There are A LOT of reasons for the Cardinals’ May struggles…but the biggest obstacle has been hitting in the clutch. The Cardinals are hitting just .245 with runners in scoring position, as opposed to .264 last year, and .270 in 2004, the year they were the best team in the league.
Right now, the bottom four teams in batting average with RISP are the Cardinals, in thirteenth, followed by the Mets, Pirates and Astros.
The top four teams are Arizona, then the red-hot Dodgers, Reds and Marlins.
As the Cardinals steamrolled through April, they hit 28 home runs, which offset their deficiencies in the clutch. This month, they’ve only hit seven homers. To be a good team, if you aren’t hitting for power, you have to be able to get runners home from second and third, especially with less than two out.
Mark McGwire was brought in as hitting coach to instill more discipline, to make the Cardinals see more pitches and be more competitive, especially with runners in scoring position. I think it’s notable that he admitted to Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch how different hitters are now as opposed to the last time he donned a major league uniform nine years ago.
With that being the case, Tony LaRussa needs to coach his coach. The buck stops at the manager. To make sure the Cardinals are competing at the plate, playing a “hard nine” and giving their pitchers and fans every chance of winning, LaRussa needs to work with the hitters too. If he goes down the line counting on the inexperienced McGwire to figure things out himself, it may be too late.