Bill Ivie at i70baseball.com recently asked the United Cardinal Bloggers about the biggest Cardinal killers in baseball today. We went ahead and looked up some numbers (big surprise, we know) for players with enough appearances to matter. Statistically, the biggest Cardinal killers in the league today are Jim Thome — the all-time active Cardinal killer — with a .430 BA/.565 OBP/1.010 SLG. The second-biggest is the man who will recover his position from Thome, Ryan Howard, who crushes not only Kyle Lohse‘s pitches, but pretty much everyone else’s on the staff (.360/.478/.707). Angel Pagan (.368/.432/.579), David Wright (.320/.425/.465) and Hanley Ramirez (.306/.411/.468) all bring their A game when they play the Cardinals. Fortunately, they’re all in either the East or West, so they won’t get as many chances as the Cardinals’ Central-Division rivals, who really don’t possess any Cardinal killers, now that Prince Fielder (.278/.406/.491) is gone. Jose Tabata (.341/.400/.476) has been a thorn in the Cards’ side. And if the Pirates can convince Tabata’s former teammate Derrek Lee (.316/.398/.553) to return, they’d have another surefire weapon against St. Louis. Brett Wallace hasn’t faced them much (64 PAs), but when he has, he has gotten his revenge (.321/.438/.396).
Oddly enough, three of the biggest Cardinal killers now play for them. Lance Berkman (.313 .415 .601) and Matt Holliday (.394 .475 .750) both have better-than-career marks against their current team. And although he doesn’t have the regular-season bona fides (.258/.344/.463), Carlos Beltran has ripped the Cardinals in the playoffs (63 PAs) to the damage of .357/.476/.815.
But maybe it’s not so strange, after all. It’s possible that John Mozeliak and the front office have fallen prey to a bit of confirmation bias. That is, they (like all of us) tend to privilege their own experiences. So when the Cardinals have witnessed the likes of Big Puma, Big Country and Big-Game Beltran raking the Cardinal pitching staff, those players’ performances are elevated in the their memories. Not that they’re not accomplished players, of course. But even in the case of Rafael Furcal, it’s possible that the Cardinals have an undue appreciation of his gifts based on how much better he performed in his career against them: .344/.388/.444 compared with a career line of .282/.348/.408.
And it’s not just Mozeliak. Larry Walker had a .371/.445/.695 line before the Cardinals traded for him, and Reggie Sanders played well over his head when he came to town (.317/.395/.575), as did Ron Gant (.303/.402/.586).
That history makes their lack of pursuit of Roy Oswalt a bit strange, given that Oswalt has been the most successful pitcher against the Cardinals (with a minimum 100 IP), posting a 3.19 ERA against them with a 3.84 K/BB. Time still remains, however. Will the Cardinals unconsciously consider what Oswalt has done to them, or will they hold out an objective view against their nemesis?