On Friday night, the Brewers exploded for a six run lead over the Cardinals. Unfortunately, the Cardinals clobbered four home runs to erase the deficit and eventually win, 7-6. After the Brewers’ fast start, the loss was unexpected, to say the least. Even more so because of how the Cardinals did it.
Coming into Friday’s game, the Cardinals had hit a total of 55 home runs, tied with the Kansas City Royals for the fewest in all of baseball. For a little perspective, the Brewers entered Friday’s game having already smacked 93 HR. The Cardinals’ 55 HR spread across 93 games means that the team averaged 0.59 HR/G. If that home run rate was sustained for an entire season, the Cardinals would be on pace to hit 96 HR.
So how low of a HR number is that? Since 2008, here are the only teams that have hit fewer than 100 HR in a season –
No Brewers team has hit fewer than 100 HR in a season since 1994, but that 1994 team only played 115 games because of the strike. If eliminating strike-shortened seasons (1994, 1981, and 1972), then only three Brewers teams have ever hit fewer than 100 HR in a season –
Yet, because of Friday’s four HR game, the Cardinals’ were able to pad their HR/G ratio to 0.63. That rate maintained over 162 games would produce 102 HR.
But don’t think that the Cardinals HR binge against the Brewers was a fluke. Cardinals hitters have crushed Brewers pitchers this year. It just doesn’t feel that way for Brewers fans. The numbers prove it. Here’s the Cardinals’ heat map of their season slugging percentage (.372 SLG) prior to Sunday’s game.
That red flare, right down the heart of the plate, equates to a team .561 SLG on pitches in that zone. Now check out the Cardinals slugging percentage (.454 SLG) vs the Brewers this season.
Simply, the Cardinals go HR crazy against the Crew. In fact, the Pirates are the only other team to have allowed the Cardinals to hit more than four HR off them this entire season. Again, the Cardinals smacked four HR against the Brewers on Friday night alone. This season, the Cardinals HR% against the Brewers is higher than against any other team. In fact, it’s not even close.
As a team, the Cardinals have managed to hit 60 HR across 3,615 PA this season for a 1.7 HR%. That’s below the league’s team average of 2.3 HR%. Yet, the Brewers are giving up bombs to the Cardinals at 4.08 HR% — almost two and a half times more often than the rest of the league.
In 2013, the Cardinals batted for a stratospheric .330 AVG with RISP. That number has dropped to a .251 AVG with RISP in 2014. With ten games left between the Brewers and Cardinals, it will be important for the Crew to limit the long ball and make the Cardinals string hits together to score. If they can do that, Brewers fans should expect better results against the Cardinals in the second half.