Bernie Miklasz has a column over at stltoday.com that takes a look at the Cardinals' recent success vs. Milwaukee, and examines some of the reasons behind the Cards' great start to the '08 season. Namely, Bernie cites:
* Intelligent starting pitching;
* Strong bullpen;
* Exceptional defense;
* Quality at-bats from the offense; and
* A "subtly" aggressive manager in LaRussa.
So is there statistical support for Bernie's assertions? You bet. Here's a look at key statistical indicators thus far:
1) St. Louis is 2nd in the NL in Team ERA (3.11);
2) St. Louis' starting pitchers sport a 9-2 record and 3.13 ERA;
3) The Cards' bullpen is first in ERA in the NL at 3.07;
4) The pitching staff overall has walked the second-fewest batters in the NL (41);
5) The bullpen has walked the fewest batters in the NL (15);
6) Cardinals batters are first in the NL in on-base percentage (.361);
7) Cards are third in the NL in OPS (.801);
8) St. Louis ranks first in the NL in batting average (.277); and
9) St. Louis ranks third in the NL in batting average with runners on base (.295).
As far as defensive stats go, the Cards basic defensive stats (errors, assists, putouts, total chances, fielding percentage) place them in the middle of the NL. If someone has more advanced stats such as zone rating, don't hesitate to send them my way.
The bottom line on all of this is that the Cards are doing the things they need to do in order to win ballgames. The offense is not carrying the team, but it's contributing admirably. The pitching staff has been great, but not dominant. And the defense has been strong enough to keep the team from giving away slim leads (e.g., Pujols' defense in the ninth inning of last night's game). All facets are "clicking" for this team right now, and it's damn fun to watch.