Friday, June 14, 2013

Cardinals road performance has been vital to the teams' record start

The St. Louis Cardinals are off to a record-setting pace in the first two and a half months into the major league baseball season, which isn't really that much of a surprise to many Cardinals fans -- including myself. There is one thing that does stand out and that does impress me with how great of a start this really is though -- and that's that not only are they playing well at home, but the fact that they are also playing even better on the road in front of the visiting crowds.

As we are now 67 games into the 2013 marathon that we all call baseball season, St. Louis manager Mike Matheny has his team revved up and playing some damned good baseball. While they currently own the best record in all of the entire MLB, they are seven games above the .500 mark at home inside 'Baseball Heaven', and on the road, where history shows that they normally struggle, they are 12 games over.

How is it that they are playing so well, everywhere they go? Especially considering the fact that through all of this, they are the youngest team in all of the baseball based upon the average ages of the players. It could be the pressure of performing in front of the home crowd, which would be my only guess with so many rookies playing in such big roles. But then again, it doesn't make much sense that the same rookies could flourish so well away from the place they are so-well loved at [Busch Stadium].

At 43-24 overall, the Cardinals are 24-12 on the road -- which also is another category that they are tops above all teams. While there are a few teams that own a better home record, the closest team to them on the road in all of baseball owns just 20 wins -- which is four games behind -- owned by the likes of the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland Athletics.

A lot of experts and baseball fanatics seem to believe this is just a stretch run of 'luck', which could very well be your opinion as well -- and hey, everybody and everything on this earth has the right to have their own opinion, but one thing that I know is for sure; numbers don't lie.

As an offensive unit on the road, the Cardinals are the second best hitting team as they have posted a team batting average of .270 -- which is behind just the Baltimore Orioles (.279) for the best. They have a league-best 173 RBIs and while they've only hit 28 home runs (compared to the Orioles' leading 47), they own a .336 on-base percentage as well as a slugging percentage of .403.

The real key to the road though has been the pitching staff. The Cardinals pitching unit as a whole has combined for a league-best 2.99 earned-run average while having the top WHIP in all of baseball as well as they stand at 1.24 -- which are two of the biggest indications' stat-wise on how well a pitcher/pitching staff is doing as a whole. In the 36 road games so far, they have racked up 262 strikeouts compared to just 87 walks as well, which has been huge for the young rooks in both the starting rotation as well as bullpen towards their youth of gaining confidence.

With the lost in the opening game of this weekends three game series against the Marlins in Miami, the Cardinals' streak of series-wins on the road will be on the line with them needing to win both Saturday and Sunday's games if they want to keep it going. Since losing two of three to the Diamondbacks in Arizona the opening series of the season, the team has yet to lose again as they have won ten out of eleven with the only series they didn't end up winning being a one game split with the Cubs' in a two game series in which dates back to May 7th and 8th as the Cubs won the first game 2 to 1 before St. Louis took the second game 5 to 4.

Nobody can really put together why the Cardinals are playing this well away from home -- or why they are for that matter. The only thing that you can do for the moment is to just watch and see how these rookies continue to grow and see what they learn from it. Matheny has these youngsters playing to their max potential right now and they aren't showing any signs of slowing down, either. As any baseball fan knows though, one of the biggest keys to winning a world title has a lot to do with how well you can perform on the road -- and these guys are doing just that!

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