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Playing the wrong kind of baseball

Unfortunately, since I am an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan, the 2011 Cardinals are a prime example of playing the wrong kind of baseball in the wrong league. What do I mean by that statement?

The Cardinals have played good old-fashioned American League baseball, moving from base to base, one at a time in a methodical way to score runs, occasionally scoring a lot of runs via home run.

The problem is that the Cardinals play in the National League and that style of baseball has historically not done well over the course of a full season. It’s easy to understand how the team fell into this type of game, with the likes of Albert Pujos, arguably the best hitter in the game, Matt Holladay, a muscular, power hitter who protected Pujos in the lineup, and then acquired Lance Berkman, whose resurgence since he was written off by the Houston Astros, he’s the stuff of Hollywood movies, the lineup is potent.

However, what is the great debate? “Good pitching stops good hitting” and that has proven true many times throughout the season. When the Cardinals click, they provide an offensive display that few other clubs in the majors can compete with, but when they don’t click, the game turns into dull, hard-to-watch frustration.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with having a power-packed hitting lineup, and the Cardinals’ failures this year may contribute to more than just playing the wrong kind of baseball, but one problem at a time.

The Cardinals have posted more double plays, an alarming number more, than any baseball club in any league. Some will argue that it’s a result of the Cardinals’ high team batting average, which translates to more runners on base, thus more opportunities to hit for double plays.

To some extent, that reasoning is valid, however, if the Cardinals traditionally put a lot of runners on base during a normal game, it would seem worth the risk to have runners moving through the net. Steal or Hit & Run instead of sitting still waiting for a home run or hit in the gap.

East non aggressive offensive play on base paths leaves the pitcher confident that he can devote his full attention to getting the batter out, and just an occasional courtesy pass to first is enough.

This situation allows the pitcher to throw “his” pitch to the batter, resulting in a record year for hits in double plays. The double game is not only the pitcher’s best friend, but it breaks the morale of a baseball team faster than any other offensive play. It doesn’t really matter if your leadoff hitter gets to first base safely every inning, if the next hitter puts him out on a DP.

National League baseball historically played an aggressive offense on base paths, while the American League lumbered forward with power hits. Both styles are effective, but mixing one style with the other for a full year isn’t productive, as the Cardinals are discovering as they fade into oblivion and fall out of the playoff picture.

The two different styles must collide in a fall event known as the world series, and not during the season.

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