Cardinals news from a Sabermetric point of view

Glory days (have passed the Cardinals by?)

I had a friend was a big baseball player back in high school
He could throw that speedball by you, make you look like a fool boy
Saw him the other night at this roadside bar
I was walking in, he was walking out
We went back inside sat down had a few drinks,
but all he kept talking about was
Glory days, well they’ll pass you by, glory days,
in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days

– Bruce Springsteen

Rather than emotionally piling on the criticism being heaped on Jeff Suppan and more properly Tony La Russa for the latest of the retro signings, we’d like to take a look too see just whether the caterwauling is justified. Like Springsteen’s song, we couldn’t escape the notion that La Runcan is trying to revisit bygone glory days, so we had an idea. Let’s review the Wins Above Replacement since 2001 for each man on the 25-man roster — including Suppan but minus Adam Ottavino and Fernando Salas. We’ll then average all values to see which year has the highest — and is therefore theoretically the current team’s "glory year." Obviously, if that comes out to be last year (we didn’t include 2010 because of the partial stats), then the outcry is perhaps unwarranted. If it’s something prior to that, though, fans have a legitimate gripe.

Player 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Albert Pujols 7.7 5.7 9.5 7.9 7.9 8.3 8.4 9.3 8.7
Jeff Suppan 3.3 2.3 2.9 1.3 1.5 1.6 2.5 -0.2 -0.7
Chris Carpenter 2.9 0.7 3.2 6.8 5.2 0.0 0.4 5.6
Jason LaRue 1.9 1.7 2.0 2.4 3.0 0.1 -0.3 0.4 0.3
Felipe Lopez 0.6 0.1 -1.0 0.3 4.7 1.8 0.6 0.9 3.9
Dennys Reyes 0.5 0.5 0.0 1.7 -0.2 1.1 0.1 0.6 0.2
Randy Winn 0.4 4.5 3.3 3.9 4.8 1.7 2.7 5.0 1.6
Ryan Franklin -0.1 1.3 0.9 1.1 0.9 -0.7 0.6 -0.4 0.9
Ryan Ludwick -0.1 1.2 0.1 -0.1 2.2 5.4 2.0
Aaron Miles 0.1 -0.2 -0.8 -0.3 0.0 1.9 -1.4
Trever Miller 0.0 1.0 -0.2 0.5 -0.1 0.7 0.5
Matt Holliday 1.1 2.9 4.0 7.1 5.7 5.5
Yadier Molina 0.6 1.7 0.4 2.3 3.0 3.8
Adam Wainwright -0.1 1.1 3.5 2.2 5.7
Skip Schumaker -0.3 -0.2 0.5 2.3 1.5
Brendan Ryan 1.0 0.3 2.7
Jason Motte 0.6 -0.3
Kyle McClellan 0.4 0.3
Blake Hawksworth 0.1
Mitchell Boggs -0.4 0.6
Jaime Garcia -0.4
Nick Stavinoha -0.6 -0.6
Colby Rasmus 2.3
David Freese 0.2
Total 17.2 16.7 18.9 24.4 32.5 24.6 31.1 37.2 43.3
Average/player 2.2 1.9 1.9 1.9 2.2 1.8 1.9 1.7 2.0

In short, the current roster put up its best numbers in … 2005. In case you’re counting, that was five years ago. Yes, this is a team built for 2005. Now granted, this exercise has its flaws. But the point remains: The latest three additions — Suppan, Aaron Miles and Randy Winn — have brought the team down. Indeed, if you remove their WAR values from the exercise, the best year suddenly becomes 2009.

So if it appears that the Cardinals have been going in reverse lately, it’s because they have.

Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
A little of the glory of, well time slips away
And leaves you with nothing mister but
Boring stories of glory days

One Response to “Glory days (have passed the Cardinals by?)”

  1. neunie Says:

    Matt,

    You have hit this one on the head. The common thought is that LaRussa prefers veterans, but I feel like they are moving in the wrong direction with these more recent signings. I guess we’ll find out in October if they were the right moves or not.

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