Life After Pujols: Three Strikes–Week 1 Wrap-up

The Cardinals finished the first week of the 2012 season 5-2. Let’s take a look at three aspects of why the team had such a good week.

Strike 1
Rafael Furcal.  In my season preview, I said that Furcal is key to the team’s success this year. I also mentioned his rough spring, and followed up with the fact that sometimes spring training means nothing. With Furcal hitting .435 (.480 OBP), he has shut up his spring doubters (me).  If Furcal gets on base, the big bats behind him tend to bring him in. And they have: The Cardinals led the majors in HR, RBI, and Runs scored for the week.

Strike 2

Cardinals starters have let their spring speak volumes: all they’ve done is continue with the success they had in the preseason. Cardinals pitching leads the league in Wins with 5 after week one, are 3rd in ERA and 3rd in strike outs. Championship teams have good pitching. So far, the Cardinals pitching has been superb, but is still waiting for a timetable on Chris Carpenter’s return.

Strike 3

With Pujols gone, many thought the Cardinals would have a lack of power in their lineup. Not so for this young season. With 12 home runs, the Cardinals lead the majors in HR, as well as runs scored and RBI. Beltran and Freese (hitting a torrid .444) both have 3 HR, Molina and Holliday 2, and 1 a piece for Jay and Robinson.

We can expect Berkman to chip in some homers pretty soon, too, but he has been slowed by a bothersome hand as well as a minor calf tear suffered after legging out a triple in Tuesday’s game. Berkman is expected to stay out of the lineup until next week, with rookie Matt Carpenter manning first in his stead.

You’re out!

Most importantly, the Cardinals have won all 3 series they’ve played in, including the 1 game trip to Miami for the Marlins opener. Like La Russa before him, rookie manager Mike Matheny says that he wants his team to focus on winning series. That’s what they’ve done so far.

The Cardinals home opener is Friday, April 13th against the Cubs.

Check out our 2012 Cardinals season preview here.

Drew Fleming is the last baseball columnist you have ever read. He covers the St. Louis Cardinals for Memphisport. Follow him on Twitter @thefilmjerk

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