2022 Is St. Louis Cardinals’ Best Non-Championship Season Ever
The 2022 St. Louis Cardinals were just swept in the Wild Card round of the playoffs by the Philadelphia Phillies. The Cards have 11 World Series titles in their franchise history, so perhaps these words ring hollow in light of such historical success, but the 2022 season was likely their best non-championship season ever. St. Louis fans witnessed a number of accomplishments which made this campaign particularly unique and worthy of recognition.
NL Central Division Champions
This season marked the 12th NL Central title in Cardinals’ history, which is by far the most of any team in their division. Their 93-69 record and +135 run differential were both good for sixth of all MLB teams in 2022. Although they did not win another game after the regular season, a division title is a division title.
Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado MVP Campaigns
The St. Louis Cardinals had not one, but two MVP-level campaigns this year. One came from first baseman Paul Goldschmidt in his fourth season with the club. Goldy finished with a .317 batting average to go with 35 home runs and 115 RBI. His 180 OPS+ led the National League and his 7.8 bWAR was good for fifth in all of baseball.
On the other side of the diamond, third baseman Nolan Arenado put together an incredible season of his own. He turned in a .293 batting average with 30 homers and 103 RBI. His exceptional defense gave him the slight edge over Goldschmidt with a 7.9 bWAR, the fourth-best in MLB. Arenado also had a 154 OPS+.
Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina Battery Record
Longtime Cardinals Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina set a record on September 14th when they took the field together for the 325th time as a battery. The previous record was held by Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan, who made 324 starts together for the Detroit Tigers in the 1960s and 1970s. Wainwright has recorded 212 wins with Molina behind the dish. Breaking the record was an excellent way to cap off Yadi’s career as he plans to retire after this season.
Albert Pujols 700 Home Runs
The most meaningful accomplishment of the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2022 season came when Albert Pujols hit career home run No. 700. He exploded after the All-Star Break to close in on the achievement in his age-42 season. Pujols hit 18 homers and drove in 48 runs in the second half, enough for second and sixth in MLB respectively over that span. The Machine finished with 703 home runs, becoming just the fourth member of the 700 Home Run Club. He also passed Babe Ruth for second place on the all-time RBI list, ending with 2,218. Pujols will be a no-doubt first-ballot inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
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