At one level, the world champion St. Louis Cardinals can be considered lucky to have made the playoffs, given their mediocre regular season record. But these comments from reader and Cards fan Mark Arnold suggest that, given their injury woes, the Redbirds can be considered unlucky to have compiled a mediocre record:
At the end of May, [St. Louis] had the best record in the National League. Pujols was unconscious; his numbers projected to 80 homers and 220 RBIs. He severely strained a muscle in his ribcage at the beginning of June and went on the DL. When he came back, he was merely great, not unconscious.
At season’s beginning, Mark Mulder was tied for the most wins by a starting pitcher in the major leagues in the last five years and he won six games in April and May. After two disastrous outings in June, he went on the DL and ended up having rotator cuff surgery. To replace him, the Cards traded for Jeff Weaver in July after the Angels gave up on his 3-10 record and 6.50 ERA. Weaver’s first two starts in St. Louis were pathetic, but he gradually came round and won three critical post-season games with an ERA under 3.
The closer, Jason Isringhausen, had some disastrous appearances in August, went on the DL in early September, and had surgery on his hip. It wasn’t clear until the last week of September that Adam Wainwright would replace him. Wainwright gave up no runs in the post-season.
Rolen’s shoulder was not 100% at any point in the season. Eckstein was on the DL for much of August and September, at the very time Edmonds was out with a concussion. Sure, they staggered down the stretch. Half the team was in the hospital. It wasn’t until the playoffs that they had their full team on the field. Injuries are part of the game, but I’ve never seen a championship team overcome so many.
JOHN adds: Mark makes good points. I’ll only add that if Francisco Liriano’s forearm and Brad Radke’s shoulder hadn’t given out, it would have been the Twins celebrating a World Series victory! But when you have injuries is just as important as how many you have.