The temptation might be to assume that any team featuring both Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday provides a rosy environment for fantasy offense. Not entirely so. The Cardinals' home stadium, Busch Stadium III, is unfavorable to every kind of offense. Doubles, triples and home runs all happen less often, while fly-outs are more common, than at just about any other park in baseball.
Tony La Russa's managerial policies don't help fantasy owners in the speed department: St. Louis attempted just 106 steals last season, tied for fourth-fewest in the league. That reticence to run is a consistent part of La Russa's strategy.
The value of La Russa's much-debated second lead-off hitter theory is something to account for. Whether or not it benefits the entire team, it provides more RBI opportunities for St. Louis's twin sluggers.
The Duncan way has attained new heights of hoopla during the past two seasons. Dave Duncan, the team's pitching coach, has instilled in his pitchers a trio of principles:
First, pitch to contact: St. Louis recorded the most innings per start in the NL last season, but did so with the ninth-most pitches per start.
Second, throw strikes: The team walked the fewest batters in either league on the way to the third-best WHIP.
Third, and most important, keep the ball on the ground: The margin by which the Cardinals had the highest rate of groundballs as a percentage of balls in play is laughably high.
They also surrendered the second-fewest home runs in the league.
The outfield reflects the traditional composition of a defensive alignment: very good in center field, and average at the corners. Catcher Yadier Molina is the real difference maker on defense, to the point that teams no longer even try to steal against him. Brendan Ryan is the ace of an effective but generally unspectacular infield that features no full-timers besides Pujols.
About Matt Trueblood
Matt is a journalism student at Loyola University Chicago. The guest contributor is a featured Chicago Cubs columnist on the Bleacher Report as well as a contributor to hotstove.com. Matt envisions himself as both a writer and analyst and strives to deliver pieces that are both well-researched and thought-provoking. He work first appeared on KFFL.com in February 2010.
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