Feb. 19: Q of the Day
Do you think that with the recent upgrades defensively and the surplus of pitching for both the rotation and the bullpen, the Cardinals will be moving in a new direction to a playing style that is more akin to Whiteyball? (Taking into account the fact that they don’t have nearly as much to speak of offensively as they did last decade)
— Asher S., University City, Mo.
The identity of the Cardinals’ offense will fall somewhere in between the extremes of Whiteyball and the early 2000s, when the club bashed its way into the postseason with regularity. Yes, the Cardinals enter 2014 with more speed than it had last year, but that’s not to say the organization has revamped itself to be an elite defensive/baserunning team. Rather, the balance between speed and power is just better.
You look at those Cardinals teams of the 1980s and you will find that none hit more than 94 homers in a season or posted a slugging percentage north of .384. At the same time, from 1982-88, the Cardinals stole at least 200 bases a year. The Cardinals — even if Peter Bourjos reaches his self-set goal of swiping 40 — won’t come near that figure. Kolten Wong offers speed, too, but otherwise the Cardinals do not have legitimate basestealing threats.
This is not a team absent of power, either. That power manifested itself in the form of doubles last season as the club hit 322 doubles, the second-most for the franchise in a single season since the start of the ’80s. The home run total was down (125), but there are at least three projected starters — Matt Holliday, Matt Adams and Allen Craig — who are 20-homer threats. Matt Carpenter, Jhonny Peralta and Yadier Molina could make a push for that number as well. Peralta and Molina have reached it before.
The Cardinals aren’t going to bash their way to a division title. But they won’t run their way to it either. But better balance will give the club an opportunity to find various ways to win on any given night. That can only be seen as a positive.
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