The Cardinals are coming off another successful season — better, in fact, than their .543 actual winning percentage indicated. With a +117 run differential in 2012, they had a .582 Pythagorean winning percentage. Check out their recent performance by actual and Pythagorean winning percentages, and division finishes:
Pythagorean winning percentage can help smooth out the ups and downs of actual records. Bill James once wrote that “When a team improves sharply one season they will almost always decline in the next,” but Pythagorean records sometimes show a truer level of performance. Using trendlines, we can see that the team has been riding a strong wave over the last four years:
To give you a longer-term perspective, here’s the team’s performance since 1982:
So the team looks like it’s in good shape for 2013. Another, more anecdotal indicator, is the recent news that they acquired (and possibly overspent for) Randy Choate. What’s that got to do with it? When your #1 to-do in the offseason is to obtain a LOOGy (and be willing to pay a lot for him), either the core pieces are in place for a playoff run, or your GM is out to lunch. We’re betting on the former.