Projections and Paces – Cardinals

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The article below is meant to provide a quick look at how my
preseason projections match up with the paces of select major league
hitters.

Albert Pujols
2008: .357/.462/.653, 37 HR, 100 R, 116 RBI, 7 SB in 524 AB
Proj..: .328/.440/.624, 40 HR, 108 R, 118 RBI, 6 SB in 543 AB
Pace: .320/.444/.689, 56 HR, 126 R, 140 RBI, 22 SB in 544 AB

On the off chance that the current paces hold up, Pujols will lead the
Cardinals in homers by 34, in runs by 46, in RBI by 63 and in steals by
seven.

Skip Schumaker
2008: .302/.359/.406, 8 HR, 87 R, 46 RBI, 8 SB in 540 AB
Proj..: .287/.343/.396, 7 HR, 80 R, 44 RBI, 8 SB in 508 AB
Pace: .284/.333/.387, 7 HR, 80 R, 46 RBI, 2 SB in 537 AB

The transition to second base has gone about as well as hoped, but
Schumaker is back hitting like the fifth outfielder it was assumed he’d
be prior to last year.

Chris Duncan
2008: .248/.346/.365, 6 HR, 26 R, 27 RBI, 2 SB in 222 AB
Proj..: .256/.337/.473, 18 HR, 48 R, 53 RBI, 2 SB in 336 AB
Pace: .255/.345/.417, 12 HR, 51 R, 73 RBI, 0 SB in 493 AB

Duncan is hitting .230 since his strong April, and he’s due to start
losing more playing time to Colby Rasmus once the Cardinals are
finished in AL parks.

Yadier Molina
2008: .304/.349/.392, 7 HR, 37 R, 56 RBI, 0 SB in 444 AB
Proj..: .274/.332/.381, 9 HR, 42 R, 60 RBI, 1 SB in 457 AB
Pace: .284/.358/.397, 12 HR, 58 R, 53 RBI, 10 SB in 493 AB

Molina did hit an empty .300 last year, but most of his success came
against lefties. He’s currently at .292/.355/.390 against righties,
which would top his previous best OPS by 55 points.

Colby Rasmus
2008: N/A
Proj..: .245/.329/.416, 12 HR, 55 R, 44 RBI, 14 SB in 368 AB
Pace: .272/.322/.467, 17 HR, 68 R, 63 RBI, 2 SB in 471 AB

Rasmus has been all over the place as a hitter during his young
career. He finished April at .254/.357/.305 with no homers in 59
at-bats. In May, he hit five homers on his way to a .212/.256/.447 in
month. In June, he’s been a singles and doubles machine, but he’s yet
to walk in 51 at-bats, giving him a .392/.392/.686 line.

Ryan Ludwick
2008: .299/.375/.591, 37 HR, 104 R, 113 RBI, 4 SB in 538 AB
Proj..: .264/.337/.484, 27 HR, 87 R, 100 RBI, 3 SB in 541 AB
Pace: .233/.306/.423, 22 HR, 48 R, 77 RBI, 7 SB in 394 AB

Ludwick was hitting .274/.339/.538 before suffering a hamstring
injury of May 12. He’s been awful since returning at the end of the
month, but he still might find his way to 25 homers and 90 RBI.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).