St. Louis Cardinals 2013 Season in Review: Top Five Stories

2013 was another great year for the our beloved St. Louis Cardinals. Despite facing an incredible amount of adversity, they were still just two wins away from their 12th World Series title. Well, as part of our end-of-the-year project for the United Cardinal Bloggers, this post will be dedicated to bringing you my top five stories of 2013. Here we go:

stltoday.com

stltoday.com

5. The Emergence of Rookie Pitchers. Jason Motte went down before the season. Jaime Garcia required season-ending surgery after a handful of starts. Jake Westbrook pitched injured for much of the season.

Rookies–Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Kevin Siegrist, Michael Wacha, Seth Maness, and Carlos Martinez–became key contributors to the pitching staff. Throughout 2013, other rookies–Tyler Lyons, Keith ButlerJohn Gast, Sam Freeman, and Michael Blazek–had roles of their own as well. Considering only one of the 10 listed were traded (Blazek), fans can expect much from this group in 2014.
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Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

4. Matt Carpenter‘s Breakout Season. Carpenter filled two glaring team-needs in 2013 by taking over as the everyday second baseman and leadoff hitter. According to Fangraphs, he had the third highest WAR in the National League at 7.0. He made his first All-Star team and finished fourth in NL MVP voting.

With David Freese now in Los Angeles, Carpenter will return to his natural position at third base. Ideally, by the end of the 2014, this doubles machine will be moved down to the two-spot in the lineup, but that will be a direct result of the performances of Kolten Wong and Peter Bourjos.
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Photo Credit: USATSI

Photo Credit: USATSI

3. Yadier Molina‘s Brilliance was Ever Present. As I stated in story #5, the pitching staff was largely dominated by rookies. It is hard to fathom how 2013 would have gone without Molina’s presence behind the plate. He was a calming presence for the young arms and was the mentor they needed to get through the long, grueling season.

Molina remained one of the best defensive catchers in the league–winning his sixth straight Gold Glove Award. His offense picked up yet again–leading to a .319/.359/.477 slash line. Putting all of 2013 together, Molina finished third in NL MVP voting and moved one step closer to being known as one of the best catchers to ever play.
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Photo Credit: AFP

Photo Credit: AFP

2. The Cardinals Win the Pennant! The Cardinals Win the Pennant! The Pittsburgh Pirates were the “sexy” pick by the national media to win the National League in 2013. However, Wacha and Adam Wainwright had other plans–allowing just two total runs in Games 4 and 5 of the NLDS.

They moved on to face the big bad, $220+ million-payroll Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS. They won the series in six games with two wins from Lance Lynn and two wins from Wacha over the best pitcher on the planet, Clayton Kershaw.

They ended up losing the World Series to the Boston Red Sox in six games, but for the purpose of this post, let’s just focus on the positives.
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1. Stan Musial. On January 19, 2013, the greatest Cardinal to ever live passed away. I would love to write a paragraph embracing just what Stan meant to the Cardinals and the city of St. Louis, but I really could not do him justice.

However, the lovely ladies over at Aaron Miles‘ Fastball constructed the perfect post to check out because it contains links to article from across the Web about The Man.

Thank you, Stan Musial. I may not have been able to see you play, but your impact on the Cardinals and the city of St. Louis will last forever. Because of this, I feel like Stan was the only choice for the #1 spot on my list.

Until next time…

Joe

For more updates, follow me on Twitter: @stlCupofJoe or Facebook: stlCupofJoe’s Sports Page

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Unfair to Judge Kolten Wong Based on 2013 Performance

Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images

With the trade of David Freese to the Los Angeles Angels, the second base starting job appears to belong to Kolten Wong going into the 2014 season. Wait, for real?! But he hit just .153 and had an on-base percentage less than .200 last season! He struck out in nearly 20% of his plate appearances and had only one extra base hit! What are the Cardinals thinking? Trading away the hometown hero in order to free up space for a rookie that looked completely over-matched at the plate last season. Sheesh!

To be blunt, judging Wong’s hitting performance during his short stint with the Cardinals last season is unfair. Completely unfair. 59 at-bats with 25% of them occurring in the pinch-hitting role is not enough to get a grasp of Wong’s ability at the plate. To be frank, Wong didn’t even have enough time to get used to big league pitching in so few at-bats with a good amount of them coming from off the bench.

Thus, I will battle the small sample size argument many have against Wong with a small sample size rebuttal of my own. Hypocritical? Sure, but with 59 total major league at-bats to choose from, it is the best I can do at this time. Soon after his call-up, from August 18th through August 20th, Wong received three straight starts and performed quite well. To be honest, I don’t know why this performance didn’t merit more starts down the stretch. He had five hits in 14 at-bats (.357 batting average) with two runs scored and three stolen bases in as many attempts.

Wong has hit at every level in his minor league career. Last year for Triple-A Memphis, Wong had 412 at-bats and hit .303 with 21 doubles, eight triples, 10 home runs, and 45 RBIs. Had had a solid .369 on-base percentage and was 20/21 on stolen bases. Wong’s average minor league season since being drafted two and a half years ago? .301 batting average with 24 doubles, seven triples, 10 home runs, and 50 RBIs. That’s a sign of quality bat that I cannot wait to see get regular plate appearances at the big league level.

Defense and Base-Running:

With Wong in the starting lineup, the team is better both on defense and on the base paths. Despite not being called up until mid-August, Wong was fifth on the team in stolen bases with three. He averaged 20 stolen bases per season in the minors which would have been 10 more than the highest on the Cardinals this season.

Though Matt Carpenter performed admirably at second base this season, Wong is the better defender at the position. Unlike Carpenter, second is Wong’s natural defensive position. This past season, he was voted the best defensive second baseman in the Pacific Coast League (Triple-A)–an honor voted on by the managers. In the big leagues, his UZR/150 was 16.3 while Carpenter’s was -2.0. I know I made a case against small sample sizes earlier in this post, but I am a firm believer that a prospect’s glove carries over to the big leagues much more quickly than his bat, so this is a good sign.

Also, by Wong taking over at second base, it can move Carpenter back over to his natural position of third base. Carpenter’s UZR/150 at third base is 4.7, while Freese’s was a dismal -4.8. Thus, by having Wong at second and Carpenter back at third, 2014’s infield defense is already much better than last year’s–to a tune of 27.8 UZR/150. This will be especially important due to the decline in defense with Jhonny Peralta at short instead of Pete Kozma.

Finally, if you believe in projections (and I know a lot of people do not), Steamer of Fangraphs projects Wong to hit .269 with 26 doubles, five triples, eight home runs, 57 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases next season. This is a solid season for the rookie, and it shows the statisticians believe in his ability despite last season’s poor performance.

In conclusion, will Wong have a breakout performance at the plate like Carpenter did in 2013? Probably not, but the combination of having Wong at second and Carpenter at third will make the Cardinals much better at the plate, in the field, and on the base paths than they were this season.

I cannot wait to see more defensive plays like this gem from Game 3 of the World Series.

Until next time…

Joe

For more updates, follow me on Twitter: @stlCupofJoe or check me out on Facebook: stlCupofJoe’s Sports Page.

P.S. I just noticed that the great Bernie Miklasz published an article of his own on Wong just a couple hours before this one, but I want to assure you that I had this post in mind long before I saw that he wrote one.

Matt Carpenter’s MVP-like Hitting Performance in 2013

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Introduction and Some Statistics:

Back on May 29th of this season, I wrote an article highlighting why I thought Matt Carpenter deserved to be considered for the MVP award. Sure, it was only 200 or so at-bats into his season at the time, but nearly 400 at-bats later, he has kept up this MVP-like pace at the plate.

In 573 at-bats, Carpenter is hitting .319 (5th in the  NL) with a .390 on-base percentage (8th in the NL). Of his 183 hits, 50 of them have been doubles (most in NL), and seven have been triples (5th in the NL). He has 67 extra-base hits on the season–just one behind Reds slugger, Jay Bruce. He leads the NL in runs scored with 116 (next closest has 101), and lastly, he is first among NL lead-off hitters with 72 RBIs.

To provide a lasting impression on voters for his 2013 MVP campaign, Carpenter is having a torrid September–hitting .373 with seven doubles and two triples thus far. He is on pace for 199 hits–the most by a Cardinals player since Albert Pujols in 2003. Oh, and he also holds the record most hits in a season at the current Busch Stadium with 109 and counting.

Let’s take a quick look at two sabermetric stats–WAR and wRC+. Carpenter is third in the NL with 6.2 WAR–second is Carlos Gomez with 6.3 and first is Andrew McCutchen with 7.5. He is tied for seventh with Freddie Freeman of the Braves with a wRC+ of 146 (anything above 120 is considered “excellent”).

Breaking Down His Approach:

Carpenter has been one of the most patient hitters in the NL in 2013. He is averaging 4.09 pitches per plate appearance–sixth most in the NL. One of the main reasons he has been able to be so successful with this patient approach is his ability to hit when behind in the count.

Carpenter has had 112 at-bats (19.5% of his ABs) this season with an 0-2 count. One would think this would largely favor the pitcher. This is not the case with Carpenter. In those at-bats, he is hitting .330 with 13 doubles, three home runs, and 11 RBIs. After a 1-2 count, another count that largely favors the pitcher, Carpenter is hitting .306 with 15 doubles, four home runs, and 18 RBIs.

For perspective, I compared Carpenter’s average after 0-2 counts to NL MVP front-runner, Andrew McCutchen, to see just how good he has been. Well, in nearly the same amount of at-bats, McCutchen is hitting .171 after 0-2 counts–159 points lower than Carpenter. After a 1-2 count, McCutchen is hitting .234–72 points lower than Carp.

Carpenter simply does not swing and miss at very many pitches. According to BrooksBaseball.net, he has faced 2,658 pitches in 2013 and has just 120 whiffs–a measly 4.5%. That means that he can make contact on just about any pitch–in the zone or out of the zone. He does not only make contact on almost every pitch, but he makes solid contact as well. Let’s take a look at his heat-map with the batting averages listed for each pitch location:

CarpAverages

The Swing Itself:

Have you ever found yourself rewinding the DVR to take a look at Carpenter’s swing after one of his doubles and said, “Man, that swings looks awfully familiar…” Well, if you have, I have the answer for you in the form of a .GIF from Chris O’Leary, a hitting mechanics expert.

.GIF Credit: Chris O'Leary

.GIF Credit: Chris O’Leary

Yep, that is St. Louis native and Phillies slugger, Ryan Howard. O’Leary had been following Carpenter since 2010 and thought so highly of his swing that he took the time to compare it to other major league hitters.

In 2012, O’Leary created the above .GIF and had this to say about Carpenter, “I think he has significant potential.” Yes, Mr. O’Leary, you were right, Carpenter clearly has “significant potential.” Somebody needs to give this guy a raise. He had it figured out that Carpenter was going to be a successful big league hitter long before any of us.

The one major thing different between their two swings is that Carpenter has a lot less holes in his–as shown by the heat-map above and the following statistic. Howard is averaging just over 140 strikeouts per season in his career while Carpenter is on pace for just 96 this season.

Conclusion:

Will Carpenter win the NL MVP? Most likely not. The “sexier” pick right now is McCutchen who has helped provide Pittsburgh with their first winning season since 1992 (I was only two years old!). One could argue (including myself earlier in the season) that Yadier Molina is deserving as well–considering he has handled a rookie-dominated pitching staff and the fact that the team struggled with him on the disabled list.

However, Carpenter’s performance this season has definitely put him in the conversation. Just think if more runners had been on for his barrage of doubles this season. He would be nearing 100 RBIs from the lead-off spot–something that has not been done since Jacoby Ellsbury in 2011 who had 97 RBIs while batting lead-off (105 RBIs total).

If we want to break down the name of the award–Most Valuable Player–a little more, then it is clear who is most deserving. It is apparent that both Carpenter and McCutchen have been of utmost value to the success of their respective teams. However, Carpenter comes at a price of just $504,000 this season while McCutchen is making $4.5 million. After looking at those contracts, who really is more valuable? I know that contracts are not taken into consideration when it comes to the voting, I just like bringing that up.

Until next time…

Joe

P.S. I know I wrote about how Yadier Molina was the MVP of the first-half, but his second-half injury hurt his case for the overall MVP in my opinion.

For more updates, follow me on Twitter: @stlCupofJoe

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2013 St. Louis Cardinals Should Hit the Pitcher Eighth Like in 2011

Photo Credit: Chris Lee/St. Louis Post Dispatch

Photo Credit: Chris Lee/St. Louis Post Dispatch

With just 24 games remaining in the 2013 regular season, the St. Louis Cardinals should imitate some of Tony La Russa’s 2011 lineups by having the pitcher hit eighth.

Now, before you shake your head in disagreement and close your browser, please let me at least explain myself here.

Disregarding what happens tonight considering the Cardinals have had past success against Bronson Arroyo, the current lineup is broken. The Cardinals have been shut out in three of their last 10 games. The offense is averaging just 2.9 runs scored per game during that span.

A lineup that consists of Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, and Allen Craig should be scoring much more than 2.9 runs per game no matter how good the pitching has been. Sadly, this low average of 2.9 is inflated by four games in which they scored six, six, seven, and eight. The other six were either shutouts or two runs or less. Thus, it would be much nicer for the team to score four to six runs per game instead of scoring them in bunches or not many at all.

Well, one thing that is not broken is M. Carpenter’s bat. He has a .318 batting average with two doubles in the last seven days. However, during this same time frame, he has just one RBI–one measly RBI. As a lead-off hitter, this is not really his fault so what can the Cardinals do?

I propose moving the pitcher to the eighth spot and putting a batter that is more capable of getting on-base in the ninth spot. Sure, the team’s hitters that have occupied the eighth spot have been Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso, and they have not been getting on-base much lately either.

Thus, I propose putting Jon Jay or Kolten Wong in the 9th spot instead. Both Jay and Wong are in funks of their own, but I feel like Cardinal Nation would think that these two have a better chance at getting on base than Kozma, Descalso, or the pitcher at this time. If the 9th spot is getting on base more often, M. Carpenter will have more chances to knock in runners–he won’t go a full week of games with just one RBI.

Upon proposing the idea on Twitter, Bob Netherton of @CardinalTales gave me a solid idea of his own. Why not move M. Carpenter to the two-spot and have Wong bat lead-off? Like Bob, I am a huge fan of K. Wong, and with his speed, I see him as the lead-off hitter of the future for the Cardinals.

However, like I said earlier in this blog post, one of the few things that is not broken right now is M. Carpenter’s bat. Because of this, I would not mess with it. The approach a batter takes to the lead-off spot is vastly different than the approach taken from the two-spot. Would Carp be able to handle the difference? Sure he could, but like I said, I don’t really want to mess with something that has had an All-Star performance all season.

Will Mike Matheny do something this drastic? Most likely not. He is a traditional manager that is relatively new to the role. However, it is definitely something worth considering. Will tweaking the lineup the way I proposed magically fix everything? Maybe not, but with the way the team has been performing on offense, I say it is worth a shot.

In the meantime, Let’s Go Cards!

Until next time…

Joe

For more updates, follow me on Twitter: @stlCupofJoe

Official member of the STLSportsMinute Network

St. Louis Cardinals: Statistical Snippets for 2013

Photo Credit: Jeff Lewis Photography

Photo Credit: Jeff Lewis Photography

Struggling to find a quality topic for a full blog post, I decided to compose a post of 13 random statistical snippets regarding the 2013 St. Louis Cardinals. The snippets are numbered, but they are in no particular order.

Here we go…

1. As of today (August 25th), Pete Kozma has not had a hit in 23 at-bats. Yet, somehow, this is not his longest slump of the season. From June 26th through his first at-bat on July 14th, Kozma had a zero for 28 slump.

2. Kozma’s on-base percentage currently sits at .275. To put this in perspective, the Cardinals have seven players with batting averages higher than Kozma’s OBP.

3. According to Fangraphs.com, Matt Carpenter has the 4th highest WAR (wins above replacement) in the National League with 5.3. He is making just $504,000 this season. Like I stated on Twitter, he is putting value back in Most Valuable Player.

4. Also according to Fangraphs, the Cardinals have five players in the top 37 in National League WAR. Carpenter is 4th with 5.3, Yadier Molina is 7th with 5.1, Matt Holliday is 28th with 2.6, Allen Craig is 33rd with 2.5, and Carlos Beltran is 37th with 2.3.

5. Adam Wainwright has fewer walks than starts this season. In 27 starts, Wainwright has just 25 walks. With 182 strikeouts, his strikeout-to-walk ratio is an incredible 7.28. #BuenoWaino

6. Molina leads the National League in hitting with a .335 batting average. He has put the ball in play on the first pitch 78 times this season. In those 78 at-bats, he has 29 hits (.372 batting average) with two of them being home runs.

7. Jon Jay‘s current batting average is .270. Thus, in order to get to .300, he will need to catch fire. He is projected to get 108 more at-bats this season and will need 46 hits (.426 average) to reach the .300 mark. Not likely, but it would go a long way for the success of the team down the stretch.

8. Lance Lynn actually has some pretty decent numbers this season. Lynn has 15 quality starts–24th in the National League. He is also averaging 6+ innings pitched per start–second on the team behind Wainwright. He seems to always have one “blow-up” inning, but his overall performance has not been as bad as what people think.

9. Since the All-Star Break, Joe Kelly has the 4th lowest ERA in the National League at 1.80. Clayton Kershaw is first (1.02), Jose Fernandez is second (1.31), and Mat Latos is third (1.47). The highest ERA since the break is 7.55, and it belongs to Jake Westbrook. (these ERA’s were based off a minimum of 30 innings pitched)

10. The league average against left-handed pitchers is .250 this season. The Cardinals are 25th in the league in this category–hitting just .239 against left-handers this season. With the lineup set to be more left-handed next year (Kolten Wong, Matt Adams), look for the Cardinals to make some sort of move this off-season. As I have pointed out on numerous occasions, I would like to see the Cardinals deal Adams (and some pitching) for an upgrade at shortstop (Jonathan Schoop, anyone?) while his value is still high.

11. Next is an obvious and largely overstated one, but I will bring it up anyways. The Cardinals lead the MLB in batting average with runners in scoring position. The team leads the way at .328, and the next closest team is Detroit–43 points lower at .285.

12. The Cardinals are tied for second in the MLB in home runs over the last seven days with 11. The team had just 9 home runs in all of July, so obviously the ball is flying better in the warmer air.

13. For the “Tweeps” out there, the Cardinals have 11 players that are regularly active on Twitter. Not surprisingly, @Yadimolina04 has the most followers with 151,818. @carlosbeltran15 comes in second with 118,228, and @jonjayU is in third place with 102,233 followers. The player with the fewest followers is recent call-up, @Tsunamy27, with 5,881.

I hope you enjoyed my 13 snippets for 2013. If you have any of your own, feel free to share them in the comments section below!

Until next time…

Joe

For more updates, follow me on Twitter: @stlCupofJoe

Official member of the STLSportsMinute Network

Yadier Molina is the National League MVP (so far)

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Photo Credit: ESPN.com

In light of the official MLB twitter account inexplicably leaving Yadier Molina off of their first tweet (which was deleted within minutes due to an huge influx of argumentative tweets) on the first-half National League MVP, I decided it was a perfect time to write a post exploring the thought. If the season ended today, who would be the National League MVP?

Since that thought first struck my brain, the MLB has since posted another tweet which includes Molina, but this, too, sparked a debate for Cardinal Nation–well, MLB, what about Matt Carpenter? The All-Star second base man and extraordinary lead-off man.

Standard Hitting Statistics

Molina: 6 Standard Hitting Statistics with NL Ranks
Batting Average: .341 (1st)
On-base Percentage: .386 (9th)
Slugging Percentage: .489 (15th)
On-base + Slugging (OPS): .875 (10th)
Hits: 110 (5th)
Doubles: 27 (3rd)
Average NL Rank: 7.2

Carpenter: 6 Standard Hitting Statistics with NL Ranks
Batting Average: .321 (6th)
On-base Percentage: .394 (6th)
Slugging Percentage: .497 (13th)
On-base + Slugging (OPS): .891 (8th)
Hits: 115 (3rd)
Doubles: 28 (1st)
Average NL Rank: 5.7

Fangraphs Comparisons

Fangraphs has a “Clutch” statistic defined as “how much better or worse a player does in high leverage situations than he would have done in a context neutral environment.” Well, Molina takes the edge in Carpenter on this one–0.95 to 0.03. To put these numbers into context, anything 1 or higher is considered “great,” so Yadi is nearly great in the Clutch category; whereas, Carpenter, at 0.03, is just barely average in the same category.

To make offense sabemetrics fans happy, I will include one more stat: wRC+. This stands for weighted Runs Created Plus. This statistic basically shows, via percentages, how many runs a player “creates” for his team compared to the league average. The league average is considered 100. Molina’s wRC+ is 145 and Carpenter’s is 151. Thus, that means that Molina and Carpenter have created 45% and 51% more runs than the league average, respectively. Thus, both are considered excellent and despite Carpenter being higher, it really is not by that much.

Enough about offense, let’s discuss what Molina really excels at–defense. “Defensive Runs Saved” is a statistic that basically compares a fielder’s plays made to that of the league average fielder. Anything from 5-10 is above average, from 10-15 is great, and 15 or higher is considered Gold Glove Capable. So far this season, Molina is at 6 (meaning he is on pace for the “Great” range and could reach the “Gold Glove” range) while Carpenter (at second base) is just at 2–average.

Defensive Wins Above Replacement (dWAR), which I found on ESPN.com, not Fangraphs, is a good statistic to compare as well because it shows just how important a player is in the field compared to another player (either on the bench or in the minors) that could be used as his replacement. Molina’s dWAR is 1.2–4th highest of all catchers. Carpenter’s dWAR is just 0.4–30th in the second base category.

Well, let’s just be honest, Molina’s DWAR is that much higher than Carpenter’s because Yadi’s replacement/backup just is not really that good. I give a ton of respect for the role he has on this team, but he is barely a top-50 catcher in this league. Yadi has thrown out 13 of 29 base stealers–45%. His Catcher’s ERA is second in the league at 3.24. Conversely, Tony Cruz, who has started 11 games behind the dish, has the 78th best Catcher’s Earned Run Average in the MLB at 4.68. Of six stealing attempts, he has only thrown out one. I know it is a small sample size compared to Yadi’s 82 starts, but that is a huge difference.

Now, for almost everyone’s favorite statistic…

Wins Above Replacement (WAR). I will admit that I have used this statistic before without really describing it to my readers. Thus, according to Fangraphs, this is basically what it means, “If this player got injured and their team had to replace them with a minor leaguer or someone from their bench, how much value would the team be losing?” Thus, it basically is a pretty all-inclusive stat as to how valuable a player is to his given team. Molina’s WAR is 4.3 while Carpenter’s is 4.6. Given, this is basically a wash as a comparison, but I wanted to highlight that both are in the All-Star range (4-5). If they continue trending upward, both have a chance at eclipsing a WAR of 6 which is considered MVP range.

The Intangibles

Sure, you cannot put a number on intangibles. Thus, with no number available, how can you really put a value on a player’s intangibles? Well, some would argue you can’t, but I will make my attempt at it anyway.

Sabermetricians everywhere will cringe at the next few paragraphs I write, but with the offensive category being pretty close, and the defense statistics swaying towards Yadi, I have decided that it was the time to explore this aspect as well.

I undoubtedly agree that the Cardinals were in dire need of a quality lead-off hitter, and Carpenter has performed at an All-Star level to the point where if he keeps it up, he should most definitely be considered the MVP. I said this in an article back in May.

However, with the way the pitching staff has been, I truly believe that Yadi is the team MVP. The team has had nine different starting pitchers, and it is only mid-July. So far this season, Yadi has now caught ten different rookie pitchers. There are nine pitchers that have started at least three games for the Cardinals. Despite this, the team has still maintained what many see as a top five pitching staff. What role has Yadi played in this? Though there may be no true statistic for this, but his constant behind the plate cannot be understated.

Shelby Miller, just 21 years old, is probably the team’s second best starter. Just last season, fans were calling for his trade saying he was not mature enough to be a top-end starter. Thus, he either has really grown up in less than a year or his battery-mate has played a key role in his development this season. I tend to think that Yadi has played a huge role in his development as a pitcher. If given the opportunity to interview him, that would be the first question that I would ask him.

Conclusion

What it really comes down to is what the voters choose to consider for MVP. I do not have a vote, so does my opinion matter? Nope, but that obviously did not stop me.

To me, an MVP is exactly what it says–the Most Valuable Player. I know that Carpenter leads Molina in various offensive statistics (even more than I have listed above), but he really does not lead Molina by that much. How important is this, though? Because despite Carpenter leading Molina in these statistics, Molina is still among the league leaders in each of them as well. Thus, because of this, I give the slight advantage to Yadi based on his defense and the intangibles.

You may not be able to put a number on intangibles, but to me, they are incredibly important. That is why I consider Yadier Molina the league MVP at this point. It is simply my opinion, and I would appreciate any comments you may have regarding my analysis. Carpenter is more than deserving of MVP consideration, but the 2013 should go to Molina. Remember that this article was written based on if the season ended today. Both will need to keep up their pace if they want to be considered for the award at the end of the season.

Updated (7/20/13): Including other candidates to make it a better representation of MVP discussion.

Paul Goldschmidt: .309 batting average, .391 on-base percentage,  77 RBI, 4.1 WAR, 0.7 dWAR

Buster Posey: .324 batting average, .394 on-base percentage, 56 RBI, 4.1 WAR, 0.4 dWAR

Carlos Gonzalez: .299 batting average, .366 on-base percentage, 64 RBI, 4.3 WAR, 0.7 dWAR

Joey Votto: .319 batting average, .436 on-base percentage, 42 RBI, 3.7 WAR, 0.2 dWAR

Based on how the second half goes, other candidates like Troy Tulowitzki and Andrew McCutchen could make the list, too. However, I made my argument based on the first half alone.

Thus, all things considered and their team’s place in the standings, here is my top-6 for the NL MVP right now:

1. Molina
T-2. Goldschmidt, Carpenter
4. Gonzalez
5. Votto
6. Posey

Until next time…

Joe

Follow me on twitter: @stlCupOfJoe

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The Year of Stan Musial: St. Louis Cardinals Get 6 All-Stars

Photo Credit: sportslogos.net

Photo Credit: sportslogos.net

We all know that Stan Musial did incredible things on and off the field during his lifetime, but based on the way this year’s All-Star rosters panned out, it seems as if he is still having an impact on his beloved, St. Louis Cardinals.

When the All-Star rosters were announced, St. Louis had two starters and three bench players. Yadier Molina was voted in as the starting catcher over defending league MVP, Buster Posey. Carlos Beltran collected enough votes to be the starting right fielder for the National League.

Bruce Bochy, the National League manager, chose Allen Craig, Matt Carpenter, and Adam Wainwright to round out his roster. Most teams would be thrilled to have such an impressive representation in the All-Star game, but I knew something was just a little off about having five players this year (and no, this is not a stab at Albert Pujols).

2013 has been dedicated to Stan “The Man” Musial. This is shown each and every game by the #6 patches that adorn the sleeves of the Cardinals jerseys. Five players in the All-Star Game was nice, but that was not the right number given the circumstances of this season. The team needed six players this season, and it could be seen as another tribute to The Man.

When manager, Mike Matheny, decided to manipulate the rotation a week before the All-Star break to give Wainwright the opportunity to pitch twice, it set up perfectly for the Cardinals to get their sixth man added to the team. However, there were no guarantees because it was all left up to Bochy to name the All-Star replacements. Would he even be interested in putting another Cardinals player into Wainwright’s open spot?

Well, Wainwright did a really good job at campaigning for Mujica to take his spot. He was very straightforward in saying, “If my spot can go to a guy who’s not on the roster, preferably on this team named Mujica, I would like to see that happen. Of course, I want to pitch in the game. But I don’t want to be a liability in any way. If I have a pitch count of 12 pitches in an inning … I want to see a guy who really deserves to be there go and get a chance to pitch.”

His proposal was accepted by Bochy, and during his outing on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, it was made official that Mujica was named to take his spot–the sixth Cardinal on the National League All-Star roster. Could Trevor Rosenthal, Shelby Miller, or even Lance Lynn also made the team? Each one could make their own case, but that just was not going to work this year. The Cardinals had their six, and I am sure that is exactly how Stan would want it.

A Quick Video Tribute to Stan

One will never forget this legendary home run hit by The Man 58 years ago. Just two years ago, this 12th inning walk-off home run by Musial was voted as the top moment in All-Star Game history.

Good luck to the team’s representatives as they take on the American League for the rights to home-field advantage in the World Series. It would only be fitting if Craig (or AC Hammer as I like to call him) or Carpenter could hit a walk-off home run just like Stan did back in 1955.

Photo Credit: Carlos  Beltran's Twitter

Photo Credit: Carlos Beltran‘s Twitter

Above is a picture of the six Cardinals representatives on the plane that took them to New York for the All-Star festivities. Notice that Mujica has started a trend with his hand gesture that he describes as “the Cardinal” based on its shape.

UPDATE: The American League won the game, 3-0. Molina and Carpenter both went 0 for 2 in the game. Beltran went 1 for 2 with a single, and Craig lined out to left off of the great Mariano Rivera.

Thus, the Cardinals’ quest for a 12th World Series title will have to come through an American League stadium. Good thing the Cardinals are 30-20 on the road this season.

Until next time…

Joe (@stlCupOfJoe)