The 10.5: How many runs does it take to win a baseball game?



There's still a full week to go but this month of May has potential to be the worst for Cardinals baseball since...well, I don't even know. Even last September when the Cardinals seemingly fell flat on their face in the homestretch they still scraped by with a 12-15 record. That's not good, but it's not horrific either. Since the calendar hit May this year though, the Cardinals are 6-14, and while I'm too tired right now to do the research, I have a feeling it has been a very long time since they went a full ten games under .500 for a full month. That's what's in play. And their seven games remaining this month are against three teams (Braves, Phillies, Cubs) who would all be in the postseason if the season ended today.


Seasons don't end in May, however, and unlike last September, the Cardinals have plenty of time to make up for past wrongs. Whether they can do that with a rotation that is in the running for the worst in the league remains to be seen but I'm pretty skeptical.


That aside, their postseason odds still sit firmly at approximately 40 percent. That seems high - even with 113 games remaining - but I'm not going to argue with the people at FanGraphs.


How many runs does it take to win a baseball game?


Two articles from two different Cardinals bloggers (this one from C70 at Cards Conclave, and this one from Tanner Puckett at Viva El Birdos) loosely touched on the erratic scoring nature of the 2019 St. Louis Cardinals. That is, scoring 17 runs one night and combing to score two runs over the next two games, and then several days later scoring 14 runs in a series opener and then, again, scoring two measly runs the rest of the way.


This had me wondering, how many runs does it take the 2019 Cardinals to win a baseball game? Let's find out.


0 runs: 0-3 (makes sense)

1 run: 0-5

2 runs: 0-4

3 runs: 1-2

4 runs: 4-6

5 runs: 4-2

6 runs: 6-1

7 runs: 1-1

8 runs: 1-0

9 runs: 2-0

10+ runs: 6-0


This is not your 2015 Cardinals. When they don't score at least four runs, they are 1-11. Even when they do score exactly four runs they're not doing so well, but at least they have a fighting chance. Get over that four run hump though and the Cardinals are playing .833 ball. So the answer to the above question is probably five, most certainly eight. Is eight runs a game too much to ask?


Checking back in on what I wanted to see from the Cardinals in 2019


In January I wrote the post 3 things I want to see from the Cardinals in 2019. Those three things of whose importance certainly lie in the eye of the beholder were as follows:


1. A Cardinals finish with 38 or 40 home runs (because no Cardinals has ever done this);

2. A Cardinal steal at least 30 bases; and

3. A Cardinals pitcher strikeout at least 220 batters.


So how are we doing? Well, regarding number one, Marcell Ozuna is on pace to hit 46 home runs and Paul Goldschmidt follows with 33. Both are in the running. I suppose Paul DeJong (on pace for 26) could join them if he rattles off a bunch of dingers in a short span, or Matt Carpenter, too, if he has a June, July, and August similar to his 2018 June, July, and August, but we should probably keep our focus on Ozuna and Goldschmidt for now.


As for number two, Kolten Wong is the only realistic candidate here and he's on pace to swipe 23 bases. Yadier Molina is on pace to steal 13 bases which for all I know could be a record for a full-time catcher who happens to be approaching his 37th birthday and that's fun but that's not 30.


Number three is going to be a tall order. Jack Flaherty is on pace to strikeout 192 batters which is well short of that 220 mark, a number which hasn't been reached by a Cardinal since Bob Gibson in 1970. Flaherty aside, no other starter is in the ballpark. The Cardinals defense this season seems a bit more crisp to the naked eye than in years past, but I would rather take it out of their hands more often, and have a staff that strikes a lot of batters out. Maybe someday.

Recent words written about baseball that are worth reading

  • What are the Cardinals by El Maquino. I found this to be as good of a dissection on the Cardinals as you will find at this point in the season and I especially enjoyed the final two paragraphs:

If broadcasters who gripe about strikeouts losing their stigma were to look down on the field, they’d at least take time to admire the exceptions. Yadier Molina is old. But as someone who still watches his longtime comrade Albert Pujols most days, I can say that’s not a totally bad thing. Both men are holdouts; a dying breed from the old school which the Moneyball and Statcast eras both passed by. Aggressive, but not sloppy. Few remain.
Pujols still has his old habit of taking the first pitch on principle, but he has no illusions of working the count after that. The old school works from a position of strength and won’t allow a bad call by the umpire or a wicked two-strike slider decide the outcome for them. This old way of doing things has been vetted by data and found to be lacking. But if sport is meant to be entertainment, there’s nothing better than old hounds running with the best, well past their prime but determined to stick to their old craftsmanship just a little longer.
  • How Paul DeJong turned into a superstar by Eno Sarris of the Athletic ($). An excellent look at Paul DeJong, who has proven a lot of us wrong, including me. I don't know who gets the bulk of the credit for his (so far) breakout season. I'm fine giving it all to DeJong, Jeff Albert, whoever, but watching a guy who couldn't draw a walk and was striking out entirely too much transform into a player who now ranks in the top 85 percentile for walk-to-strikeout ratio has been damn impressive. If the Cardinals turn out to be lousy in 2019 at least we get to watch Paul DeJong.

  • George Kissell by Warren Corbett at SABR.org. If you're a reader of this blog or any Cardinals-centric blog, I consider this required reading. My favorite line (from Spark Anderson with regard to Kissell): "He could teach a snake to box."

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That will do it. Quick thing for all of you Blues fans. First, congratulations. Second, it took me entirely too long to learn that the "Gloria" being played, screamed after Blues wins was not the "Gloria" by Them but rather the "Gloria" by Laura Branigan. Both are good songs and the Branigan song probably makes a lot more sense in the setting, but just imagine a boozy, rowdy crowd belting out Van the Man's chorus in the other "Gloria." That would be pretty cool too, no? I'll let you decide.




Have a great weekend, everyone. And go Cardinals (Blues, too).