The St. Louis Cardinals came into existence in 1882 as the St. Louis Brown Stockings and their team history is one of the best and deepest in all of professional sports. The Cardinals 11 World Series Championships are the second most in Major League Baseball history. The Cardinals have a litany of Baseball Hall of Famers that includes Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, and Ozzie Smith. Since 2000, the Cardinals have only had one losing season with two World Series Championships in four appearances in the Fall Classic over that stretch. After winning the World Series in 2011, the Cardinals fell one game short of making the Fall Classic in 2012. The Cardinals made the World Series last year, but they were knocked off there by the Boston Red Sox in six games. The Cardinals came into this season expecting to once again be a playoff contender, but for the most part things have been a little different.
Since the start of the MLB season, the Milwaukee Brewers have been the team to beat in the National League Central as they have held down the top spot. A month ago the Brewers had a 5.5 game lead over the Cardinals in the division. But now the Brewers are tied with the Cardinals for first place in the division. The Cards have rallied to catch the Brewers in spite of the fact that they are currently without catcher Yadier Molina who is sidelined with ligament damage in his thumb. Molina is a six-time National League All-Star and he has also won seven Gold Glove Awards for his prowess behind the plate. Without a doubt Molina is the heart and soul of the Cardinals, but the Cardinals have a never-say-die attitude along with the next man up mentality as each player knows that he must be up for the challenge. This is the same mentality that the Cardinals used in 2006 when they won the World Series.
In 2004 and 2005, the Cardinals won 100-plus games in both seasons, but they were unable to win it all. The Cardinals only went 83-78 in 2006 and they were able to win the World Series. After winning the World Series in 2011, the Cardinals saw longtime first baseman Albert Pujols leave via free agency to join the Los Angeles Angels. In two years without Pujols, the Cardinals have two postseason appearances to their credit. Now the current Cardinals team is not littered with superstars, but with a bunch of guys that do everything very well.
Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams is in his third season and in each year he has improved. Adams is currently second in the NL in batting average (.323) while he also has 12 homers and 43 runs batted in. At 34-years of age Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday is not the power threat that he once was, but he still leads the club in runs batted in with 50 and he has a .376 on-base percentage. Last year as a member of the Detroit Tigers, shortstop Jhonny Peralta was suspended by Major League Baseball for 50 games due to his role in the Biogenesis scandal. The Cards signed Peralta last winter to a four-year deal worth $53 million and he is currently leading the team in home runs with 14.
In the past few years the Cardinals pitching rotation has been defined by starting pitcher Adam Wainwright. Since 2009, Wainwright has led the NL in wins on two occasions and his 12 victories this season are leading the Senior Circuit. Wainwright is also leading the National League in earned run average this season at 1.83. But aside from Wainwright, starting pitcher Lance Lynn has emerged in the Cardinals rotation. In 2012, Lynn was fourth in the NL in wins with 18. So far this season Lynn is 11-6 and he has a decent shot of winning 18 games if not more this season. If Lynn does win 18 or more games in 2014 it should mark the Cards once again winning the NL Central.
Under manager Mike Matheny, the Cardinals simply do not beat themselves. The season the Cardinals have only committed 47 errors which is the second fewest in the National League and their pitching staff has only given up 20 unearned runs.
In their next eight games the Cardinals do not play a team that currently has a winning record as they have two home games with the Tampa Bay Rays before traveling to take on the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres respectively.The Cardinals are anticipating getting Molina back from the disabled list at some point which will be a tremendous shot in the arm for this club. In spring training I projected the Cardinals to win the 2014 World Series and come October, this battled test club may still emerge when the smoke clears.