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Are the Cardinals a Top-10 Team?

ESPN Senior Writer David Schoenfield ranks the Cardinals #11 in his power rankings. Is this spot too high, low, or just right?

In a recent power ranking released on February 18th, 2016, ESPN Senior Writer David Schoenfield ranked the Cardinals #11 out of the 30 MLB teams. Many Cardinals fans looking at this power ranking may be disappointed with the fact that our team is coming off of a 100-win season and yet we are ranked outside of the top-10. So, how exactly did Schoenfield come up with this ranking? How much should we trust his ranking? Do the Cardinals really belong in the #11 slot?

Let’s look at what Schoenfield’s reasons were for ranking the Cardinals so lowly in his power rankings.

Schoenfield bases his prediction on the fact that the Cardinal’s pitching staff was simply too good in 2015 (only allowed 525 runs, I repeat 525!) to replicate their success. Statistics show that the top 10 teams in fewest runs given up since 2010 all did significantly worse in the following season. In fact, every team in that top 10 category gave up, on average, 99 more runs the following season. Schoenfield believes that the 2016 Cardinals will be the latest addition to this list.

Schoenfield states boldly that “[he] doesn’t see a better offense in 2016 and [he] sees more runs allowed.” According to him, the Cardinals pitched way too well last season and that there is simply no way the team can count on their pitching staff to be that dominant again. Additionally, he believes that the offense didn’t get better this offseason, so the offense will produce less runs this year than the last. With more runs given up and less runs produced, Schoenfield believes that this is the recipe for the 2016 Cardinals to take a step back from their 100-win season.

However, that is simply one writers’ opinion. I wouldn’t read too much into this prediction because he doesn’t really account for the biggest factor for why the 2016 Cardinals better than the 2015 version: everybody is finally healthy.

There is absolutely no doubt that the 2015 Cardinals were injury-plagued (which is an understatement). Just look at the number of games missed by key players on this team. Adam Wainwright missed almost the entire season. For your staff to go on and pitch one of the best seasons ever by a staff without their perennial Cy contender is insane. Now imagine that staff with him. Matt Holliday only played in 73 games. Matt Adams only played in 60 games. Although all of the replacement players had terrific seasons, the injuries still had a big effect on the team, as young players were relied upon on to carry the team.

Now, the leaders will be back. Adam Wainwright will be back as the ace of this rotation. Last year, at the time of his injury, he was on pace for a career year. If he can’t replicate that success, the Cardinals will be a top 10 team for sure. Also, now, Holliday can come back and play his every day position and alleviate the young players the pressure of carrying this team. There will be slightly less pressure on the young players to develop, with a veteran coming back to play his position every day.

If every contributor from the 2015 team can replicate their success and add a healthy Wainwright and Holliday into the mix, the 2016 team should be a lot higher than #11 in any power ranking.

 

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