30 in 30: The St. Louis Cardinals
2016 Record: 86-76
2016 Finish: 12th in MLB, 6th in NL
2016 in Review
I went back and forth all day about who to write about. There is the easy choice of Aledymis Diaz, the "of course" choice of Yadier Molina, or even the "DUDE, DUH CHOICE" of Seung-hwan Oh. I HAVE OPTED FOR THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED. I'm going with Carlos Martinez.
There's a reason for this, of course. Calm down. I'll explain. Carlos Martinez had the best season out of anyone wearing a Cardinals jersey. In 2015 Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, Jaime Garcia and Carlos Martinez all had sub-3.50 ERAs. The Cardinals won 100 games in 2015 for a reason and that reason was incredible, lock down shutout Starting Pitching.
THE ONLY GUY TO FOLLOW UP WITH THAT SAME PROMISE OF GREATNESS IN 2016 WAS CARLOS MARTINEZ AND HE DESERVES ALL THE CREDIT. Carlos Martinez won 16 of his 31 starts and was the only Cardinals pitching to carry a sub-3.00 ERA, claiming the 10th lowest ERA in 2016. Martinez was the only guy who showed up time in and time out and did his job, and he should be applauded for that.
WHERE TO BEGIN? There were a lot of disappointing things happening with the Cardinals in 2016. Unlike the Surprise of 2016 for the Cardinals, this one is pretty simple. Adam Wainwright doesn't deserve to go down like this, you guys. Wainwright has been a big piece of theCardina; 2006 World Series campaign, getting the save in the final game. Adam Wainwright will forever be a part of ending the 24 year World Series drought in St. Louis. For almost a decade, Adam Wainwright has been the face of the Cardinals organization along with Yadier Molina, who joined the Cards two years prior.
Yadi had a terrific year in 2016, and his play for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic this year showed no signs of slowing down. Wainwright however... had the worst season of his career in 2016, and his 2017 Spring Training isn't looking good, as he has given up 1 earned run for every inning he has pitched and batters are hitting him at .367. Wainwright's 2016 was the signaling the beginning of the end. It's more sad than disappointing,
Looking ahead... The Cardinals had the pieces there last year, they just needed them to snap into place, but instead, they burst into flames. The Cardinals lost Jason Heyward to the Cubs in 2016, but this year they've taken Dexter Fowler from their NL Central rivals. Dexter Fowler is one of my favorite guys in the league, mainly because he can do it all and he's likable. He's the piece the Cardinals were missing. Adding Fowler allows guys Matt Carpenter, Aledymas Diaz and Yadier Molina to just worry about hitting their spot and not bouncing around trying to find that optimal lineup. Fowler's a great addition to the team. The Cardinals also have Luke Weaver as a possible replacement for Wainwright, as well as the return of Lance Lynn, who will always have a special place in my heart. The Cardinals should be back to their normal selves, chasing the Cubs or blowing them out of the water, they just need their pieces to fall into place.