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Analytics Analysis: Paul Goldschmidt is mashing breaking balls to help fuel hot streak

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Paul Goldschmidt is hitting everything well.

On the heels of a 31-game on-base streak and a 17-game hit streak, no one is hotter in baseball than the St. Louis first baseman. During the recent hit streak, Goldschmidt has hit .451 with 14 extra-base hits. 

Much of his success comes from pitchers' inability to put pitches past him in traditional weak-hitting counts.

Goldschmidt sees breaking pitches in 38% of offerings and on those he has 23 hits, including four of his home runs, and a .418 batting average. 

In short, fret not if he gets behind in the count.

Relievers added winning percentage, starters perfectly average

The Cardinals' starting pitchers are smack in the middle of the road leaguewide, as they've done little to help or hurt the team's chance of winning. The difference in contribution between the starters and the bullpen is stark when measured by the numbers.

A helpful stat for calculating if a player/staff is helping you win is winning percentage added, or WPA. As a cumulative stat, WPA measures how a team's chance of winning changes before and after a player performs.

For batters, it's measured pre- and post-at-bat; pitchers are measured before and after they appear. For example, if a team had a 50% chance of winning before a pitcher entered the game and a 71% chance of winning when he exited, the pitcher would have a 0.21 WPA.

A full 1.0 WPA would indicate a 100% shift in a particular game. The record for single-game WPA is owned by David Freese, who posted a 0.969 in his fateful game six heroics of the 2011 World Series. 

Cardinals starters are 16th in major league baseball with a 0.18 WPA, the lowest amongst teams with a staff that adds value and doesn't dip into the negative. The league-leading Houston Astros starters claim 3.19 WPA, while the Washington Nationals have the lowest with -3.62. 

Essentially, Cardinals starting pitchers are adding just a little bit to the likelihood the team will win. And of the starters, Miles Mikolas has done much of the heavy lifting, measuring a 1.01 WPA on his own. Jordan Hicks, Matt Liberatore, Packy Naughton, and Steven Matz own WPA statistics in the negative. 

Meanwhile, the Cardinals' bullpen has been elite: They are seventh in baseball with a WPA of 1.35 while being 15th in innings pitched. 

Win Probability Added is an imperfect stat; Fangraphs keeps a list of things in mind to consider while using it. But it does help quantify performance to date, and if the starters can find more quality, the relievers are there to close games. 

Lowest barrel rate, but fifth in runs scored

A statistic that seems almost impossible is that the Cardinals are fifth in Major League Baseball in runs scored. 

With 208 runs scored, the Cardinals offense is up there with the Yankees, Dodgers, and Mets in production. While the total has been propped up by two games in which the Cardinals scored 15 and 18 runs, the underlying numbers suggest what many in Cardinal nation already know: The offense doesn't have the pop they want.  

The Cardinals, owners of a barreled ball rate of just 6.4%, are last in baseball in terms of squaring balls up. Tack on their last-place hard-hit rate and next to last hard-hit percentage, and the picture becomes more clear. 

If the Cardinals hadn't exploded for those double-digit outbursts and instead scored their average number of runs, they would rank somewhere in the 15th-17th range in the league in scoring — a far more expected range. 


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