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Cardinal Sin?
2006-10-26 22:45
by Mike Carminati

A slippery field and another errant throw by a Tiger pitcher and we are at the doorstep of an unprecedented World Series victory. I don't think anyone is considering how bad a team the Cardinals are based on the regular season record and how unique their winning a World Series will be.

Sure, there have been mediocre teams that have won a World Series before—the Twins won just 85 games before a dome-aided championship year in 1987—but none have been this mediocre.

Let me demonstrate. First here are the worst baseball champions by winning percentage including the 2006 Cardinals:

2006St. Louis Cardinals8378.516
1987Minnesota Twins8577.525
2000New York Yankees8774.540
1974Oakland Athletics9072.556
2003Florida Marlins9171.562
1990Cincinnati Reds9171.562
1985Kansas City Royals9171.562
1980Philadelphia Phillies9171.562
1959Los Angeles Dodgers8868.564
1945Detroit Tigers8865.568
2001Arizona Diamondbacks9270.568
1997Florida Marlins9270.568
1996New York Yankees9270.568
1982St. Louis Cardinals9270.568
1926St. Louis Cardinals8965.571

Now, here are the ones with the least wins:

1981Los Angeles Dodgers6347.573
1918Boston Red Sox7551.595
1887Detroit Wolverines7945.622
2006St. Louis Cardinals8378.516
1889New York Giants8343.634
1888New York Giants8447.609
1884Providence Grays8428.737
1987Minnesota Twins8577.525
2000New York Yankees8774.540
1959Los Angeles Dodgers8868.564
1945Detroit Tigers8865.568
1926St. Louis Cardinals8965.571
1995Atlanta Braves9054.625
1974Oakland Athletics9072.556
2003Florida Marlins9171.562
1990Cincinnati Reds9171.562
1985Kansas City Royals9171.562
1980Philadelphia Phillies9171.562

So the Cardinals won't have the fewest wins, but they trail (or tie) just a champion from a strike-shortened season, one from a war-shortened season, and two from the nineteenth century when far fewer games were played. Consider that in 1994, when about forty fewer games were played due to a season-ending lockout, the Expos with the best record in baseball had just 9 fewer wins than the '06 Cardinals.

But I think the kicker is the fact that the Cardinals were the 13th best team in baseball this season based on winning percentage. No prior World Series comes close to that sort of mediocrity:

YrTeamWLPCTTeams BetterTot TeamsPercentile
2006St. Louis Cardinals8378.516123043%
1987Minnesota Twins8577.52582635%
2000New York Yankees8774.54083030%
2003Florida Marlins9171.56263023%
1985Kansas City Royals9171.56252623%
1980Philadelphia Phillies9171.56252623%
2001Arizona Diamondbacks9270.56853020%
1964St. Louis Cardinals9369.57432020%
1962New York Yankees9666.59332020%
1959Los Angeles Dodgers8868.56421619%
1954New York Giants9757.63021619%
1945Detroit Tigers8865.56821619%
1935Detroit Tigers9358.61221619%
1933New York Giants9161.58321619%
1926St. Louis Cardinals8965.57121619%
1924Washington Senators9262.59021619%
1922New York Giants9361.59621619%
1916Boston Red Sox9163.58321619%
1906Chicago White Sox9358.60421619%
1889New York Giants8343.63421619%
1888New York Giants8447.60921619%
1886St. Louis Browns9346.66921619%
1974Oakland Athletics9072.55632417%
1973Oakland Athletics9468.58032417%
1990Cincinnati Reds9171.56232615%
1982St. Louis Cardinals9270.56832615%
1981Los Angeles Dodgers6347.57332615%

Detroit could still come back. Teams trailing 1-3 have won the given playoff series ten times in baseball history. The last was the Bartman-aided 2003 NLCS victory by the Marlins over the Cubs. The last team to do it in a World Series was the 1985 Royals.

However, teams leading 3-1 have won their playoff series fifty out of sixty times. Given the Tigers luck, especially on balls hit by David Eckstein tonight, I wouldn't bet on it.

2006-10-26 22:58:49
1.   Xeifrank
Hey! Nobody told you to wake up!!! :)
I don't see how you can say the Cardinals are "a bad team" with a straight face. They have won 93 games so far this season. They won their division, even with some big injuries along the way the last couple of months of the season. They got off to a very good start and that cushion allowed them to still win the division even with all the injuries and sloppy ball they played down the stretch. For the most part, the team got healthy for the postseason and have beaten the NL West and NL East champions and are up three games to one on the Tigers, a team that cleaned the clocks of the NY Yankees and Oakland A's. I mean what else could you ask for? Does a team have to win 118 games in the regular season to impress you? The whole purpose is to just "make the playoffs" and the Cardinals did that very efficiently. What would've 6 more regular season wins have gotten them? What would've 15 more wins have gotten them? A 7th home game vs the Mets and that wasn't needed. Set your alarm clock for tomorrow night, or whichever night the weather allows for a game 5. vr, Xei
2006-10-26 23:23:23
2.   Bluebleeder87
1974 should have been the Dodgers WS.
2006-10-26 23:44:22
3.   JD Drews Lost Power
Beane was right. The playoffs is a crapshoot
2006-10-26 23:55:11
4.   sanchez101
1. And yet, you can't escape the fact that no less than FOUR AL teams won more games than the Cardinals (in a much tougher league no less) and DID NOT EVEN GET TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PLAYOFFS. Think about that, St. Louis was worse than the Angles, Blue Jays, White Sox and Red Sox and because they had the LUCK to play in the EASIEST DIVISION in the EASIEST LEAGUE in the game, they get to ride a hot streak into the playoffs.

No one is claiming that St. Louis is a "bad team" as you claim. People are just claiming that St. Louis is the worst team to ever play in the World Series. That much is obviously true; no amount of silly, faulty reasoning will make that untrue. I mean; Oh really they beat the NL West 'champions' (the 2nd worst division in baseball, SD won all of 88 games, quite a 'jugernaught') and the NL East champions; a team with two decent starting pitchers, one of whom is a rookie.

The St. Louis Cardinals are not a 'bad team' as your weak straw-man argument would claim, they are just a mediocre team. Its a shame that baseball has degenerated to a state that a team barely capable of a .500 record can claim to be the 'World Champions'. It makes the BCS look like an enlightened system to define the best college football team in the nation. Anyone who still believes that the World Series winner is the best team in the major leagues is as delusional as your argument.

2006-10-27 00:09:51
5.   fanerman
I don't know about you, but I want the Cardinals to win because they're such a bad team. I'd LOVE for such a "horrible" team to win just because it's so rare and it freaks people out. Go Cards!
2006-10-27 07:24:56
6.   Xeifrank
4. straw-man? Get with the program, read Mike's blog entry. Look, the rules are you win your division and you are in. The Cardinals have no control over how tough of a division or league they play in. They won their division, that's all that counts. They had some serious injuries during their slide (Pujols, Edmonds, Isringhausen, Carpenter, Eckstein) and now they are healthy for the most part. What kind of playoff system should baseball have? Let's hear your alternatives. #1 and #3 are correct and #5 is how many people feel.
vr, Xei
2006-10-27 09:51:55
7.   Ruben F Pineda
Yeah, personally I don't think it takes way from the structure of the WS or the viability of calling them the champs (if they win). What, if you upset one team, its more viable to be called the champs than if you upset three teams?

Now, Im not saying the Cardinals are the best team. But...who was? The Yankees (who also had only 2 good starters)? The Mets? The Twins? THe grass is always greener. People get tired of the Pats winning all those superbowls or the Bulls winning all those titles, but then you when you actually have a league where the top half of teams have a legit shot at winning it all, there are complaints about that.

College football is a joke. Every dollar the BCS makes should go to scholarships for non-athletes. At non-division 1 schools. But that is a discussion for a different time...

All in all, yes, the Cardinals historically will be measured as a mediocre team. But if they win they earned their title. They should make no apoligies for being lucky, for the Eckstiens ball landing two inches farther than Monroe's glove, or for benefitting from two Detroit errors. They earned their spot through the regular season, have taken all challengers, and should be applauded if they go all the way.

2006-10-27 09:53:23
8.   Ruben F Pineda
And I think it is funny, Xeifrank, that you point to yourself as being correct... lol, instead of sneaking around about it, you should just refer to yourself in the 3rd person. :-)
2006-10-27 11:30:54
9.   Xeifrank
8. Well, that's just semantics. I guess I should've prefixed my post with imho. That's all we are doing, is expressing our opinions. Have a nice day. vr, Xei
2006-10-27 14:34:48
10.   Murray
6 What kind of playoff system should baseball have?

Well, because you asked: baseball should have a playoff system that reinforces the importance of the making it through the difficult grind of the regular season with the most wins. It should have four divisions with an even number of teams, 32 total teams at most, a balanced schedule, no interleague play, and if you don't win your division, you don't make the playoffs. The winners should play in the World Series, which should not take place so late in October that players and fans in attendance suffer through the games in a chilly rainfall on freezing fields wearing three or four layers of clothing to keep warm.

2006-10-27 17:56:50
11.   Mike Carminati
Three things:

1 I don't say that the Cardinals are "a bad team". I do say they are "mediocre", which they quite clearly are based on the 162 (or 161 really) games of the regular season.

4 The Cardinals are not "the worst team to ever play in the World Series". The '73 Mets were 82-79. They will be the worst to win a World Series, however.

10 I'm doing a piece at Baseball Prospectus on what's wrong with the playoff system. Long story short, it all starts with the first round.

2006-10-27 21:12:38
12.   Xeifrank
11. Do we really know if they are the worst team to ever win a World Series? They manhandled the best the tough boys in the AL could throw at them. If they had beat KC in five games that would be a different story. It's the best team at the end that counts. I think it's a cheap shot to call them the worst team to ever win a World Series.
10. Your piece at BP will be a must read. My guess is that you are going to adjust the homefield advantage to help the higher seeded team. I don't think that is a good solution. But I will wait to read. :) vr, Xei
2006-10-27 21:59:46
13.   stlhall
I'd rather be the '06 Cardinals than the Mariners of a few years ago.
2006-10-27 23:51:04
14.   Benjamin Kabak
I do believe the last team to come back from a 1-3 deficit were the 2004 Boston Red Sox. As hard as that is for me as a Yankee fan to admit.

I mean, that series was a 1-3 the day after 0-3, so that counts, right?

2006-10-28 08:13:32
15.   spyderIII
Toaster dudes show their lack of knowledge - again. CARDS had a comfortable division lead before historic level of injuries hit. Everybody was hurt ! Edmunds still doesn't know what day it is, Pujols missed a month and still can't run - same for Rolen and Eckstein, et al. Healthy they are as good as anybody in either league. Still hurting they still made Detroit look goofy. I've seen better fundamental baseball at little league games - Leeland greatly over rated. If he was a genius he would have had his pitchers - and INGE ready - to play errorless ball. Together they committed 8 errors. Rediculous.
2006-10-28 10:08:05
16.   Mike Carminati
15 "Leeland"? "over rated"? "Rediculous"?

"Toaster dudes show their lack of knowledge - again"

That's great schtick.

2006-10-28 20:33:07
17.   Xeifrank
I think 15. is just gloating. But he does have a point that a few of the Toaster blogs, this one included didn't give the Cardinals much respect. He could've said it a little nicer. :) vr, Xei
2006-10-28 22:44:50
18.   Mike Carminati
Show me one person outside of St. Louis who gave the Cardinals much of a chance.
2006-10-28 23:15:05
19.   Xeifrank
Ken Arneson predicted the Cardinals to win the W.S. before the season started.

World Series Champion, the best craps shooting team

Smart: Oakland
Siegrist: Oakland
Weisman: Atlanta
Arneson: St. Louis
Carminati: Oakland
Timmermann: Cleveland
Belth: White Sox
Corcoran: Oakland
Long: Yankees
Donohue: Oakland

Your pick to win the NL Central was...
Carminati: St. Louis, Milwaukee, Houston, Cubs, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati
Sparky Anderson predicted a Tigers/Cardinals W.S., before the season started.
Had the Cardinals beating the Tigers in 5 games.

Shall I go on? :)
vr, Xei

2006-10-29 13:07:17
20.   Mike Carminati
Right, so did I give them respect by picking them to win the division? And Ken picked them to win it all. How does that support "a few of the Toaster blogs, this one included didn't give the Cardinals much respect"?

by 18 I meant anyone who picked them to win it all at the beginning of the playoffs.

2006-10-29 13:15:42
21.   Xeifrank
20. Ok, in that case we both contradicted ourselves and cancelled each other out... on to a new subject. :)
vr, Xei

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