The Cardinals finished the first half of the season 49-42, which means a lot has gone right. They also find themselves with a 2.5 game lead in the division, which means they’ve had some good fortune as well. As we break for the All-Star Game, just before the final 71 game push to the finish line, now seems a good time to look back on the season to date and hand out some grades for players on the roster.
We’ll do this Bill Simmons Style.
SUSTAINED SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE
Albert Pujols. What else is there to say? He leads the league in HR, RBI, Runs, total bases, walks, on base percentage, slugging percentage, and grand slams. He’s second in batting average, making the first Triple Crown in the NL since 1937 a possibility. There’s no way this team is in contention without him.
Chris Carpenter. Despite a DL stint, he’s exceeded all expectations. WHIP of under 1.00, strikeout to walk ratio of almost 5, ERA under 2.50. With up to 14 starts remaining, he could win 15-16 games this season. Welcome back, Chris.
Ryan Franklin. Twenty-one saves in 22 chances, a WHIP (0.794) as ridiculous as his ERA (0.79). He’s been lights out at the back of the game. Well-deserved All Star selection.
Yadier Molina. Solid at the plate, so solid in fact, he’s been the best hitter on the team not named Pujols. Leads the league in innings caught, and is second in fielding percentage (fangraphs.com doesn’t do UZR for catchers).
PRETTY DAMN GOOD
Adam Wainwright. The ace of this staff. He’s been the horse, and has pitched very well; he’s the only Cardinal starter to have not missed a turn this season. Needs to walk fewer guys, but that’s my only knock his first half performance.
Joel Piniero. Better than his record would indicate. Third best WHIP on the team, doesn’t walk anyone, ERA of 3.20 – he’s been quite solid.
Trever Miller. LaRussa has gone to Reyes more, but Miller’s thrown more innings. Miller’s also been the second best guy out of the pen, with a WHIP of 1.043 and an ERA+ of 179. Despite a rough start to the season, he’s been excellent.
Colby Rasmus. Mid-year favorite for NL Rookie of the Year. Has played the excellent defense we all expected, and his bat has woken up since June 1st. His .807 OPS is third on the team to Pujols and Ludwick
Brendan Ryan. Solidified the short stop position, and has been a reasonable hitter low in the order.
Kyle McClellan. Workhorse of the bullpen. Walks way too many guys (21 in 41 innings).
Ryan Ludwick. Getting hurt set him back. Coming back before he was ready didn’t help. Had been comatose until showing signs of life at Wrigley. Let’s hope the thaw continues.
Skip Schumaker. Solid at the plate, and an adventure at second, which is what we expected out of spring training. Can’t hold that against him.
Kyle Lohse. Started the year like gangbusters, then went into a prolonged funk following the Atlanta game April 28. Just returned from the DL. His start in Chicago wasn’t what we or he wanted. Hopefully his next 14 starts will be better.
Brad Thompson. Let’s face it, Brad is what he is. He’s eaten innings and not complained. His results are what one expects from him. Even with all the runs he’s surrendered in his last 4 starts, by many statistical measures he’s been better than Todd Wellemeyer.
Jason Motte. He’s recovered nicely from Opening Day to be a serviceable reliever.
AT LEAST THEY’RE STILL WILLING TO PAY ME
Todd Wellemeyer. Somehow he’s 7-7 despite walking 4 guys every 9 innings and giving up almost 2 baserunners an inning (1.724). Every time he starts I have to buckle up for the roller-coaster ride.
Joe Thurston. He tries hard, but isn’t great defensively or with the bat.
Chris Duncan. See above. Although we drink more Maalox with him in left field than we do with Thurston at third.
Dennys Reyes. He’s better than Kyle Farnsworth, so that’s something.
Tyler Greene, Nick Stavinoha, Jason LaRue. Meh.
YOU OWE US AN APOLOGY
The rest of the Cardinal bullpen. Chris Perez, Mitchell Boggs, Blaine Boyer, et al, haven’t exactly been lights out. This is probably why two of these guys are no longer with the team, and the other is in AAA.
Rick Ankiel. Can’t hit a breaking ball anymore. Can’t stop swinging at everything.
Khalil Greene, Mark DeRosa. Both currently on the DL. One we hope to see in August, the other I don’t expect to see again this season.