Welcome to the return of the 10.5, an ideally-but-probably-not bi-weekly feature on the current goings-on with the Cardinals. We're doing well here. The Cardinals just completed a four-game sweep of the Dodgers, who entered the series as the best team in the National League, and as a result the Cardinals are currently in first place in the NL Central and have the highest playoff odds in the division according to FanGraphs.
It's true we're not even 10 percent into the season but we can quibble with that on a later date. The Cardinals also now hold the all-time series lead against the Dodgers at 1,030-1,029 and that's just a tremendous stat.
Where art thou, single?
Last Thursday, Joe Sheehan noted in his newsletter that the single is basically going the way of the stolen base in Major League Baseball.
None of that is really what’s on my mind today, though. No, it’s something more fundamental than that.
[Insert “Singles” Pun Here] (1B/PA)
Singles are disappearing, and I mean quickly. From the end of World War II up until 2015, singles occurred in 15-17% of plate appearances and about 21% of events on contact. The only four seasons in baseball history in which singles haven’t been above 15% of PAs are the last four. The last time singles accounted for fewer than 21% of events on contact was 1888 (20.8%). The number was 21% last year, and is 19.7% in 2019.
The 1B/PA figure has risen a tad since last Thursday and is near 13.4 percent as of this morning. It's a curious stat, nonetheless, as you don't have to watch a baseball game for too long in 2019 to realize that teams just don't put the ball in play quite like they used to. To wit: Around 36 percent of all plate appearances thus far have resulted in a home run, walk, or strikeout.
The Cardinals are at the forefront of this trend. They have the second fewest singles in the NL (49) after the Reds, and have a 1B/PA rate of 10.8 percent. And 38.8 percent of their plate appearances have ended in one of the three true outcomes (home run, walk, strikeout). Do we care about this so early in the season or even at all? Probably not. At the very least, I won't complain until it stops working.
How do we feel about Paul Goldschmidt so far?
Take away one game and Paul Goldschmidt is having a pretty rough go of it to start his career with the Cardinals. After almost 60 plate appearances, he's hitting .180/.305/.540, with a wRC+ of 112 (DRC+ paints a bit of a prettier picture although not included here is his 0-5 Thursday). Those are some rough numbers - let's remember he had a dreadful start to the 2018 season and turned out just fine - with the exception of his slugging which has been very Goldschmidt-like. And that's because of his nine hits this season, six have been homers.
Things will balance out. Goldschmidt will not finish the year with more home runs than other total hits. It has happened before though. In 2001, Mark McGwire finished the season with 29 home runs and just 56 total hits. No one else in the history of baseball has ever hit at least 20 home runs with fewer singles, doubles, and triples combined. However, Matt Olson almost joined this rather cool club (I think it's a cool club, at least) in 2017 with 24 home runs and 49 total hits.
The Spanish broadcast
I have tried and failed to learn Spanish several times during my life and I can't imagine how wonderful it would have been had I had access to the Spanish feed for Cardinals games when I was in my formative years as a way to perhaps learn by osmosis. Just listen to this great call by Bengie Molina and Polo Ascencio on Yadier Molina's home run in the third game of the Dodgers series:
That's good stuff. We should all listen to the Spanish broadcast every so often because Bengie and Polo do a great job and it really is never too late to try and pick up a another language - even if you have failed repeatedly like I have - or to hone the skills you already have.
Recent words written about baseball that are worth reading
Adam Wainwright and Pedro Martínez of the Philadelphia Phillies by Ben Godar of Viva El Birdos. Ben was our guest on the most recent Chirps podcast and he explained why 2019 Adam Wainwright reminds him of Pedro's final season with the Phillies, and he goes into that idea a bit further here.
Banjo Hitter: Willians Astudillo is proving it by Aaron Gleeman of Baseball Prospectus ($). Yes, he doesn't look like your average MLB player. Yes, he still has fewer than 130 plate appearances for his career. But maybe this guy is just good.
A clean sweep - Ascensio goes from custodian to Cardinals' Spanish broadcaster by Benjamin Hochman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This is a good piece on the aforementioned Ascensio and Hochman writes this sort of story as well as anyone.
Wrigley Field removes iconic ivy from urinal troughs by the Onion. An oldie but a goodie.
That's all for this week. The Cardinals are currently in Monterrey, Mexico, for a two-game series with the Reds beginning tomorrow. Have a great weekend and please donate to the Be Like Mik campaign if you are feeling so kind. Go Cardinals.