Defying the Odds: The 2011 St. Louis Cardinals Story

by JohnBowen

Here are some of the statistical odds that the Cardinals overcame en route to their NL-best 11th World Series championship:

Playoffs Odds on August 27: 1.1%

Playoff Odds on September 15: 4.2%

Playoffs Odds on September 23 (5 days left!): 6.8%

Win Expectancy of Game 6, bottom of the 9th, 2 outs: 8%

Win Expectancy of Game 6, bottom of the 10th, 2 outs: 16%

Congratulations to the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals on an incredible and highly improbable run. In the divisional era, only the 2004 Astros have overcome bigger odds after August 15, and no NL team has ever come back from 10.5 games down that late in a season. They beat the odds and hoisted the World Series trophy once again in 2011.

For my money, this wasn’t that much of a shocker once the Cardinals made it to the playoffs. The Cardinals may have won just 90 games in 2011, but the bullpen – which became full-proof after the trading deadline – blew numerous leads earlier in the year.

The Cardinals of 2011 represented an incredible resilience through tough times – a heartwarming story for anyone who isn’t a fan of the Philles, Brewers, or Rangers.

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32 Responses to “Defying the Odds: The 2011 St. Louis Cardinals Story”

  1. Jim Says:

    It may have not been a classically played series, but it was among the most dramatic. Congrats Cards.

  2. Raul Says:

    One of the great games was Game 6.
    That it was an amazing series is hyperbole.

  3. Cameron Says:

    Game 6 was the highlight, but the series as a whole was one of the more exciting ones in a while.

  4. Chuck Says:

    #2

    Agreed.

    The Rangers set a WS record for most walks allowed with 41.

    That’s why they lost.

    The Rangers are a superior team.

    The moves Washington made, by and large, were the right ones under the circumstances.

    Pitchers couldn’t find the strike zone.

    The biggest play of the game last night was Kinsler getting picked off. That turned a potential three or four run first inning into a two run inning.

    The Cards coming back in the first (on two, two out walks) kept Carpenter in the game and gave him a chance to get his groove on, instead of forcing LaRussa to pinch hit for him in the fifth, or even having to double switch him out earlier.

    That, and ball four to Molina was clearly a strike.

    That turned a zero run inning into a two run inning.

    The Cardinals didn’t win the Series.

    The Rangers lost it.

  5. JohnBowen Says:

    “The Rangers set a WS record for most walks allowed with 41.
    That’s why they lost.”

    Also can be read: The Cardinals set a WS record for most walks drawn with 41. That’s why they won.

  6. Bob Says:

    And LaRussa retired.

  7. brautigan Says:

    Hopefully Tony puts his full efforts behind his other passion: Humane treatment of canines in this country.

    Hats off to you Tony. Good luck in your next endeavor.

  8. Bob Says:

    The Indians acquired Derek Lowe. Details are still emerging

  9. John Says:

    Where’d you read that?

  10. Bob Says:

    MLBTR

  11. John Says:

    Ok, I see it now.

    Indians are only paying 5M of the 15M.

    Still an overpay. Lowe is 39 and hasn’t been effective in 3 years.

  12. Chuck Says:

    Mets will let Jose Reyes walk.

  13. John Says:

    Probably a good call, considering his price tag, injury history, and the Mets current rebuilding state.

  14. Cameron Says:

    “Mets will let Jose Reyes walk.”

    When I heard the club say they’ll let other teams set the market with their offers and not set their own offer forward, I knew he was gonna go.

    John, cross your fingers.

  15. Cameron Says:

    “Also can be read: The Cardinals set a WS record for most walks drawn with 41. That’s why they won.”

    There’s walks hitters draw and there’s walks pitchers give up. A good, long AB where you foul shit off is usually the hitter getting the walk for himself.

    The pitching Texas put up? That was not St. Louis being good at the plate. That was Texas not knowing where the fucking strike zone was.

  16. Kerry Says:

    @4 “That, and ball four to Molina was clearly a strike.”

    I gotta agree with that, that was a huge break. But the ball/strike calling was uneven throughout, I thought, and not just in the Cards’ favor.

    “Pitchers couldn’t find the strike zone. … The Cardinals didn’t win the Series.
    The Rangers lost it.”

    As John said, you can look at it two ways. Maybe the Rangers pitchers threw so many balls because when they did throw it over the plate, it was crushed. If the Cardinal hitters were better (and more patient) than, say, the Tigers, it would lead to a lot of walks. And they clearly played better under fire than the Rangers.

  17. Cameron Says:

    Dan Wheeler and David Aardsma hit free agency today. Wheeler didn’t pitch much or that well due to forearm injuries and Aardsma got TJ mid-year, so these two guys could be good low-cost, high-risk signings.

    Also, Jonathon Broxton is a free agent. If he gets back close to anywhere near he was… Well, let’s just say I’m praying KC takes a gamble.

  18. Chuck Says:

    You’re supposed to be raising the bar, Cameron, not lowering it so far that you can step over it.

  19. brautigan Says:

    You need a ladder to step over the behemoth named Broxton.

  20. Cameron Says:

    Well, the bullpen’s already set with guys like Soria and Crow. Broxton would likely be a middle relief. The main thing is a gamble and if he gets close to what he used to be when he was the Dodgers closer, it’s a hell of a pickup.

    …And really, could our bullpen be that much worse? We were so desperate for arms we claimed Louis Coleman, who never pitched above A-ball, and stuck him in the major league pen.

  21. Chuck Says:

    What about Jeffress? Nathan Adcock?

  22. Cameron Says:

    Jeffress is getting stretched to be a starter, but I don’t see it panning out. He’s good, but there’s questions.

    You’ve also got guys like Everett Teaford, Nathan Adcock, etc., but in all honesty they’re decent at best. Whereas you look at a guy like Broxton, the dude was one of the best relievers in baseball just a couple years ago. That dropoff coincided very nicely by the way, dropping him from a Type A, to unranked.

    At most, it’s a three million dollar gamble for a guy who used to be amazing. It’s not exactly that big a risk to take if you’re not having him close. With the way the rotation’s looking to be very green and probably won’t get much innings, the bullpen in KC needs to be a priority.

  23. Cameron Says:

    Like so.

  24. Chuck Says:

    “Jeffress is getting stretched to be a starter, but I don’t see it panning out. He’s good, but there’s questions”

    That explains why he’s had no starts in the AFL.

  25. Cameron Says:

    He was getting starts in Omaha, though.

    The reliever market isn’t THAT good, but there can be stuff that’s decent if you’re looking for guys to pad those middle innings. I’ve got a small wishlist.

    -Mike MacDougal (though that’s more for memories I guess.)
    -Jonathon Broxton
    -Mike Gonzalez
    -Goerge Sherrill

    These are guys coming off down years looking for anything. Low-cost, high-risk, high-ceiling. They’re gambles, but it could be nice.

  26. Chuck Says:

    I wouldn’t pay Broxton 20 bucks to wash my car.

  27. Cameron Says:

    Just a year removed from an All-Star season (I’m assuming he tanked after the ‘10 break), guy’s got a career 11.5 K/9, posted decent ERAs, he could be a good power arm in there.

    If he’s asking for more than $4-$5MM, I’ll say pass, but there’s decent chance of a rebound. I think mental issues played a part of it and getting out of the warzone of LA to a team that (quite frankly) no one watches is gonna be a good change of scenery.

  28. brautigan Says:

    Of the 4 you listed Cameron, I think Gonzalez is the only one with upside, and he is as fragile as glass. Broxton has skills, but he also will cause any manager to go through a box of Tums during any outing.

  29. Chuck Says:

    The Royals had a $38 million payroll last year, and you’re already committing $6 million to your closer.

    Broxton made seven last year, and even if he were to agree to take five, you’re paying a set-up man almost as much as your closer and will committ $11 million to two BULLPEN guys.

    Yeah, that makes a ton of sense.

  30. Cameron Says:

    Fair enough, didn’t realize Broxton made that much. I thought he was still going through arb and wasn’t making tha tmuch.

    The money’s too much to commit in that case. If he takes a paycut, I’ll say take the gamble, if not, DM said he’ll trade low-to-mid range prospects for pitching, see if you can’t go through on that.

    Chuck, do you think Jake Odorizzi sees the majors before or after next September?

  31. Chuck Says:

    Before.

  32. JohnBowen Says:

    CC Sabathia is staying in NY…got an extra year+option (30M guaranteed).

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