At 35 years old, Adam Wainwright has dominated in St. Louis for a decade. He is a 4-time Top 3 finisher in Cy Young Voting, and owner of 2 World Series Rings
(— Well, he actually never pitched in 2011, but his performance in the 2006 Playoffs makes up for it). But after missing almost all of 2015, his second lost season in 5 years, Wainwright did not have the same stuff in 2016. Although his WAR was still a respectable 2.9, Waino was not nearly the same player that he was from 2009-2014, when he averaged a 5.4 WAR (excluding 2011).
So what went wrong in 2016? Compared to 2014, Adam’s ERA nearly doubled to a 4.62, while also giving up more walks, home runs, and less ground balls. So why should we be optimistic about a return to Cy-Young contending form in 2017?
Because just like Wainwright’s 2012 recovery season before his explosive 2013 campaign, 2016 was a season for Wainwright to get back into the groove before finding his Ace form this coming season.
2012 and 2016 were eerily similar for Wainwright as he managed to come back from devastating injuries. The heart of the summer, from May to August, saw Wainwright in great form in both recovery seasons. During that time in 2012 and 2016, respectively, Wainwright posted a 3.44 and a 3.99 ERA.
But in the first and last month of the seasons, Wainwright’s ERA was 2 full points higher than the rest of the season. Combining his appearances in April and September in 2012 and 2016, Wainwright posted a 5.44 and a 5.97 ERA, respectively.
The course of those two seasons were similar for a reason. In April, Waino was just fully healed from long recoveries and needed time to get used to major-league hitters again.
And in September, the length of the season caught up to the Ace as he lost most of his endurance. But during the middle of the season, Waino showed us why he is the Cardinals highest paid player.
If this trend continues and the production that we saw during the middle chunk of the season translates to Wainwright’s success for the entirety of next season, it looks like Wainwright will bounce back to a 4+ WAR year.
Photo Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports