Regular readers here know that I am big proponent of reviewing past history to suggest what may occur in the future. While the method is not foolproof, I always feel I have a stronger position when I can point to a possible repeat of previous behavior.
And so it goes with the St. Louis Cardinals post-season roster construction.
In 2009, some of the suspense has been taken out of the basic question of pitcher-position player balance when General Manager John Mozeliak told MLB.com recently that the club is leaning toward 11 and 14, respectively, for the first round of the playoffs.
Still, that wasn't a big surprise given what the club has done in recent years.
Cardinals post-season roster construction by round since 1996 (pitchers-position players)
The first thing I am reminded is the smashing success of the Cardinals in the NLDS, with six wins in seven tries under La Russa. Impressive.
For the last three post-seasons, the 11 pitchers, 14 position player formula has been religiously followed. In projecting 2009, I see no reason to go against what Mozeliak said and what the club has been doing most recently.
Yet the split has changed a bit over the years. The 2001-2002 post-seasons are the only times the club went with 12 pitchers. Though La Russa had all those pitchers at his disposal, he never used more than ten. More on that below.
Back in the early days, La Russa went in the other direction, going with just ten pitchers in 1996 and 2000. Even then, he didn't use them all. Details following.
In any given post-season, only once between rounds did the mix change. In 2000, a pitcher was dropped between the League Division Series and League Championship Series in favor of an extra position player. Garrett Stephenson lost out in favor of third catcher Rick Wilkins.
However, players were swapped out between rounds two other times. Both were pitcher-pitcher exchanges.
Cardinals roster changes, post-season by round since 1996
Al Reyes 2002
Taking this one step further, I was interested in the number of players that did not appear in any game action. Often this is expected to be the sentence bestowed upon the second catcher, but it turns out to have happened far more often with pitchers.
In the table below, I decided to name each player in a small bit of recognition for their excellence in post-season bench warming that otherwise might have been lost in the annals of Cardinals history.
Cardinals players active but not appearing in game action, post-season since 1996
Four players remained stuck to the bench for consecutive rounds – Einar Diaz and Ray King in 2005 along with Jason Simontacchi and Garrett Stephenson in 2002. Three players sat out the LDS in consecutive seasons – Jason Marquis in 2005 and 2006, Hector Luna in 2004 and 2005 and Luther Hackman in 2001 and 2002.
Of course, if the LDS goes four or five games, it only stands to reason that more players may appear, but on the average, three of the 25 active players do not appear in the first round.
By the second round, less than one
player per year has not seen action. This includes an active but injured Scott Rolen in the 2002 LCS. In one
World Series, 2004, everyone played, but two players did not appear during
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