The Cardinals have had a crazy 2016 season filled with unsung heroes, late game heroics, and a record setting amount of home runs. At the same time, the Cardinals have had a tremendous amount of struggles at their home park. The Cardinals are 32-39 at Busch, which is the 4th worst in the NL and by far the worst among teams that are still in playoff contention.
So what is truly behind the Cardinals struggles at home? Teams are supposed to beat up on other teams at home while staying afloat when they go on the road. If you look at the Cardinals home/road splits, it’s easy to see why they are struggling. They simply cannot hit home runs at the same rate they do on the road. At home they’ve hit only 89 home runs this season compared to 115 on the road. Besides home runs, hitting wise the Cardinals are essentially the same. They’ve hit .258 with 136 doubles on the road and .254 with 131 doubles at home.
It’s also important to consider pitching in this comparison. If the Cardinals hitters are having a hard time hitting the ball out at home, the other team should have that problem too. This isn’t the case. The Cardinals pitching staff holds a 4.04 ERA both at home and on the road and have given up 64 home runs at home, only 7 less than their road total.
It is also worth nothing that the Cardinals fielding percentages have been the same both at home and on the road at a steady .982.
Using ESPN’s park factor rating, that incorporates size of park as well as atmosphere, we can see that Busch Stadium is ranked 24th among all parks for runs scored. While the average park is at 1.000, Busch is at .903. An interesting fact about Busch Stadium is that it holds one of the lowest home run factors in the MLB at .823.
Now while Busch is clearly a pitchers park, there is no excuse for the Cardinals to perform so poorly at home. The Cardinals pitching has been average at best and below that at home. While their hitters are struggling, opposing hitters have been having a field day when they come to Busch hitting .252 on the road.
— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) September 13, 2016
Matt Adams and Stephen Piscotty are the only 2 players on the Cardinals to have hit more home runs at home than on the road. Piscotty has 13 at home and 8 on the road while Adams has 10 at home and only 4 on the road. It is almost unbelievable if we compare the Cardinals best home run hitters home and away home run splits. Jedd Gyorko has hit only 9 out of his team high 26 home runs at home. Likewise, Moss has only hit 11 out of his 25 home runs at home.
Now for most teams, not being able to hit home runs isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it truly is for the Cardinals. They are one of the worst average hitters in the MLB with a .254 average on the season. They also rank 3rd to last in stolen bases with only 14 on the season. Finally, the Cardinals are a very one dimensional offense which has caused them massive struggles when they don’t hit a home run. At the start of last night’s game, the Cardinals had only 2 hitters who had an average above .280 in Yaider Molina and Piscotty.
Opponents have been able to utilize the Cardinals one dimensional offense especially in their own park. They simplified the game plan to keep the ball low and make them hit their away around the bases. While that is easier said than done, it is a lot easier to do at Busch stadium than a hitters friendly park like AT&T park, home of the San Francisco Giants….
With the postseason coming around the corner it is almost certain that the Cardinals will not have home field advantage but at the same time, that is not a bad thing. The Cardinals will be much more successful playing at Stadiums like Nationals Park, AT&T park and a stadium that has finally shown signs of life this year on the north side of Chicago called Wrigley Field.
Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports