Matt Adams had quite the weekend, didn’t he? With his bat, of course — three home runs in three games after coming off the disabled list — plus the “Field of Dreams”-like factor with his dad being in town for Father’s Day to witness all three homers in person.
Hurray for the Matts! (These two, anyway — sorry Matt Carpenter!) Four homers for the weekend! Forget all that power outage talk! The Cards are back in the slugging business! At least that’s what Mike Matheny says in this article from Alex Halsted at Cardinals.com:
“It’s not a surprise — it’s not like guys never hit any homers in their life,” Matheny said. “I think everybody just thought we were either brainwashing them not to hit home runs or else they all lost it collectively — and both of them are ridiculous. These guys are going to hit home runs.”
Well, Mike, yes, four home runs is definitely good. Progress, even. Plus it’s excellent to know that you and John Mabry aren’t brainwashing the team — because that seems creepy.
But this team still is what it is, Mike — which is not really a home-run hitting team. Jhonny Peralta still leads the team with 10. Yes, it’s just June 16, but 22 NL players, including such guys as Neil Walker and Marcell Ozuna, have 11 or more.
And even with the four homers in the past three games, the Cardinals are still last in home runs in the National League with 40. They trail the team just ahead of them, the Mets, by eight and the No. 13 team, the Padres, by 10. (The Cards also trail the No. 1 team, the Rockies, by 46.)
Plus this team really hasn’t been a home run-hitting team since 2012. Maybe, Mike, that’s what you’re still remembering: those five guys who hit 20 or more. But two of those guys, Carlos Beltran and David Freese, are no longer Cardinals. And last year’s team had just two guys who hit 20-plus — and one was Beltran. Holliday was the other, and the team as a whole only hit 125, which was 13th in the NL.
Of course, that didn’t matter when it came to winning — but that’s because of the ridiculous runners-in-scoring-position average for the team, which as we all remember fondly was first in MLB at .330. We knew it probably wasn’t sustainable this year and it hasn’t been — this year’s team is hitting .237 in that situation, 10th in the NL. (The Rockies top baseball there too, at .286 right now.)
Another difference from last season — the team’s slugging percentage. Remember all those doubles last year? The team hit 322 total, best in the NL by 20 and second to the Red Sox in MLB overall. Those helped the team finish the season with a slugging percentage of .401, third-best in the NL and just barely behind the second team, the Braves, at .402. This year’s Cardinals are slugging .364 at the moment, 13th in the NL. They’ve hit 125 doubles, which is fifth.
Maybe this year’s team will get hot now that it’s mid-June and Matt Adams is healthy and slugging. But it seems like we’ve all spent April and May saying “maybe,” doesn’t it? Now, we don’t know for sure — won’t know for sure — until the games are played, and 93 games are still enough for anything to happen.
Yet it seems safe to say this team as a whole isn’t going to be moving up too far in that total homers category, especially based on what’s happened through these first 69 games. Yes, they can win without doing so, as we saw last year.
But it’s going to take getting on base and hitting with runners in scoring position — and not those leisurely jogs around the bases after a ball leaves the park.
Maybe that’s what Matheny and Mabry need to brainwash the team on instead.