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The 10.5: Ricky Horton, the '87 Cardinals, and Piscotty's heartfelt home run

During Wednesday's win in Minnesota, Cardinals announcer Ricky Horton bemoaned the fact that Mike Matheny removed starter Mike Mikolas from the game when he only needed to record one more out to qualify for the win. Toward the end of the game he complained about it again. Now I don't really have a problem with Horton, mostly because I have a high tolerance for the people who typically fill that gig. I get that he's a former starting pitcher and that experience might give him a different perspective than most.

But still. That's a very antiquated line of thinking even for most casual fans listening to the broadcast. And it's an especially silly thing to say when the game was very much in play (the Cardinals were up 4-2 and the Twins had two aboard), and when considering Matheny waited too long to remove starter Jack Flaherty just the day before.

Later, Horton stated that one of his problems with pulling the starter earlier per the current trend is that it puts the game in the hands of various relievers, one of whom could be having a bad day. I don't agree with that position, the third time through the order penalty for starters is a real thing (MLB starters have a 5.72 ERA the third time through in 2018), but it's a much better line of reasoning than believing a starer deserves the chance to get a meaningless stat at the expense of the team. Horton needs to do better.

Position and batting order production

In the first edition of the 10.5, I looked at the Cardinals' production by positions and batting order using wRC+ and promised that down the road I would compare it to the National League average. Let's do that now. (Stats through Thursday evening, and I've bolded the Cardinals when they've outperformed league average.)

Position (by wRC+)

Pitcher: STL: -7; NL: -20

Catcher: STL: 75; NL: 98

First Base: STL: 125; NL: 115

Second Base: STL: 78; NL: 100

Third Base: STL: 97; NL: 109

Shortstop: STL: 127; NL: 89

Left Field: STL: 74; NL: 96

Center Field: STL: 153; NL: 104

Right Field: STL: 77; NL: 100

Pinch Hitters: STL: 40; NL: 77

Batting Order (by wRC+)

1. STL: 92; NL: 96

2. STL: 138; NL: 110

3. STL: 86; NL: 123

4. STL: 80; NL: 117

5. STL: 114; NL: 107

6. STL: 96; NL: 100

7. STL: 112; NL: 83

8. STL: 91; NL: 68

9. STL: 18; NL: 33

You can see the Tommy Pham and José Martínez-effect at play here. But what most sticks out is how much the Cardinals are getting killed at the #3 and clean-up spot, and at the corners in the outfield. Not ideal, those spots are important.

Boo this man

Where did that come from? Completely uncalled for, Grant.

Recent words written about baseball that are worth reading

  • Could speedy Cardinals of the 80s compete in today's game? by David Schoenfield of I've seen this sort of analysis done before and I love it every time. Schoenfield takes a look at the 1987 Cardinals and tries to find parallels in today's game (e.g., Joey Votto is Jack Clark; Andrelton Simmons is the Wizard), and asks the age-old question of whether Whiteyball could survive today. He thinks it could.

  • Flu-Like Symptoms: Records That Will Never Be Broken (Part 2) by Rob Mains of Baseball Prospectus. This is about not-often-thought-about records that will likely never be broken considering the current era of baseball. It's behind the paywall but here's a brief but pertinent to our interests piece from the column. On Ozzie Smith and his 621 shortstop assist record from 1980:

The record Smith broke was set by Pirates shortstop Glenn Wright, with 601 all the way back in 1924. Smith won his first Gold Glove that year. Since 1978, there have been 35 shortstop seasons with more than 515 assists: Ozzie Smith in 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1987, and 1988 (1981 was a strike season and Smith missed time with injuries in 1984 and 1986), and 17 other guys spread over 27 seasons. The only players to do it more than twice are Cal Ripken Jr. with four and Smith with eight.
A lot of supposedly great defensive players don’t match the hype when you dig into their performance: Derek Jeter, Andrew McCutchen, and Eric Hosmer come to mind recently. Smith was recognized as probably the best-fielding shortstop ever. He probably was.

Remember, if there's an article or blog that you think should be highlighted in this feature, feel free to hit me up via e-mail (alcrisafulli at gmail).

Tonight's game was not fun to watch. That happens when you play 162 of these things although it's been happening too often. Therefore, instead of thinking about that, let's watch Stephen Piscotty's home run from earlier this week, his first at-bat after returning from bereavement leave following the death of his mother. Have a great weekend, everyone.


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