After alternating taking beatings with delivering beatings over the past 8 weeks, the Cardinals have finally taken the fencepost out thoust ass and put together a 5 game winning streak that has pushed their record to 5 games over .500.
Still 3 back of the Reds in the loss column, the Cardinals have at least separated themselves from the Pirates. A win, I suppose, considering they've been languishing behind the Bucs for the past two weeks. But a perfunctory look at the standings also reveal two stats that are startling.
That's the run differential for the Cardinals in 2012. Meaning, the Cardinals have scored 71 more runs than their opponents in the 75 games they've played. 71! The next best in the NL? 38 (Reds).
The Cardinals are on pace to nearly score 1 full run more per game than their opponents. That's the sign of not just a good team, but a GREAT team. If you're scoring at at +.70 or more pace over the course of the season, you're going to be in the playoffs barring some bad luck and/or playing in a division with an even better team (the Rangers lead MLB with a +89).
Problem is, the Cardinals are 5 games over .500. The Rangers and their +89 are 16 over .500. Meaning the Cardinals are have, technically speaking, pissed away at least 8 games they should have won. And a quick jog of the memory feels like this is about spot on. And while the Cardinals have had momentary laps in pitching, overall, the staff/pen has been serviceable.
If this run differential continues on it's current pace, this Cardinals team will be in the playoffs. Sure, the 10+ run drubbings of teams like the Royals and Astros pad this. Still, this number is a good barometer of a teams overall postseason potential.
The Cardinals have one of the best home field advantages in baseball. Tuesday July night against the Pirates? Full house.
So the fact that their home record is very average. And that they're 4 games over .500 on the road bodes well for the Cardinals. They've got a nice little 10 game stand at home after the finale with the Marlins in Miami. You figure coming home hot, with a fan base that was ready to see any signs of life is going to be a positive.
Oh, and those 10 are against the Pirates, Marlins and struggling Rockies and their new 4 man rotation.
That's enough positivity for one day. Get back to your cube dwelling.