Here’s a tip of the ol’ ball cap to Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, the one constant you can count over a long regular season. It doesn’t matter if the Cardinals are winning or skidding, Goldy will put up elite numbers offensively, run the bases with instinctive skill, and save runs with his underrated defense.

In winning the NL MVP award in 2022, Goldschmidt has the best OPS+ of his career at 79 points above the league average. This season with the Cardinals enduring tough times, Goldy has posted a 165 OPS+ that’s 65 percent league average and would be the third-best of his career.

Goldschmidt turns 36 in September but there’s no sign of decline. He ranks in the 98th percentile for average exit velocity and hard-hit rate. He’s in the 93rd percentile for barrel rate. His defense – measured by outs above average – is in the 93rd percentile.

Going into Tuesday’s game at Wrigley Field, Goldschmidt is tied for third in the NL in WAR (1.7), ranks fifth in slugging and OPS, is seventh in batting average and eighth in onbase percentage. Using park-and-league adjusted runs created (wRC+) is the third-best in the NL behind Sean Murphy and Luis Arraez.

Sunday at Busch Stadium, Goldschmidt rescued the Cardinals from another gloomy defeat by hitting three home runs and driving home four RBI. He ended the team’s eight-game losing streak, and that carried over to a 3-1 win over the Cubs on Monday.

This is a long way of saying that the Cardinals and their fans are fortunate to have Paul Goldschmidt in place, doing some of his finest work to lift the Cardinals from the abyss.

ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT: The Cardinals, 12-24, are tied for 28th overall in winning percentage (.333) and still have the worst record in the NL despite winning two in a row … FanGraphs gives St. Louis a 13.1 percent chancre to win the division and a 21.6% shot of making the playoffs … Clay Davenport lists the Cards with a 2.97% chance of taking the division and a 21.6% crack at reaching the postseason …the Cardinals’ 12-24 start puts them tied for third with the 1973 Cardinals for the worst start through 36 games. The only teams worse than that through 36 were the 1903 and 1907 Cardinals, both of whom were 10-26 for a .278 win percentage … The Cubs are tapering off, having gone 6-12 since winning 11 of their first 17 games.

LOOKING AT LARS NOOTBAAR: He’s making headway. In Monday’s 3-1 win over the Cubs, Nootbaar walked twice and scored two of the team’s three runs. For the season Nootbaar has a 133 OPS+ that makes him 33 percent above league average offensively. That’s better than his overall 127 OPS+ last season.

The best part: Nootbaar’s work as a leadoff man. In 46 plate appearances batting first for the Cardinals this season Nootbaar has a .333 average, .438 onbase percentage, .407 slug and is 45% above league average in adjusted runs created. Since the start of 2022, Nootbaar has a .384 OBP and .452 slug as the team’s leadoff hitter. And his walk rate over that time is an excellent 17 percent.

NOLAN GORMAN CHECK-IN: His overall season is healthy and positive, but the second-year slugger has batted only .154 with a .231 slugging percentage in 44 plate appearances since April 24. He’s struck out at a rate of 27 percent over that time with a 13% swing-miss rate.

MASYN WINN IS COMING ON STRONG: The heralded shortstop needed time to adjust in his first exposure to Triple A pitching. But in his last 12 games for Memphis, the 21-year-old Winn is hitting .353 with a .468 slug and 1.095 OPS. His hot streak includes a triple, four homers, eight RBI, 10 walks and three steals.

APPRECIATION FOR PAUL DEJONG: There’s no reason to complain about his presence on the roster. In 40 plate appearances since being activated from the IL on April 23, Pauly is batting .324 with a .375 onbase percentage and .568 slug. He has a .943 OPS, a reasonable 22.5% walk rate, and five of his hits have gone for extra bases.

I don’t know how many people realize this, but since rejoining the Cardinals, DeJong ranks second in batting average, slugging and OPS and is third in onbase percentage. Masyn Winn may take over at shortstop or another position next season, but that does nothing to change my appreciation for DeJong’s contributions so far in 2023.

IN PRAISE OF ANDREW KNIZNER: The catcher-related controversy hasn’t bothered Knizner. In his last four games he’s 4 for 13 (.308) with two doubles and a homer. And during the current two-game winning streak Steven Matz and Miles Mikolas combined to allow two earned runs in 9.1 innings when working with Knizner. They have to go deeper into starts but the quality of the pitching was pretty good. In his last five starts Mikolas has a 2.96 ERA and has allowed only three homers in 27.1 innings.

THIS ANNOYING TWO-STRIKE THING: The poor pitching performance in two-strike scenarios is a real problem for the Cardinals in 2023. But what’s being overlooked – for the most part – is the No. 1 contributing factor: strikeouts. Compared to the starting pitches, the St. Louis relievers are significantly more effective in two-strike counts. That’s because the bullpen guys miss bats, pile up strikeouts, reduce the number of balls in play and limited home runs. That said, the bullpen has had its own problems with two-strike counts, but it isn’t nearly as bad as the starters.

Two-Strike Counts:

Starters: 37% strikeout rate (sixth worst), a .259 batting average and .415 slugging percentage by opponents. Plus a home-run rate of 1.4 homers allowed per nine innings.

Relievers: 49.7% strikeout rate (third best) and a .159 average and .273 slug by opponents. The relievers allow homers at a rate – 0.7 per nine innings – that’s 50 percent less than the starters.

A high rate of swings and misses. Heavy strikeout punch. Fewer balls in play. Less damage. Fewer instances of “bad luck” on batted balls in play.

The STL starting pitchers have a collective 20.4 percent strikeout rate that ranks 23rd in the majors. And their swinging-strike rate is 9.3% which ranks 27th.

The STL relievers rank third in the majors with a 27.4% strikeout rate and are fourth best in swinging-strike percentage (12.7%.)

The Cardinals do not have a swing-miss, strikeout-rich starting rotation. They do not miss many bats.

This “mystery” is not that complicated.

JACK FLAHERTY: He starts for the Cardinals tonight. The spotlight is on, and it’s glaring after Thursday’s awful start in which he was busted for 10 earned runs. Show us what you got, Jack.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie invites you to listen to his sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS-AM. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at or the 590 app.

Follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

Listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast on the Cardinals, featuring Will Leitch and Miklasz. It’s available on your preferred podcast platform. Or follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Baseball Savant, Bill James Online and Baseball Prospectus.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

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.