After failing to get a hit in his last 18 at-bats over five games, Paul Goldschmidt’s batting average plummeted to .203 on the season. Put that with a .297 onbase percentage and a sickly .273 slugging percentage, and we’ve witnessed the worst 34-game stretch of Goldschmidt’s 14-year career.

That’s right. This isn’t about Goldy’s performance in the first 34 games of a season. This is about any 34-game sample contained in one season. This year his .570 OPS and 30 percent strikeout rate in 34 games are indicative of his alarming performance.  Before now, Goldschmidt has never had an OPS lower than .640 through any 34-game period.

Last season Goldschmidt had several poor stretches that spanned 34 games … but nothing this bad. By the way: the Cardinals have played 35 games but Goldy had one day off. That’s why I refer to 34 games as the correct span for him. But it’s legitimate to have age-related concerns linked to Goldschmidt’s downturn in 2024. Goldy’s hard-hit rate has gradually increased this season but he’s managed to barrel only four pitches. The alarm bells keep ringing.

And then there’s Nolan Arenado. He’s hit very well over his last two 22 games, batting .313 with a .398 OBP and .450 slug. And that should be recognized. Based on OPS+, Arenado and catcher-DH Willson Contreras have been the team’s two best hitters in 2024. This Arenado isn’t peak Arenado … but he’s been helping the team offensively and defensively.

You’d just like to see more muscle on the offensive end. Arenado has two homers in 133 at-bats over the first 35 games, and that isn’t what he wants. During his 12 MLB seasons, Arenado has rarely homered fewer than three times over a 35-game cycle. But it happened late last season, with two homers during a stretch that covered parts of August and September.

And now it’s happened again early in 2024: two homers over 35 games. In June of last season, Arenado popped 12 homers during a 35-game rampage. That wasn’t too long ago. So is his age (33) an issue? Or is this just something to do with mechanics and approach?

In his first three seasons as a Cardinal, Arenado was an extremely dangerous hitter when pulling fly balls to left field. He did that 263 times over the three years, and 80 of his drives went over the wall for a home run. Arenado batted .400 with a 1.418 slugging percentage when pulling a pitch into the sky in left. Boom.

This season Arenado has only 10 pulled fly balls and one homer on them. His batting average on those drives is .200. His slugging percentage is .600. (Which sounds awesome … but it’s not. Pull-side power usually results in a much higher slugging rate.)

Arenado has hit 15 fly balls to the opposite field this season – five more than to his pull side – and doesn’t have a hit. In fact, Arenado has never homered to the opposite field in his three-plus seasons as a Cardinal. This is very strange. Pulling the ball less, and going to the opposite field more frequently isn’t a formula for success.

Goldschmidt also has a pull problem. In his first five seasons as a Cardinal, Goldschmidt had 174 pulled fly balls in 156 games. Those swings produced 69 home runs and a 1.787 slugging percentage.

This year Goldy has pulled just five airborne baseballs, and has one homer to show for it. That isn’t enough. He needs more pull shots.

Since the start of last season, when Goldschmidt hits a fly ball to the opposite field, the outcome is small stuff. On 70 opposite-field flies he has four homers and a .386 slugging percentage. This season he’s 0 for 13 when hitting a pitch into the opposite field air space. Goldschmidt has done a little better on fly balls hit to center … but not much.

This is pretty basic information.

This season, the overall MLB slugging percentage on pulled fly balls is a whopping 1.383, and hitters have homered every 3.3 at-bats when doing so.

The Cardinals have pulled the ball into the air only 54 times this season – fewest in the majors. But the results are there when the St. Louis hitters pull fly balls – namely a 1.111 slugging percentage and a homer every 4.1 at-bats.

As I’ve noted before, the Cardinals hit too many fly balls to the opposite field. But these efforts are a disaster: 158 opposite-field fly balls, one homer, and a .190 slug.

How smart is this group of hitters?

Not very.

ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT: The Cardinals are 15-20, and their .429 winning percentage is tied for 23rd overall and 12th in the National League … the 2023 Cardinals were 11-24 (.314) through the first 25 games … St. Louis has won only six of 16 home games for a haggard .375 winning percentage that’s near the bottom of the majors …. STL’s minus 33 run differential is the seventh worst in the majors.

STATE OF THE OFFENSE: Still bleak. Very bleak. Including the series opening loss to the Mets the Cardinals have scored three runs or fewer 22 times in 35 games. That’s tied for the most in the majors. And the impact on the team’s record is obvious; the Cardinals are 6-16 when scoring fewer than four runs in a contest … The Redbirds have crossed the plate three times or fewer in six of their last eight games. No surprise, but they’re 2-6 in those games … the Cardinals’ average of 3.46 runs per game is 29th overall and last in the NL … Overall, the Cards have hit the fewest home runs in the majors (23), rank 29th in slugging percentage (.332), 29th in OPS (.625), 27th in batting average (.215), 26th in onbase rate (.293) … St. Louis ranks 27th with a .201 batting average with runners in scoring position.

SHOOTING BLANKS: In their last eight games the Cardinals have failed to score a run in 63 of their 74 innings.

HOME RUN FAMINE: As noted, the Cardinals have the fewest homers in the majors so far in 2024. Here are some other details that show us more about the severity of the problem:

* The Cardinals have scored only 38 runs on homers in their first 35 games. The 38 runs are the fewest in the majors via the home run. Of the 30 MLB teams, 21 have 50 or more runs on homers, and 12 have at least 60 runs on HRs.

* The Cardinals have homered only six times in 573 plate appearances this season from the sixth inning through the end of the game. No team has fewer home runs than St. Louis from the 6th inning on. And the Cardinals have scored only nine runs on their six “late” home runs.

* In 415 plate appearances from the 7th inning until the game concludes, the Cardinals have only four homers that produced six runs.

* The Cardinals have not homered in the eighth inning this season. That encompasses 149 plate appearances in the 8th.

The Cardinals’ meager power in the later innings is a large reason for their 3-6 record in one-run games and 1-4 mark in extra-innings contests this season.

KYLE GIBSON: The tenacious and likable righthander provided six innings for the Cardinals on Monday and was charged with two earned runs. Gibson went at least 6 IP in all seven starts for the Cardinals.

In his last four starts, Gibson has given up five earned runs in 25 innings for a 1.80 ERA. This good stretch has dropped his season ERA to 3.68. Gibson has pitched to 102 batters over his last four starts and has limited them to one homer, a .214 batting average and .575 OPS. Gibson also has a respectable 21.5 percent strikeout rate in his last four assignments.

Through the close of business Monday, Gibson was the only starting pitcher in the majors with seven starts of 6+ innings in 2024. He also ranks tied for eighth in the majors with five quality starts. That’s as many as Dylan Cease and Logan Webb and one more than Aaron Nola and Corbin Burnes.

STARTING ROTATION: THE GREAT DIVIDE. Since Sonny Gray made his first start of the season on April 9, Cardinals starting pitchers have a 3.73 ERA which ranks 13th in the majors. But there’s quite a gap in quality. Since April 9 Gray, Gibson, Lance Lynn and Matthew Liberatore have collectively pitched to a 2.15 ERA in 16 starts. Miles Mikolas and Steven Matz have collectively pitched to a 7.51 ERA in eight starts.

A CHECK ON THE DEFENSE: The Cardinals have a .694 defensive efficiency rating. That means they’ve converted 69.4 percent of the balls in play into outs. Last season the Cardinals had a .670 defensive efficiency rating that was the worst by the franchise in a season since 1930. The 2024 Cardinals have seven defensive runs saved which is 12th in the majors and 4th in the NL.

NICE CALL-UP: Infielder Jose Fermin deserved a promotion from Triple A Memphis after hitting .350 with a 1.108 OPS in 18 games. Manager Oli Marmol put Fermin at the top of the lineup Monday and the second baseman responded with two hits and a run scored. He’s 3 for 10 since joining the big club at Detroit on April 30. I ain’t saying Fermin is Joe Morgan. It’s just good to see him have a good game. The Cardinals aren’t getting many good games from their hitters.

THE OUTFIELD REVISITED: Dylan Carlson, who returned from the IL on Sunday, went 0 for 7 in his first two games of the regular season. And since Lars Nootbaar was activated from the IL on April 12, he’s batting .175 with an OPS+ that’s 39 percent below league average offensively. Oof.

Counting only the plate appearances that came when a hitter was put in the lineup as an outfielder (no DH), the St. Louis outfield continues to be cursed … and draw curses from the fans.

Through Monday, the St. Louis outfield group ranked last in the majors in batting average (.186), homers (4), slugging percentage (.290) and OPS (.550). And St. Louis outfielders were next to last in RBIs (32) and onbase percentage (.260).

Since the start of the 2002 season, using wRC+ as a measure, St. Louis outfield had never finished worse than three percent below league average offensively in a full season. This season their outfielders are 39 percent below league average offensively in wRC+. There is no end to the ludicrously bad statistics that define this team’s 2024 offense.

WALK THIS WAY. OR DON’T: The Cardinals had the 11th highest walk rate in the majors (9.1%) during the opening month but are 21st in May with a walk rate of 7.3 percent. That’s one of the problems with a decreasing onbase percentage that was already bad in the first month (.295) but is horrendous (.249) in May.

NOLAN GORMAN: Stuck in a 1 for 17 slump that had five strikeouts, he was given a reset over the last two games with the White Sox (Sunday) and Mets (Monday) starting lefthanders. Gorman didn’t appear. This season Gorman has a 70 OPS+ that’s 30 percent below league average. Last season Gorman’s OPS+ was 17 percent above league average, so his current level represents a drop of 47 points.

JORDAN WALKER: I don’t know what he’s working on at Triple A Memphis. But since the Cardinals demoted him, Walker has gone 6 for 29 (.240) with two extra base hits (both doubles) and a weak .320 slugging percentage.

Thanks for reading …


A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie hosts an opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. Friday. Stream it live or access the show podcast on or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

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For weekly Cards talk, listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast with Will Leitch and Miklasz via or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

Stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Baseball Prospectus, Sports Info Solutions, Spotrac and Cot’s Contracts unless otherwise noted.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 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. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, 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.