Yeah, they lost 5-4 to the lowly Marlins tonight. However, entering tonight’s game, the Cardinals had baseball’s best record at 43-23 with a run differential of +102 runs. It is the best start through 66 games, in terms of run differential, since the 2003 Mariners were +106. A team has been +100 or better through the first 66 games just five other times in this millennium, with the ’01 Mariners, ’02 Yankees and Red Sox, and ’08 Cubs joining the ’03 Mariners.
But, as we know, hot starts don’t always last forever. The Cardinals are on pace to be +250 over an entire season, a feat that has only been achieved five times since the 162-game schedule was adopted in the early 1960’s: by the ’98 Yankees (+309), ’01 Mariners (+300), ’69 Orioles (+262), ’98 Astros (+254), and ’75 Reds (+254). Two of those teams — the Yankees and Reds — won the World Series. Even if you lower the threshold to +200, only an additional 15 teams join the list.
It hasn’t been talked about much, but through 66 games this season, the Cardinals are looking really, really good. Whether they can hold steady through the next 96 games and into the post-season, however, remains to be seen.
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.