It always has, always will and, for the most part, always should boil down to what matters most when it comes to Cardinals baseball.
We’re talking wins.
The Cardinals have made winning their brand. They sell their success, and make a fine profit because of it. When that brand was beginning to look a bit faded, and the postseason misses were starting to stack up, they told us Mike Shildt was the right manager for an on-the-fly restoration.
Here was a home-grown tactician who sharpened his skills and earned the trust of players and coaches alike during his climb from the bottom. Here was an All-Star in communication with an unquenchable appetite for analytics and any observation that might give his team an edge. Here was a living Cardinals historian who knows what this job means while also knowing he has the chops for it. He is the perfect balance between appreciation of the opportunity and conviction that he can raise the bar set by his mentors.
Yeah, yeah, but will he win?
We can only work with the sample size we have, but Shildt will reach somewhat of a milestone on Thursday afternoon, when his Cardinals attempt to sweep the Nationals. It’s his 100th game as Cardinals manager.
When you reach your 100th day of school, the teachers might hang a banner in hallway and pass out cupcakes.
Shildt isn't asking for a cookie, but let's run some numbers.
Yes, it's early. Yes, the numbers are impressive. The former should not dismiss the latter.
Here’s a quick look at Shildt’s resumé through 99 games . . .
61: The Cardinals’ 61 wins since Shildt slid into the manager’s seat on July 15, 2018 are the most wins in baseball during that span. If you are wondering how competitive the division has been lately, both the Brewers (58) and Cubs (57) can be found in the top-five. A manager's moves might give or take away a handful of wins over the course of the season. Shildt tips the scales in the positive direction, clearly.
.616: The Cardinals’ .616 winning percentage under Shildt ranks second in baseball and first in the National League. Only the red-hot Rays (.619) can beat that. No NL competitor is above the Dodgers’ .594. It’s early, as mentioned above, but Shildt’s winning percentage leads all Cardinals managers at this point. This stat – mined by the Cardinals PR team – likely means more: Shildt’s winning percentage ranks seventh all-time among MLB managers with 99-plus games beneath their belt.
.640: The Cardinals’ home record reads 32-18 under Shildt. That .640 winning percentage at Busch Stadium is the best in the NL. Only four other NL teams (Dodgers, Rockies, Brewers, Cubs) are above .600 at home over the same span.
95: Under Shildt, the Cardinals have outscored their opponents by a combined 95 runs, an average of nearly one run per game.
20: Shildt has now managed 31 series as Cardinals manager. His club has claimed 20 of them. That includes six sweeps, with a chance for a seventh if the Cardinals beat the Nationals on Thursday.
Did I mention it's early? No one is throwing a parade, and Shildt won’t accept one until it’s celebrating a World Series. That said, the manager's first 100 games suggest lofty expectations moving forward.