Were the Cardinals Outliers in 2017?

You get on base, we win. You don’t, we lose. And I *hate* losing, Chavy. I *hate* it. I hate losing more than I even wanna win.”  (Moneyball). This statement cannot be denied, all you have to do is look at the stats. The top 7 teams in baseball with the highest OBP made the playoffs in 2017. The 8th team? The St. Louis Cardinals, but the 2017 Cardinals missed the divisional playoffs by 9 games.

“People who run ball clubs, they think in terms of buying players. Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins. And in order to buy wins, you need to buy runs” (Moneyball). The Cardinals bought one such player in Dexter Fowler, known for his on-base skills. He got on with a .363 clip in 2017, which is great in today’s game where OBP is king, as referenced by the top 7 teams making the playoffs. It also helped the Cardinals improve from 11th overall in OBP in 2016 to 8th in 2017. Fowler also isn’t the only Cardinal that can take a walk.

Matt Carpenter has been one of the best on-base guys in baseball, maintaining an OBP over .380 for two years in a row. He walked 109 times in 2017. None of this matters, however, without timely hitting and power. The 2017 Cardinals didn’t hit when it counted and that hurt them in 2017.

“He gets on base a lot. Do I care if it’s a walk or a hit?” (Moneyball). Walks certainly aren’t going away, and they add value to any club, but the 2017 St. Louis Cardinals were only middle of the pack in home runs, at number 18. The 2017 World Series Champion Houston Astros were number 2. The mixture of power and on-base prowess propelled Houston to their first Championship in team history.

Is power what the Cardinals need going into 2018? Perhaps, but maybe all they need is their young staff gaining another year of experience, with the addition of Alex Reyes making a comeback from TJ surgery. If Pham and Dejong can replicate their seasons, the Cardinals OBP skills could lead to a playoff appearance come 2018.

 

Photo credit: Redbirdrants.com

 

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