The Cardinals played some really bad baseball this week, going 2-5 since Memorial Day. Bad news: they dropped two games below .500 and are now third in the division. Good news: their next 11 games are against the Reds (4), Phillies (3), and Brewers (4). Now’s the time to get back on track. That said, let’s get into this past week’s StatCap.
Albert Pujols joins the 600 home run club.
Pujols news isn’t really Cardinals news anymore, but the StatCap is celebrating his accomplishment anyways. If you somehow missed the milestone home run, here it is below:
This shot left the bat at 100.5 mph and on a 42.1 degree launch angle. At its peak, it reached 141 feet in the air. At its end, it plummeted almost straight down.
With a 42.1 degree launch angle, this was The Machine’s second-highest home run hit in the Statcast era and his highest of the 2017 season. It was also the highest home run hit by the Angels so far this year. While it was far from the bombs we grew accustomed to seeing during his time in St. Louis, it was majestic nonetheless.
Unfortunately, Pujols is off to a terribly slow start. His 90 wRC+ would be the worst of his career by 21 points. As a whole, his negative 0.3 WAR indicates he’s performing below replacement level. Yet, he still has driven in 42 runs, an RBI total that would lead the Cardinals by 15 runs through June 4th. And while his RBI numbers are helped hitting behind Mike Trout (when healthy), Albert’s still getting the job done when it counts. Check out his 2017 line with RISP, compared to his line from 2002 – 2016 (FanGraph’s splits don’t go back to 2001).
2017: .316/.403/.596 for a 163 wRC+ and 0.55 RBI per plate appearance.
2002 – 2016: .322/.452/.590 for a 158 wRC+ and 0.40 RBI per plate appearance
Long live the machine.
Adam Wainwright, a pitcher who rakes.
Over his last four appearances, Adam Wainwright has tossed 26.1 innings, yielding only one earned run. That’s good for a 0.34 ERA. He has an active 16.1 inning scoreless streak. He’s lowered his season ERA to 3.79, his FIP to 3.31, and raised his fWAR to 1.4. Comparing those numbers to the rest of the Cardinals rotation, Wainwright ranks only fourth by ERA but first in FIP and second in WAR. Pretty good numbers for a guy I called washed up and old all offseason.
Offensively, Wainwright has been one of the Cardinals best hitters when he’s in the lineup. His 123 wRC+ ranks fourth best on the team (min. 10 PA), trailing only Jedd Gyorko, Tommy Pham, and Magneuris Sierra. In his last start, Wainwright smashed his second homer of the season, which moved him into sole possession of third on the active pitcher home run leaderboard.
— cardinalsgifs (@cardinalsgifs) June 1, 2017
Just for fun, I compared Wainwright’s value at the plate to the Chicago Cubs hitters. Using a 10 PA minimum, Adam Wainwright has performed better offensively than every Cub except Kris Bryant and Tommy La Stella. Better than Anthony Rizzo, better than Jason Heyward, and better than Kyle Schwarber. Go figure.
Oh, and if Adam Wainwright was in the Cubs rotation, he’d lead their pitchers in ERA, FIP, and WAR, too.
Dexter Fowler connects for a game winner.
In one of the lone bright spots of the week, Wednesday night saw Dexter Fowler connect on a hanging slider in the bottom of the eighth, a blast which sealed a Cardinals win. At an estimated 429 feet, this dinger was the second longest home run by a Cardinals so far and Fowler’s longest since August 2016.
Overall, though, Fowler still had a tough week. His season 25.6% Pitchf/x out-of-zone swing rate would be the highest of his career. He’s really only been more “chase happy” twice in his career since his first full season in 2009, which you can see in his 50 game rolling O-Swing%.
Keep in mind that the first 49 games of this season include numbers from the end of 2016. The Cardinals played their 50th game on May 31st – at that point, the data point included only 2017 numbers. Fowler’s O-Swing rate on June 1st was 27.0%. As a result, Fowler is walking in only 11.8% of his plate appearances, which would be his lowest rate since 2010.
Fowler does have some things going for him that suggest a rebound should be on the way, namely a .252 BABIP (career rate of .338) despite a career best 38.1% hard contact rate. It’d be hard to imagine Fowler continuing to struggle so much on balls in play. If he starts getting normal batted ball luck, he’ll start looking more like the hitter the Cardinals paid more than $80 million to acquire.
Thanks for reading. Let’s hope we have some better games to watch and analyze coming up this week.