No team in baseball has a longer active postseason streak than the Cardinals. St. Louis has gone to the playoffs in each of the last five seasons, but, if the postseason started today, the Cardinals would be on the outside looking in.
Thursday night, the Cardinals lost to the Brewers (MIL 12, STL 5) at Busch Stadium in the first game of a seven-game homestand. The loss dropped St. Louis out of the second wild-card spot and a half-game behind the Mets. There’s still more than three weeks left in the season, sure, but right now the Cardinals are not in postseason position.
Long seven-game homestands are always nice, especially late in the season when everyone is tired and banged up. The Cardinals might rather be out on the road right now though. Thursday’s loss to the Brewers dropped St. Louis to an unfathomable 30-38 at home this season. 30-38!
The Cardinals currently have a .441 winning percentage at home in 2016, fifth worst in all of baseball. The four teams with a worse home winning percentage are basically the four worst teams in baseball: Braves (.333), Diamondbacks (.368), Twins (.389), and Phillies (.435). That’s the company the Cardinals are keeping.
Thursday night’s game notwithstanding, pitching at home has not been an issue for St. Louis this season. They came into Thursday with a 4.02 ERA at home and a 4.04 ERA on the road. Generally speaking, the Cardinals are allowing a similar number of runs regardless of where they play this season.
The difference is the offense. The Cardinals are averaging 4.45 runs per game at home this year compared to 5.45 runs per game on the road. That’s a huge difference! Exactly a run per game. That’s incredible. Check out their home run totals:
At home: 87 in 68 games (1.28 per game)
On the road: 115 in 71 games (1.62 per game)
Unlike some of the Cardinals teams we’ve seen in recent years, the 2016 Cardinals are all about the long ball. Their 202 home runs are the second most in baseball, behind only the Orioles (219). We’re used to seeing St. Louis score runs by grinding out at-bats and stringing together singles and doubles, things like that.
These Cardinals rely on hitting the ball out of the ballpark, and their home building isn’t necessarily conducive to the long ball. The Park Factors at FanGraphs say Busch Stadium suppresses home runs to 94 percent of a neutral ballpark. Only six stadiums are less friendly to home runs.
A home run-hitting team in spacious ballpark is a bad combination, but if you fancy yourself a contender, I’m not sure it’s a valid excuse. Good teams can win in different ways, and the Cardinals are indeed a good team, but they’re done a really poor job at home. It’s hard to believe, really.
At this point the damage is done. The Cardinals have only 13 home games remaining, so those 38 losses are in the bank. Nothing they can do about them. St. Louis can only control those 13 remaining home games and they’ll absolutely have to play better in Busch Stadium than they have been so far.
The major-league average is a .535 winning percentage at home. Had the Cardinals been able to match that, they’d be 36-32 at home instead of 30-38, and firmly in postseason position. Instead, home field has been a disadvantage, and for at least one night, St. Louis is on the outside of the postseason picture looking in.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / The Cardinals keep losing at home, and it’s costing them a postseason spot