We have now reached day number 30 in our “30 Teams in 30 Days” special. This will be the final “30 Teams in 30 Days” article written for the 2012 MLB season. What better way to end it than with the 2011 World Series Champion, St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals had an unbelievable season filled with many ups and downs, which ultimately ended in a giant up. Let’s recap their magical 2011.
St. Louis Cardinals
Finish: 2nd in NL Central (Wild Card winner)
Playoffs: World Series Champions
Top Pitcher: Kyle Lohse 14-8, 3.39 ERA, 111 SO
Top Hitter: Albert Pujols .299 AVG, 37 HR, 99 RBI
Manager: Mike Matheny (Bye Bye TLR)
Important Offseason acquisitions: J.C. Romero, Eugenio Velez (0 for 37 last year), Carlos Beltran, Scott Linebrink
Important Offseason Losses: Octavio Dotel DET, Edwin Jackson WAS, Nick Punto BOS, Albert Pujols LAA, Arthur Rhodes FA
The Cardinals highlited a seaon, which was in my opinion, one of the best seasons the MLB has had in a very long time. The Cardinals were 10 games back of the Wild Card spot in late August, they roamed all the way back to take it on the final day of the season. After that, they went on to beat the Phillies (who were the favorites to win it all) in the NLDS after Carpenter out-pitched Halladay in game 5. They then defeated the Brewers 4-2 in the NLCS, and I think everyone knows what happened after that, a world series that involved records being shattered, heroes being born and of course collapses. Lost in the madness, with them pulling off upset after upset, was how good they really were and how well they performed in the regular season. By that, I mean they had a really good season, and a really good team, but people liked to paint them as a Cinderella story, so that’s how they were and still are perceived. It’s not like they just came alive in the postseason, they had the 5th most runs scored in the league, the 5th best batting average, the 12th best ERA and they issued the 6th least amount of walks in the league. They had very good seasons from some players no one expected to at the start of the year like: Lance Berkman (.301 AVG, 31 HR, 94 RBI), David Freese (.297 AVG, 10 HR, 55 RBI in just 97 games), Yadier Molina (career highs in AVG (.305), HR (14) and RBI (65)), Allen Craig (.315 AVG, 11 HR, 40 RBI in just 75 games) and Kyle Lohse (14-8, 3.39 ERA, 111 SO), and of course some great years from expected players like: Albert Pujols (.299 AVG, 37 HR, 99 RBI), Chris Carpenter (11-9, 3.45 ERA, 191 SO) and Jaime Garcia (13-7, 3.56 ERA, 156 SO). One thing they didn’t have last year was their ace, Adam Wainwright, who was out all year due to injury, he will return this year, and after a great spring, it looks like he’s ready to return to star status as well. Wainwright will be replacing Edwin Jackson in the rotation, who signed with the Nationals during the offseason after coming to St. Louis in a trade that sent Rasmus to the Blue Jays last year.The rotation should be great this year, it will consist of Wainwright, Carpenter (when he returns to full health), Garcia, Lohse and Westbrook, this is a wonderful rotation, and if it can live up to expectations, I believe it can be one of the top 5 or 6 rotations in the league. Their bullpen lost a couple key pieces in Dotel and Rhodes during the offseason, they added J.C. Romero and Scott Linebrink, but ultimately their bullpen should be worse than it was last year, Jason Motte appears to have the closer job for 2012 but Salas may take over if anything goes wrong. Offensively they lost Nick Punto, who had a solid campaign last year and ummm who was that other guy again? Oh ya, Albert Pujols, Pujols will obviously be a major loss for the Cardinals, but with the addition of Beltran, and players like Berkman, Freese, Craig, Holliday, Jay, Furcal, Schumaker and Molina still on the team, the Cardinals should still have a very dangerous offense. After Pujols, their biggest loss was probably Tony LaRussa, who was the Cardinals manager since 1996, he has led them to 2 World Series, 3 NL Pennants and 8 NL Central titles, he announced his retirement immediately after winning the World Series, he will be missed and will go down as one of the best managers in recent history. A lot of People have the Cardinals doing poorly this season, but with their ace back and an extra wild card spot being added, I don’t see why they wouldn’t be able to make the playoffs once again.
Finish: 2nd in NL Central, 2nd in Wild Card race Playoffs: Eliminated in Play-in game Top Pitcher: Adam Wainwright 19-9, 2.78 ERA, 201 SO Top Hitter: Carlos Beltran: .296 AVG, 25 HR, 93 RBI
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This concludes our 30 Teams in 30 Days special. Let’s play ball. Check back daily for more articles.