The Cardinals put pressure on the Giants all throughout September but fell one game short.
Sadly, the Cardinals were unable to make it to the postseason this year. However, the Cardinals went down swinging by winning their last four games to finish the season. Nevertheless, we must reflect on the season in order to squeeze every last bit out of it. Arguably, the best part of the season came from guys that are not much older than myself. These young players provide a glimmer of hope for next season after the Cardinals 2016 was cut shorter than desired.
The main high point to come to the Cardinals this season was carried up from the minor leagues.
Rookies, and younger players as a whole, were the brightest part of the season. The ROY award for the Cardinals this season certainly belongs to Aledmys Diaz. Diaz came out of the gates strong by posting .423/.453/.732 in 22 games in April. His performance early on was so dominate that it forced the Cardinals to keep him in the lineup all season. Aledmys Diaz finished the season with a 3.6 WAR and his first All-Star credit to his name. His best moment came just a few days ago with his Grand Slam after the Tragic loss of Jose Fernandez. If there were no Corey Seager, Diaz would be a very strong candidate for ROY of the NL. However, he was not the only bright rookie as Alex Reyes deserves recognition as well. Reyes only had 46.0 IP this year, but every single one of them was dominant. Through 46.0 innings, Reyes held a 1.57 ERA and struck out at a rate of 10.2 batters per 9 innings. A factor that helped him was that he was able to hold a Hr/9 of 0.2; which means he gave up only 0.2 home runs per 9 innings pitched. This is not a number that he can maintain over the course of a whole season as a starter (next to impossible to do so). Therefore, his ERA will surely climb to more normal levels. However, he still showed to be a promising young pitcher and a potential front end of the rotation type guy.
Martinez and Piscotty continue to improve and add more experience to their names.
Opening up past rookies to younger players, Carlos Martinez and Stephen Piscotty both had great years. Matinez pitched to the tune of a 3.04 ERA and a WAR of 5.5 which is well over All-Star worthy marks although he did not get the nod. This season is another step towards Martinez taking over as the ace of the rotation. Piscotty’s year was just about average all around except for in one very important situation. Piscotty was an MVP Pujols like machine with runners in scoring position. This season, Piscotty matched Pujols’ 2009 season .361 avg with runners in scoring position and held a very impressive WRC+ of 172 (Pujols; 188). This quick comparison may tug at some still sore strings, but his success in scoring situations should not go unnoticed.
“The Future ain’t what it used to be.”-Yogi Berra
All things considered, this season did not go as hoped for the Cardinals by not making the playoffs. It may seem bleak now as the end of an era for long time Cardinals is vast approaching: Matt Holliday’s possibly last season for the Cardinals; Adam Wainwright’s season struggles; Yadier Molina’s declining defense behind the plate. These faces were the heart of the franchise for years and it is hard to see them decline. However, the Cardinals have done an excellent job at developing the next wave of individuals. Thanks to Diaz, Reyes, Piscotty, and Martinez just to name a few, the future may not be the same, but it still burns bright with Cardinal Baseball.
Stats via FanGraphs and Baseball Reference; Picture by Jeff Curry USA Today
*This measures how a player’s wRC compares to the league average, adjusted for ballpark. 100 is average, 120 is twenty percent above average and 80 is 20 percent below average. Via hardballtimes.com.