On-Base Percentage Key to Cards' Sweep

Table-setters made Reggie Sanders' job easier

What a stunning National League Division Series Reggie Sanders had!  His ten runs batted in set a new NLDS record for most RBI in a series, and he is clearly the series MVP.  Yet when one examines the numbers a little more closely, the key to the sweep may lie in the excellent on-base percentage generated by the heart of the Cardinal batting order; in other words, the extent to which his teammates set the table for Sanders.


Five Cardinal starters generated compelling offensive statistics in driving the three-game sweep over the San Diego Padres.  Baseball aficionados that we are, let's look at the stats:

  • Diminutive shortstop David Eckstein batted .385 and had an OBP of .429.  Now those are the numbers one likes to see in a lead-off batter. 
  • I said before the series that Jim Edmonds was the key to the offense in that he provided protection to Albert Pujols and set the stage for the rest of the order.  Jimmy Ballgame didn't disappoint as he batted .364 with a .462 OBP (on-base percentage).  You might be surprised to learn that Edmonds actually led the team in runs scored with five.  His OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) for the series was 1.280.
  • Darkhorse third baseman Abraham Nunez, filling in so wonderfully for Scott Rolen, also batted .364 with a .462 OBP.  He finished with three runs scored.
  • Reggie Sanders actually didn't lead the team in any of these categories with the enormous exception of clutch hitting with runners in scoring position.  Sanders batted .333 in the series with a .385 OBP.
  • Albert the Great was simply huge.  Pujols showed all of baseball why he is the best player in the game today.  He batted .556 (no typo, folk!).  His on-base percentage was .692.  Add in his .778 slugging percentage and his OPS is 1.470.  He was second to Edmonds as he crossed the plate four times in the series.


While other Cardinals didn't enjoy the statistical success of the aforementioned five, Mark Grudzielanek had some timely hits and Yadier Molina's slap single to right in the final game was a marvelous piece of hitting for the young catcher.  So Taguchi, in limited playing time, had a nice series.  His hustle and determination that we take for granted were on full display before a national audience.  Larry Walker struggled offensively but made some excellent defensive plays in right field.


In congratulating Reggie for a terrific series that featured a first game grand slam on a 3-0 green light, remember that a grand slam requires three other players to succeed ahead of him.  Same situation in the final game.  Sanders has long been known as a streaky offensive player and he struggled mightily for the two weeks in September when he returned from the DL.  Starting with the regular season sweep of the Reds, Sanders unlumbered his bat and hasn't looked back.  If he can sustain his torrid clutch hitting, and his teammates can continue to set the table for him, all of Cardinal Nation may share in the feast in the post-season.


Rex Duncan


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