Hottest and Coldest St. Louis Cardinals Heading into the Season's 2nd Half
The St. Louis Cardinals once again have the best record in baseball. If they can match that performance in the second half of the season, they're looking at over 100 wins.
But in order to do so, some players may need to step up.
As is natural, not everyone within the club has been pulling their weight lately. I've taken a look at the three hottest and coldest players heading into the break, keeping in mind statistics, capabilities and their value to the team.
Read on to find out who's hot and who's not!
All statistics courtesy of baseball-reference.com.
Allen Craig: HOT
Once called underrated, some new nicknames—The RBI Machine, The Wrench, The Amazing Whacker Guy—have been emerging for Craig, who finally seems to be getting the recognition he deserves.
This powerhouse first baseman has been absolutely dominant when it comes to driving in runs.
In the past two weeks, he's hitting .436 with 11 RBI and a whopping 1.115 OPS.
Meanwhile, Matt Adams, who's hitting .316 this year with seven homers in 144 plate appearances, waits patiently in the wings. Only a guy like Craig could justify sitting Adams.
Craig is another All-Star whom Cardinals fans can get excited about what he has to bring to the table in the second half of the season.
Matt Carpenter: HOT
Carpenter is currently enjoying a breakout All-Star season at a position he learned just months ago. His ability to get on base is astounding and his presence as a leadoff hitter almost seems to be the key to the Cardinals' success this year.
In the past month, he's hitting .352 with a .392 OBP and 20 RBI. Furthermore, he's had 32 hits, with nine being doubles.
He's quickly becoming a favorite of Cardinals fans everywhere. If he stays this hot, the playoffs are almost undoubtedly in St. Louis' future.
Yadier Molina: HOT
It's no secret that Molina is having an MVP-worthy season. The former defense-based catcher is all grown up and hitting homers!
In fact, he recently hit a three-run bomb against the Cubs leading into the All-Star Game, for which he was chosen as an NL starter. If that's not hot, I don't know what is.
In the past week, he has an OPS of .846. But perhaps more impressive is that three of his seven home runs this year were hit in the past month.
What Yadi needs now is to be careful and rest. Issues with his knees recently sidelined him and he's logged the second-most innings of any catcher in baseball. An integral part to their success, the Cards are going to need him healthy.
Pete Kozma: COLD
With Mitchell Boggs and Ty Wigginton now gone, Cardinals fans need a scapegoat. Kozma seems like a good candidate.
He's had an interesting road, originally replacing an injured Rafael Furcal in 2012 and then earning the starting shortstop position this year despite rumors the Cards might be looking to buy some new talent.
In the past month, he's hitting an embarrassing .143 with just eight hits in 58 plate appearances with 15 strikeouts.
Kozma has in some ways defied expectations. However, his recent cooldown is troubling. In addition to trade rumors, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold is reporting that the Cards have Ryan Jackson looking for his shot down in Triple-A.
If Kozma doesn't shape up in the first few weeks of the second half, there could be looking at a fresh face in the infield.
Matt Holliday: COLD
There's been a lot of talk about the Cardinals' loud offense, and shockingly enough, Holliday hasn't really been a part of the conversation. The perennial marquee name has struggled a bit this year, showing sparks at times, but never truly heating up.
In the past month, he's hitting .254 with 15 hits in 67 plate appearances. And on top of that, the masher has only hit three homers in that time.
To make matters worse, he's recently been day-to-day with a tight hamstring. If he can get back to his usual form, one can only dream about what the Cardinal bats can accomplish.
Lance Lynn: COLD
In 2012, Lynn was an 18-game winner and an All-Star. And yet, after the break he found himself struggling and sent to the bullpen to sort himself out.
It seems history may repeat itself. He has 11 wins already this year, but he's recently gotten into the habit of imploding in at least one inning of every start.
In his last start, he was shelled for six runs in 4.1 innings pitched. In the past two weeks, he has posted an ERA of 6.35 in just 11.1 innings.
He's not the only one in the rotation who's struggling—Rookie of the Year candidate Shelby Miller seems to be tiring out. Suddenly, the rotation that was cruising at the beginning of the year has hit a few bumps in the road.
It remains to be seen whether Lynn will sort himself out before he sees another stint in the pen.