There has been plenty of frustration to go around in a perplexing St. Louis Cardinals season that has seen the club struggle to find its stride through the first five months of the campaign.
Now that the Redbirds have finally found their way to first place with a month to go it seems like the players casual fans have pointed fingers at during the down times are the ones who have come together to carry the Cardinals in the clutch.
Jon Jay had his job taken away from him not in spring training -- but before camp even started. He didn't pout and he didn't whine, all he did was win his job back -- twice. Folks who carried over their frustration from his late 2013 slump seemed unwilling to let him back into the good graces of Redbirds Nation.
Even when he was out-hitting fellow center fielder Peter Bourjos by 70 or 80 points, some corners of Cardinalsdom were still complaining that Bourjos was a better player. But Jay kept on producing and seems to have won over 90 percent of the folks who were rooting against him. He's hitting .311 for the season and .382 over the last month. And a hefty portion on his offense has come in the clutch, sparking the Birds to much needed wins.
"Why is Daniel Descalso even on this team?" Is a question that I've heard repeatedly over the past few months. I didn't really get it because, in my mind, it was because he could play four defensive positions well. He isn't necessarily on the team because of his bat. His presence allows other players to be on the team because of their bats.
Still, Descalso is a guy who has come through with big hits in the past. He didn't get much of a chance to play earlier in the season because Matt Carpenter plays every day at third base, Jhonny Peralta has been reliable at shortstop and Mark Ellis was signed to backstop rookie Kolten Wong at second.
But with Ellis out with an injury and Carpenter and first baseman Matt Adams slumping, Descalso has had a chance to put together a few at bats over the past month or so. And he has done an exceptional job.
He hit .389 in August in 44 plate appearances and has a .488 on base percentage. He's been forced to face a lot of lefty pitchers this season. While he's only batting .198 against righties, he's batting .355 against lefties for the season.
But the favorite whipping boy of all has been the guy who makes $17 million a year out in left field.
Holliday has become something of a target for complainers because of his relatively large paycheck. He hasn't exactly hit his usual numbers of a .300 average with 25 or so homers and 90 plus runs batted in. But he hasn't been terrible, either. Holliday's game-winning RBI Monday against Pittsburgh was his 21st of the season which leads all of Major League Baseball.
But lately he has carried the team. He's been the power supply with slugger Matt Adams shorting out and he's pushed into the 80s in RBIs with 17 homers.
It's a good thing the Redbirds have stuck with these three proven producers. It's paying off big time.