by: Ryan McKenna
Back in November when I was with the local newspaper, the Journal Pioneer, my mentor, Jocelynne, tried to get me to write my own columns. I did write three, but it was only the first one that got published. So I stopped. One of those columns that I wrote but never got published was on the hiring of Mark McGwire as hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals. In the article, I talked about McGwire and how he had so many questions entering this season, whether it was admitting to steroids (which he did), or the question as to whether the Cardinals good average hitters would falter, due to McGwire’s terrible career average of .263. Were now past the mid-way point in the 2010 season, so let’s take a look at how Mark and the Cards offense are making out.
Starting off with one of the obvious stats and that is their placement in the NL Central. The Cardinals are in the middle of a huge series with the Cincinnati Reds. They won last night, pushing their record to 62-49 and one game back of the Reds a top the division. If any question marks were there that the averages of St. Louis’s better average hitters would suffer, it didn’t happen. They are third in the National League in average with a team average of .267. As for all the other main team hitting stats, they aren’t doing too shabby there either. Hits (4th, 1010), HR (7th, 111), RBI (7th, 479), OBP (5th, .336), and Slugging Percentage (6th, .415). To sum it all up, the Cardinals offense is doing pretty darn good. By no means are they the best hitting team in the National League or in the Majors for that matter, but finishing no worse than 7th in a 16 team League is very good. If you want to get into the advanced statistics of fangraphs.com, the Cards have two players in the top 20 in the entire Majors for wOBA, with Albert Pujols, arguably the best hitter in the game with a .412 wOBA, 7th best in the Majors, and Matt Holliday who is tied for 18th with Scott Rolen with a .388 wOBA.
To sum it all up, Mark McGwire hasn’t gone into St. Louis and completely revamped the entire batting lineup with all new swings and crazy new tactics. He seems to have gone in with a good approach and let his hitters do what they can. With his efforts and the efforts of the entire St. Louis Cardinals club lead by Tony La Russa, they are, as I mentioned earlier, only one game back of the division leading Cincinnati Reds, with a chance to tie them this evening for a share of the division. By late Thursday night, this Cardinals lineup, lead offensively by the mind of the great slugger Mark McGwire could be a top the NL Central standings. The playoff hunt is on.