Saturday, June 22, 2024

MLB Misery Index: Cardinals’ former MVP enduring an incredibly ugly stretch

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This week’s MLB Misery Index takes a look at the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds, currently battling in the basement of the NL Central.

Both teams have been sputtering offensively, notably Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt who is enduring one of the worst stretches of his illustrious career that includes an 0-for-23 start to the month of May.

It’s still relatively early in the season and you have to imagine Goldschmidt will get it together as the year goes on, even at age 36. In fact, it won’t be surprising in the slightest if he goes on a tear this summer that gets St. Louis into the thick of the playoff race.

In Cincinnati, the shorthanded Reds have baseball’s worst batting average despite phenom Elly De La Cruz putting up video game numbers over the first six weeks of the season.

Here’s what’s going wrong for the two teams:

St. Louis Cardinals: MVP in historic slump

With their biggest bats struggling to start the season, the Cardinals have lost six of seven entering this weekend’s four-game series in Milwaukee, and are tied for last in the majors with just 26 home runs in 36 games.

Goldschmidt started May on an 0-for-23 skid and his .550 OPS is the lowest the 2022 NL MVP has posted over any 35-game stretch in his career. Like Goldschmidt, third baseman Nolan Arenado only has two homers.

Nolan Gorman (.573) and Lars Nootbaar (.624) are among the other everyday players struggling, with youngsters Victor Scott II and Jordan Walker back in the minors after batting a combined .120 in 144 at-bats.

Adding injury to insult, catcher Willson Contreras (team-high six HR, .950 OPS) is facing a lengthy stint on the injured list after breaking his arm Tuesday on a catcher’s interference.

“It sucks. Bottom line. It just does,” manager Oli Marmol told reporters after a loss Sunday. “So yes, we continue to look at everything possible to make sure we get out of this but these are the players we’re going to win with and we got to get them going.”

Cincinnati Reds: Don’t blame Elly De La Cruz

Cincinnati was a trendy NL Central pick this spring after narrowly missing out on the 2023 postseason, but it had lost seven in a row through Wednesday after a 16-13 start.

The Reds have MLB’s worst batting average (.209) and have been overwhelmed by injuries over the past two months, particularly to TJ Friedl and Matt McLain during spring training. While Friedl just made his 2024 debut, McLain may miss the entire season and Christian Encarnacion-Strand, who struggled to a .513 OPS, recently went on the injured list as well.

“Some guys are here because their best role is a pinch hitter or defensive replacement, not because they’re trying to be offensive guys,” Reds president Nick Krall said, per the CIncinnati Enquirer. “You’re just playing out of roles.”

Contributing: Cincinnati Enquirer

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