(St. Louis – May 17, 2010)
For the first time in almost a year the St. Louis Cardinals are not in first place in the National League’s Central Division. Most baseball fans, including myself, thought the Cards were capable of holding first place all season long. But an offense that is almost non-existent on same days, has helped give up our hold on the division lead.
Coming into the season the Cards had some concerns. One of them wasn’t producing runs. A team with Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, and Ryan Ludwick in the middle of it should be able to score 3+ runs on any given day. That hasn’t been the case this year.
When Mark McGwire was hired as our hitting coach. He had never been a coach before, but here in St. Louis, we are quick to back anyone that Tony La Russa says is good. After the distraction of steroids subsided, Big Mac could focus on baseball alone.
Opening Day saw the redbirds score 11 runs. That type of offensive explosion on the first day of the season gave Cardinal Nation hope that our offense would produce all the time. To this point, this hasn’t been the case.
Under McGwire the Cardinals have an offense that stands 4th in strikeouts, 11th in average and 12th in runs. Even the great Albert Pujols has been striking out more often than usual. The Cards are 3-10 in games when we fail to score atleast 3 runs and 4-9 when the pitchers give up more than 2 runs.
Paralyzation by Over-Analyzation
Big Mac thinks the team might be relying too much on video and not trusting their own skills enough.
“There is so much information out there today, which I personally think takes away from trusting your ability,” McGwire says. “Instead, (they’re) trusting numbers and percentages instead of believing in themselves. The game is so different from nine years ago. Hitters today believe a pitcher is going to throw a certain pitch in a certain count and in a certain sequence. They like to sit on pitches. I’m more apt to look in a certain location.” – St. Louis
I personally can’t say I have any better guess than McGwire does right now. Pujols and company need to be more patient at the plate and go from there. Mechanically I don’t know if they are opening up too early during the swing but I can tell you from watching games that the guys with the birds and bat on their chests have expanded their strike zones way too much. It’s good to be aggressive but it’s better to be smart at the plate.
Many “experts” say that the 40 game mark of the season is the first point at which you see the true personality of team. I sure hope this team hasn’t shown its personality just yet.