As the end of 2012 season sneaks ever closer, the St. Louis Cardinals find themselves in an interesting position.
While they are not sitting on top of the NL Central, they are within striking distance of the Cincinnati Reds. After Sunday's extra-innings loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, the Cardinals are seven games behind the Reds and 2.5 games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Expecting the Cardinals to repeat the amazing run they had in August/ September 2011 is not realistic. What happened in 2011 was amazing to watch, but it was the exception, not the rule.
While it's still mathematically possible for them to make a run for the division title, the more realistic option is that they push into one of the two wild-card spots.
As of right now, the Cardinals are tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers, 2.5 games behind the Pirates with six games to go in their season series.
The following are several reasons the second wild-card spot is the most realistic goal for the Cardinals at this point.