 slug and 1.126 OPS. In his final 35 games leading into the All-Star break Arenado batted .242 with a .758 OPS.
10) Cheers for Andrew Knizner. The young catcher might as well sit in the stands and watch games because he hardly ever gets a chance to play. But Yadier Molina’s injury issues put Knizner in the lineup for all three games at Cincinnati. Knizner made the most of it, going 3 for 7 (.429) with six walks, two doubles, two RBI and two runs scored. He reached base on 69.2 percent of his plate appearances at Cincy.
10a) Knizner has started only 26 games this season but when he does start at catcher the Cardinals are 14-12. His catcher ERA for the season is 3.92. Small sample and all of that good stuff. I’m not suggesting that Knizner is better than Molina. Still, it’s hard to make the case that Knizner has hurt the Cardinal cause when he starts. The Cardinals are 36-37 when Molina starts, and Molina has a 4.31 catcher ERA this season.
10b) Knizner’s lack of playing time is laughable … but also very much predictable. He had only 38 plate appearances from May 15 until the All-Star break, which began July 11. And you wonder why Molina, age 39, has been dealing with multiple injuries this season? Knizner, of course, is healthy. He should be, because he catches for the Cardinals about as often as you do, dear reader. With Knizner the only thing hurting is his development. (By the way: Ali Sanchez also started and caught one game for the Cards this season.)
11) Tommy Edman is doing better offensively. In 83 plate appearances since June 29 (21 games) Edman is batting .260 with a .313 OBP and .416 slug for a .729 OPS. When swinging lefthanded over this time (65 plate appearances) Edman is batting .271 with a .338 OBP and .356 slug. The key there is his improving OBP when batting from the left side. In 32 plate appearances as a LH batter since the All-Star break, Edman has a .344 OBP. Not hitting for much power from the left side, though.
12) After two games in Cleveland, the Cardinals won’t play a team that currently has a winning record until Aug. 17. The Cardinals are 30-23 against under-.500 opponents this season. Nice, but hardly dominant. The Cardinals need to show some dominance, real soon.
13) According to the injury-tracking tool at Spotrac, the Cardinals have placed 17 players on the Injured List this season and they’ve missed a combined 805 days. In a 2021 season that surely fits the term “injury plagued” the Cardinals haven’t been hit as hard as many other teams. The 805 days lost? Well, 18 teams have higher counts. The 17 players? Only five teams have had fewer players on the IL than St. Louis this season.
13a) Five of the six MLB division leaders have had more players on the IL than St. Louis. And four of the six have higher days-lost totals than the Cardinals:
- Mets: 30 players, 1,239 days lost
- Giants: 30 players, 1,287 days
- Brewers: 24 players, 1,022 days
- Astros: 26 players,, 1,112 days
- White Sox 18 players, 761 days
- Red Sox, 14 players, 398 days
As always, thanks for reading!
Check out Bernie’s sports-talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen live online and download the Bernie Show podcast at 590thefan.com … the 590 app works great and is available in your preferred app store.
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* All stats used here are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference/Stathead, Bill James Online, Baseball Savant and Brooks Baseball Net unless otherwise noted.
For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.
While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.