Unfortunately, since I'm a rabid St. Louis Cardinals fan, the 2011 Cardinals are a prime example of playing the wrong type of baseball in the wrong league. What do I mean by that statement?
The Cardinals have played good old fashioned American league baseball of moving base to base, one at a time in a methodical manner in which to score runs, and every now and then they score a lot of runs by way of the home run.
The problem is, the Cardinals play in the National league and that style of baseball historically has not fared well over the course of a full season. It's easy to understand how the team fell into this type of play, with the likes of Albert Pujos, possibly the greatest hitter to play the game, Matt Holladay, a muscular power hitter protecting Pujos in the line-up, then acquiring Lance Berkman whose resurgence since being discarded by the Houston Astros, is the stuff of Hollywood movies, the lineup is potent.
However, what's the great debate? "Good pitching stops good hitting" and that has proven true too many times through the season. When the Cardinals click, they provide an offensive display that few other clubs in the major league can compete with, but when they don't click, the game turns into a boring frustration, hard to watch.
Don't misunderstand me, there's nothing wrong with having a power laden batting line-up and the Cardinals' failures this year can be contributed to more than just playing the wrong kind of baseball, but one issue at a time.
The Cardinals have hit into more double plays, an alarming amount more, than any club in baseball in either league. Some will argue that's the result of the Cardinals high team batting average, which translates into more base runners, thus more opportunities to hit into double plays.
To a certain extent that reasoning is valid, however, if the Cardinals traditionally put a lot of base runners on during a normal game, it would seem worth the risk to have runners on the move via the Steal or Hit & Run instead of staying stationary hoping for a home run or a hit into the gap.
This non-aggressive offensive play on the base paths leaves the pitcher confident he can devote his full attention to getting the batter out, and only a courtesy throw over to first every now and then is sufficient.
This situation allows the pitcher to throw "his" pitch to the batter, resulting in a record setting year of hitting into double plays. The double play is not only the pitcher's best friend, but it breaks the moral of a baseball team quicker than any other offensive play. It really doesn't matter if your lead off hitter reaches first base safely every inning, if he's just put out by the next hitter in a DP.
National league baseball historically played aggressive offense on the base paths while the American league lumbered along with power hitting. Both styles are effective, however to mix one style with another for a full year is not productive, as the Cardinals are finding out as they slip into oblivion and out of the playoff picture.
The two different styles should collide in a Fall event known as the World Series, and not during the season.