A look back at the 2014 Cardinals season

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Courtesy of Google

Ryan Davidson, sports writer

For some Cardinal fans, 2014 may have been a disappointment despite the team going 90-72, winning the National League Central division title for the third time in the last six years and reaching the NLCS for the fourth consecutive season. The Cards should be given a significant amount of credit for their accomplishments this season, considering stretches of absences to catcher Yadier Molina, starting pitcher Michael Wacha and second baseman Kolten Wong. The team did not win as many games in 2014 than 2013 (97-65), but the team still had a solid overall performance.

The offense did not approach offseason expectations, as the run total (783 in 2013 to 619 in 2014) and batting average (.269 in 2013 to .253 in 2014) decreased dramatically. Nearly the whole offense underperformed, and the team’s 105 home runs ranked last in the National League.

The pitching staff remained similar to the strong force it was in 2013. Adam Wainwright (20-9, 2.38 ERA and 179 strikeouts in 32 starts) and Lance Lynn (15-10, 2.74 ERA and 181 strikeouts in 33 starts) each cashed in great seasons, and they would have each been serious Cy Young Award contenders if not for the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw’s legendary numbers (21-3, 1.77 ERA and 239 strikeouts in 27 starts).

One of the most valuable aspects of 2014 was the proven potential from some of the youngsters. Oscar Taveras confirmed his status as a potential starting outfielder (homered in major league debut), even though his batting average was only .239. Rookie Randal Grichuk earned a starting spot in right field by the end of the season, as he showed great promise through his defense for the 2015 season. Marco Gonzales had a solid rookie season (4-2 in 10 games), and a strong finish to the year may push him to the fifth spot in the pitching rotation over John Lackey and Carlos Martinez.

Team Awards:

Best Position Player: Shortstop, Jhonny Peralta

In his first season in St. Louis, Peralta led the team in home runs (21), doubles (38) and wins above replacement (5.8), in addition to being a valuable defensive shortstop.

Best Pitcher: Adam Wainwright

Wainwright had yet another Cy Young Award-caliber season, as he topped 19 wins and a sub-3.00 ERA (2.38) for the fourth time in his career.

Rookie of the Year: Second Baseman, Kolten Wong

Wong proved to be a strong starting middle infielder and showed his potential as an elite, possibly power-hitting second baseman (12 home runs in 402 at bats).

Biggest Surprise: Catcher, Yadier Molina

Molina was one of the most valuable players in the National League in 2013, so his .282 batting average and seven home runs this season were stunningly low, even though he missed about a quarter of the season.

Comeback Player of the Year: Pitcher, Lance Lynn

The second pitcher in the starting rotation dropped his ERA from 3.97 to 2.74, but about all other major statistics were nearly identical to those from 2013.