Redbird Droppings: Runs Are The Name Of The Game


This Redbird Droppings looks at the Cardinals struggles with the runs.

Redbird Droppings

Now that we are just over halfway through the season, it’s a good time to review the overall team numbers and see where they can improve before the trade deadline.

Let’s start with their runs.

They’ve scored 328 runs this season, good for 27th in baseball; only the Athletics, Marlins, and White Sox are worse (and just for the record, the Cardinals are 3-3 with 32 runs scored and 32 runs allowed against the Marlins, 1-2 with 9 runs scored and 11 runs allowed against the White Sox, and 2-1 with 9 runs scored and 9 allowed against Oakland – those 3 teams have scored more than the Cardinals have when going head to head). They are the lowest scoring team in the NL Central. The Cardinals average 3.95 runs per game.

On the flip side, they’ve allowed 368 runs, which is 18th in baseball; it’s not great, but it’s not as bad as their scoring. From a division standpoint, they are 4th of 5 and only the Cubs are worse (Pittsburgh it only 1 run better, which I attribute to the Paul Skenes‘ factor; any pitcher that would pitch in place of Skenes would be worse). They average 4.43 allowed per game.

Right off the bat, they average more runs allowed then scored. That’s been the theme since April 6 (coincidently against the Marlins), the only day of the season they averaged more runs scored than allowed.

The team’s run differential is bad; not like they score as many as they allow bad, but like extremely bad bad. After 83 games, the team’s run differential is -40. That’s better than the worst point this season (-52 on May 11), but they’ve done little to make it back to even.

When plugged into the Pythagorean Theorem of Baseball, their run differential would put their record at 37-46, or they are playing 6 games better than they should be. If you use this as a predictor for the rest of the season, the Cardinals are set for some regression where they should lose some more close games than they had in the first half, or they’ll start having a few more large differential games to bring the run differential up to the actual record.

The Cardinals did no favors to themselves with the slow start, but they’ve also run into issues scoring runs as they’ve played better; it’s just the pitching has been better. When you break down the run differential per game, you’ll see the big issue.

+/- 11511.577
+/- 2108.556
+/- 3105.667
+/- 443.571
+/- 535.375
+/- 612.333
+/- 703.000
+/- 801.000
+/- 901.000
+/- 10 or more01.000

If the run differential per game is +/- 4 or less per game, they typically win; in those games, they have a winning percentage of .591. 39 of their 43 wins have a RD in this range. When a game has more than 4 runs, they have a winning percentage of .235; they are almost guaranteed a loss in these games.

If you limit the run numbers to what they’ve scored per game, you get an even greater concern for the offense.


The winning percentage is where they should be for the most part; the more they score, the better they are is common sense. The issue if the amount of games in the top half versus the bottom half; they’ve scored 3 runs or less in 40 of their 83 games and it jumps to 52 of 83 games when they get 4 runs or less.

When you compare it to their runs allowed, you’ll see a little more:


If, as expected, the Cardinals pitchers give up 3 runs or less, they have a good chance of victory; they’ve only lost 6 of 35 of these games. The down side if this has happened in less than half the gamed they’ve played this year. That also means when they give up 4 or more, they’re 14-36. They’ve had 7 games where they’ve given up 10 or more runs, which is bad.

If you go back to the average runs scored/allowed graph above, you’ll see that the runs allowed per game has actually gotten better since Game 45 (May 19th’s 11-3 loss to Boston), where they averaged 4.87 runs allowed.

The Cards need to address their pitching and a reliable 5th started would help. Sonny Gray has been as advertised this season. Miles Mikolas, Kyle Gibson, and Lance Lynn have all flashed great starts, but have been up and down. With Steven Matz struggling to get healthy, the 5th starter spot has been suspect. Andre Pallante doesn’t appear to be the answer. Matthew Liberatore is much better in the bullpen. The team is reluctant to hand the ball over to one of the young guys in Memphis.

The Cardinals also need address the lineup. You have what you have in Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado at this point; I doubt either is dealt and it’s hard to say they are going to bounce back to their pre-2023 levels. Who knows when Tommy Edman will be back? The team seems committed to Nolan Gorman at second, even if he could use some help in the minors on pitch recognition (those K numbers right now…ouch). The only spot they can squeeze someone in is at centerfield; Michael Siani couldn’t hit his way out of a paper bag and the team won’t commit to Dylan Carlson everyday.

The biggest issue is what is there to trade. Any team trading a big name will require Masyn Winn in a deal; Gorman, Alec Burleson and Brendan Donovan will be popular names. I don’t know if Jordan Walker still has trade value, and Carlson and Edman probably don’t. They have prospects, but the team tends to overvalue their system and won’t give up guys like Tink Hence or Gordon Graceffo.

I’m expecting the team will only get a 5th starter, a low leverage bullpen arm, and a slight upgrade at center. It’ll be enough to win a Wild Card, but not enough to be a true contender in October. Much like the last few years of Cardinal playoffs.

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