How important is Dave Duncan to the St. Louis Cardinals?

Dave Duncan is coming back to the St. Louis Cardinals on a two year deal with an option for 2013.  I haven’t met or heard too many Cardinal fans that think Dave Duncan is overrated, but I talked to one today.  So I thought I would take a brief look at the Cardinals team ERA over the last 10 years, and see where they rank.  Cardinals ERA since 2000:

2000—4.38(7th)

Leader—Atlanta—4.05

2001—3.93(3rd)

Leader—Atlanta—3.59

2002—3.70(4th)

Leader—Atlanta—3.13

2003—4.60(11th)

Leader—LA Dodgers—3.16

2004—3.75(2nd)

Leader—Atlanta—3.74

2005—3.49(1st)

2006—4.54(9th)

Leader—San Diego—3.87

2007—4.65(11th)

Leader—San Diego—3.70

2008—4.19(7th)

Leader—LA Dodgers—3.68

2009—3.66(4th)

Leader—LA Dodgers—3.41

2010—3.57(4th)

Leader—SF Giants—3.36

It’s no surprise that the Cardinals were in the top 2 in both 2004 and 2005.  It’s also not surprising that the Atlanta Braves were very strong from 2000-05.  The Braves had Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz coached by Leo Mazzone.  I always wondered how Leo Mazzone ranked all-time among pitching coaches, and it’s hard to determine because of the names he had to work with.  Considering the Cardinals finished 2nd in 2004 in ERA with a starting staff of Matt Morris, Jason Marquis, Woody Williams, Jeff Suppan and Chris Carpenter, you have to be impressed.  Throw in Cal Eldred in the bullpen, who played in a huge role that year, and I don’t see how he could be overrated.

While ERA doesn’t give the whole picture, I think it’s a good gauge of what Dave Duncan has done.  If you look at some other statistics, you’ll notice the Cardinals are always near the top for fewest walks, and rarely in the top 10 in strikeouts.  But we know this, the Dave Duncan philosophy is to try to get ground ball outs, always has been.

I don’t know if Dave Duncan will be the first pitching coach to make the Hall of Fame, or if he will make the hall of fame at all, but I think every Cardinal fan is a little nervous about the years after he leaves the Cardinals.  I hope that the replacement is Marty Mason is someone the Cardinals can have to pick the brain of Duncan over the next few years, and use that knowledge when Dave retires.

My question to most Cardinal fans is this:  Do you think Dave Duncan is overrated?  Do you agree with his style of preaching ground balls, or would you rather have a more dominant stuff in terms of strikeouts?  I think the Cardinals have a very balanced staff in this regard now, with Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia and hopefully Jake Westbrook and a healthy Kyle Lohse.

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