At 100-62, the Cardinals had the best record in baseball this season. Mike Matheny’s crew won its third straight division title despite the division-rival Pirates and Cubs having the second- and third-best records in baseball. This year’s Cardinals dealt with more adversity than past versions, and their success is a testament to the structure and stability the organization has built top to bottom. They play and win as a team and seem to always be a force in the playoffs. Here’s why they’ll win it all in 2015.
Getty ImagesJared Wickerham
Nothing has stopped them so far
What else could go wrong for the Cards this year? They lost ace Adam Wainwright to an Achilles injury in April. Matt Holliday has been limited to just 73 games after sustaining two quad strains. Carlos Martinez was lost for the season after suffering a shoulder strain. Yadier Molina's postseason status is in question after tearing a ligament in his thumb. And yet the Cardinals have persevered. Incredibly so. Why doubt them now?
They do this every year
Every year, it seems the Cardinals are a force to be reckoned with. They've made the playoffs 12 times in the past 16 years. Only two times did they not make it past the Division Series. Three of those 12 appearances resulted in World Series trips. Two of those World Series trips resulted in championships. Nine of those postseasons were the result of a division title. At a certain point it just gets boring, right? Nah, probably not.
Getty ImagesEzra Shaw
All-around pitching excellence
Despite losing Wainwright for nearly the entire season, the Cardinals still had the best team ERA in all of baseball. And it wasn't really close. St. Louis ended the season with a 2.94 ERA, well ahead of the second-place Pirates (3.21). The team's 'worst' starter was Michael Wacha, who finished with a 3.38 ERA. St. Louis boasts five starters with double-digit wins and a closer with 48 saves. There just aren't many weak points here.
Naturally, the Cardinals' defense was also stellar. Led by outfielder Jason Heyward, the team gave up the fewest runs per game in baseball. Though it's difficult to separate pitching performance from defensive prowess, the two go hand-in-hand. Behind every great pitching staff is a great defense.
Getty ImagesJohn Konstantaras
Just when you think a player can't improve on a great season, you get seasons like the one Carpenter had in 2015. He led the league in doubles for the second time in three years. He led his team in home runs and RBI despite batting primarily leadoff. And he continued to be durable by playing in 154 games, which is actually his lowest total since 2012. Somehow, he wasn't voted to the All-Star team, but a World Series championship probably would ease his pain.
Getty ImagesJustin K. Aller
They have to spoil it for the Cubs
Despite the Cardinals' 100 wins, it seems like most of the attention has been on the Cubs' amazing season. And for that, you have to figure they'll spoil the North Siders' hopes and dreams like they always do. Only this time it will be in the postseason, thus amplifying Chicago's misery.