3 Stats That Prove the Cardinals Are World Series Contenders
The St. Louis Cardinals had a successful run in 2019, making the playoffs for the first time since 2015 and reaching the NLCS. They will be looking to go one step further in 2020 by bringing their young team to the World Series.
At FanDuel Sportsbook, the Cardinals sit at +2200 to win the World Series, the ninth-best odds on the market. While the Cardinals are in a competitive NL Central this year, their main rivals, the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs, made no significant additions. The Cincinnati Reds have made a flurry of signings, but their team is still unproven.
That leaves the Cardinals in a good position to return to the playoffs and make a serious run at the World Series. Without further ado, here are three stats that prove they can get there.
1. Jack Flaherty's Stunning Second Half
There was significant hype for Jack Flaherty going into 2019. He was projected to be the Cardinals' staff ace and was a must-have young pitcher for fantasy teams. Things didn't go well to start—Flaherty had a 4.64 ERA in the first half and looked overmatched. Then, he produced one of the best stretches by a 24-year-old pitcher in league history. Flaherty carried the Cardinals down the stretch, dominating to the tune of a 0.91 ERA, a 5.39 K/BB, and a 0.71 WHIP. If Flaherty can repeat this level for an entire season, he will fully establish himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball. With a true staff ace, the Cardinals can once again make a deep playoff run.
2. An Excellent Bullpen
The Cardinals were able to make good use of some young arms in the bullpen in 2019. They ranked sixth in MLB with a 3.88 bullpen ERA (third in the NL) and had a number of breakout successes. Carlos Martinez had a solid year at closer, picking up 24 saves with a 3.17 ERA. The Cardinals also saw great performances from Giovanny Gallegos, John Brebbia, and John Gant, all of whom had ERA under 3.70. Gallegos appears to be one of the brightest young relievers in the game—he had a 2.31 ERA and 3.05 FIP over 74 innings to go with a fantastic 5.81 K/BB. Gallegos is reportedly shifting to the closer role as Martinez eyes a return to the rotation. The Cardinals also have flamethrower Jordan Hicks coming back from Tommy John and signed Korean lefty Kwang-hyun Kim to anchor the staff. In the end, the amount of high-quality pitching on the roster bodes well for the Cardinals' World Series odds.
3. Better Batted-Ball Luck is on the Way
MLB's Statcast leaderboards are always full of interesting insights, and their ranking of team xwOBA (expected weighted on-base average) is showing that the Cardinals' hitters were unlucky last season. The way xwOBA works is that Statcast takes a hitter's contact profile (exit velocity, launch angle, etc.) and projects what their weighted on-base average should have been. By this metric, Cardinals hitters had the third-largest difference between what they should've hit and what they actually hit, as their xwOBA was .322 but their actual wOBA was .314. That difference of 0.008 may not seem like much, but that could be worth dozens of runs over the course of the season. To simplify, the Cardinals hitters were, overall, making good contact but not getting results that they should have. Given that the Cardinals are bringing back most of their offense from last season, one would expect their hitting to regress to the mean and make significant gains in 2020.
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Tristan Jung is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Tristan Jung also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username tristan1117. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.