Another season is in the books and the time for reflection is here.
Obviously, there were a lot of disappointments. The Redbirds didn't make the playoffs even though they were the prohibitive favorites in the National League Central. David Freese couldn't maintain a hot start and was lost for the season because of deeply concerning ankle injuries. And, most disturbing of all, the team seemed to lose its focus and drive after Ryan Ludwick was shipped off in exchange for Jake Westbrook -- but no other moves were made to bolster the team.
But there were some pretty great things to remember about 2010 as well. Here are my top three:
First, although he struggled more than in any other season in his decade-long career, Albert Pujols survived a dip under .300 in August to finish strong with a .312 batting average, 42 homers and 100 RBIs. Those are good enough numbers for serious MVP consideration. Imagine if Pujols played on a team that had some more offensive punch at the top and bottom of the lineup. I savor every minute of watching baseball's greatest player rewriting the record book in a Cardinals uniform.
Second, how about the Birds' top three starters? Adam Wainwright put together his bese season so far with 20 wins. Chris Carpenter showed that he has overcome the injuries that wiped out his 2007 and 2008 seasons by making a strong 35 starts and Garcia came from out of nowhere to make a bid as the National League's rookie of the year. Knowing those guys are coming back in 2011 makes the winter a lot brighter and the team's rehab a whole lot easier.
Finally, Matt Holliday overcame a slow start to tie Pujols with a .312 batting average and he topped the 30 homer and 100 RBI marks. Traditionally, guys who sign big free agent contracts struggle their first season after the big payday. That factor, and the way Holliday played better as the season went on, could mean big things in 2011.
I hope the Cardinals move aggressively to fill their holes and that they get the Albert Pujols contract situation resolved. That would do wonders for washing the bad taste of 2010 out of our mouths and changing the focus to looking toward next season.
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