I expected the Cardinals to hit well this season. But I have to admit that I didn't expect them to muscle up like they have so far.
Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, David Freese and Yadier Molina have each cracked two home runs through the Redbirds' first five games and the club has basically used home run barrages to account for two of its four wins to this point. The team's biggest threat to hit 30 or more homers, Lance Berkman, hasn't collected one yet. So the sky would seem to be the limit on this team's offensive abilities.
I guess it shouldn't be a total surprise to see the ball fly out because four of St. Louis' five games have come in the cozy confines of Miller Park and the Great American Ballpark, two of the most homer happy fields in the National League. But several of the shots would have cleared the fences just about anywhere. And if it was just the park and not the talent, then I guess that the other club should have had similar results to the Redbirds.
I hope the Cardinals don't get homer happy. Because I still believe that this is team that will rely more on timely doubles than titanic blasts. When you start to swing for the fences, typically, batting average and pitch selection start to go out the window.
But I am encouraged that the Birds are seeing results because they're hitting the ball solidly -- not because they're trying to pull everything out of the park.
When I heard on the radio that Freese hit a homer Monday against the Reds, the first thing I did was run for the replay to see his swing. And I was glad to see his shot fly over the boards in right -- his opposite field. Same goes with Yadi's blast -- which he hit just right of straight away centerfield.
Maybe the best example of a great hitter losing it by trying to pull everything was former Cardinals third sacker Fernando Tatis who went from hitting 34 homers with 107 RBIs for the 1999 Redbirds to hitting .253 with 18 long balls the next year. And it was all downhill from there. He hit as high as 15 homers only one more time over the balance of his career and went from a rising start to washing out of baseball before he returned as a utility player with the Mets.
I imagine it's pretty tough for Freese to keep his head on straight while trying to live up to his incredible post season performance. But, at least so far, he seems to be doing a pretty good job.