In the table below this entry, I put every World Series team from 1995-2011, with the winner on top. I used 5 stats, 2 for pitching, 3 for hitting. For the pitching stats, I used ERA and strikeouts. For the offensive stats, I used BA, Runs and OPS. All of the stats are included with the rankings from the NL and AL in those years. I started this table as a way to show that good pitching beats good hitting almost all of the time. After going over the stats from World Series teams from 1995-2011, I came up with stats that support my argument, but I also proved something else. The one thing that stands out is that the Cardinals have defied the odds, and the one constant in all of that is Dave Duncan.
In the 17 World Series since the strike of 1994 and the 34 teams in the World Series, only 10 of them have finished out of the top 5 in strikeouts, and 3 of them were the pitching staffs of the St. Louis Cardinals led by Dave Duncan. One of the teams were the 1997 Cleveland Indians, who finished 6th. Only two World Series have had teams since 1995 that have had pitching staffs both not in the top 5. One was in 2002, when the Angels beat the Giants. The Angels were 8th with 999 team strikeouts, and the Giants were 13th with 992 strikeouts. The other was in 2006, when the Cardinals beat the Tigers. The Cardinals were 14th with 970 strikeouts, and the Tigers were 9th with 1003 K’s.
In the Cardinals 3 World Series trips since 1995, they have finished 10th, 14th, and 13th in strikeouts, in that order. Just to show how remarkable that is, look at the strikeout totals in the table below for the World Series teams.
I’m not going to lie here, I actually started this project as a way to prove not only that dominant pitching beats good hitting, but as reason number one not to re-sign Albert Pujols. It has been my stance and will continue to be that the Cardinals shouldn’t put the future of the Cardinals in jeopardy by giving a 32 year old first baseman a contract that will cripple the team for years. For the most part, the data shows what I thought it would. Most teams don’t make it to the WS without having a dominant pitching staff. When they do, dominant pitching usually wins out.
There’s been a lot of talk over the years of Duncan being the first pitching coach in the Hall of Fame. It truly is remarkable what he’s done. If these stats show one thing to me, it’s that the Cardinals should put whoever is going to be the next pitching coach after Duncan under his wings now. If the future of the Cardinals plays out as we all think it will with the pitching staff, it’s unlikely that the Cardinals will return to the WS without a dominant pitching staff. However, Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez and others may not turn out as well as we hope. The Cardinals might have to do what they’ve done in the past, and get the most out of pitchers like Jeff Suppan (5.0 SO/9), Kyle Lohse (5.6 SO/9), Jeff Weaver (5.9 SO/9). They’ll need Duncan’s playbook for that.
Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Chris Carpenter and Miller might lead the charge for the next team that makes it to the WS. The Cardinals won’t start 2012 with mistakes in the bullpen such as Ryan Franklin and Miguel Batista. Hopefully the days of having pitch to contact set-up men and closers are over. The Cardinals have plenty of power arms for 2012 and beyond that should rank them in the top 5 in K’s. It’s exciting to think of how good the team will be from the start in 2012, as I believe the team they have will be better than most think, even if Pujols leaves, because of the dominance in the young power arms they have, and the return of Wainwright.