If seeing the St. Louis Cardinals play postseason baseball feels like a staple of any fall, that’s because it is. The Cardinals have made the playoffs in five-straight seasons and can become just the third franchise ever to punch their postseason ticket in six-straight seasons if they achieve the feat in 2016. That might be easier said than done, however, as the Chicago Cubs appear to be the darlings of bookmakers – and bettors – everywhere.
Yes, remarkably, making the postseason in six-straight years is incredibly rare and has only been achieved by the Atlanta Braves (1991-1993, 1995-2005) and New York Yankees (1995-2007). The Cards will be vying for their first World Series crown since 2011 and second since 2006. So if you are familiar with the San Francisco Giants trend of winning every other year (since 2010), well, maybe the Cardinals have a five-year trend going. If you like that spot, the Cardinals are +1800 in World Series futures at online shop Sportsbook.
Bookmakers love the Cubbies to win most everything this year and online shop Sportsbook has them as -150 faves to win the Central with the Cardinals as second choice at +250. The Redbirds have won the Central Division in three-straight seasons and were the only Major League Baseball club to win 100 games last season. Furthermore, they did this without the services of their ace Adam Wainwright, who missed most of the season with an Achilles tendon rupture suffered in April.
Sure, gone is Jason Heyward, but the Cards have had significant offensive players leave over the past few seasons and did not miss a beat (think Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig). Patrolling right field now will be Stephen Piscotty. The 25-year-old hit very well at AAA Memphis and made his debut in 2015. He went on to hit .305 in over 250 plate appearances, so Piscotty might soon make people forget that Heyward bolted for the hated Cubs.
Elsewhere, center field looks like it could be owned by Randal Grichuk, who put up a .276/.329/.548 slash and 3.1 WAR in 350 plate appearances last season. Certainly not a bad option to take over every day CF duties and a player that could be the next big name in St. Louis baseball.
The staff will be good, if it stays healthy of course. Baseball stats site FanGraphs projects a combined WAR of 15.2 from the starting rotation, good enough for seventh-highest in. The depth is there with Jaime Garcia, Michael Wacha, Mike Leake and Carols Martinez filling out the rotation after Wainwright.
Garcia and Wacha in particular will be integral to the Cards’ success in 2016. Garcia’s health will no doubt be a concern but when he pitched last season (20 starts), he was dynamite. Wacha steamrolled his way through 2015, before doing a 180 in September. Having those two repeat stellar seasons will be the key to St. Louis cashing some of its futures wagers.
Books have the Cards’ win total at 87.5; a number they have eclipsed, with relative ease mind you, each of the past five seasons. The Central is the most competitive division in baseball and while the Cubs appear to be the flavor of the month, the Cards have been the flavor of the past five years.
The staff is excellent, their ace is hungry for a bounce back, the lineup is solid and there are young starters ready to make an impact. While history and certain trends appear to be against them this season, the Cards don’t really show any signs of regression. What’s not to like about this team?
Click here for our 30 Teams in 30 Days preview page.
|National League Pennant||+1100|
|National League Central||+275|
Odds as of April 1 at Sportsbook