2014 Arch Awards: Cardinals Were the Best St. Louis Team of 2014


Earlier this month, we asked our readers at Arch Authority to help us with our annual “Arch Awards” by voting for numerous categories, one of which was the best team in St. Louis in 2014. There were three potential choices: the 2014 St. Louis Cardinals, the 2014 Missouri Tigers football team, and the 2013-14 Saint Louis University Billikens basketball team.

In a vote that wasn’t exactly close, the Cardinals emerged as the victors. While they didn’t achieve the yearly desired goal of winning or even making the World Series in 2014, they asserted their dominance as a franchise by making it to the National League Championship Series for a fourth straight season.

While they were plenty talented, the Cardinals didn’t have an easy path to the NLCS by any means. The team got off to a rough start at the plate in April, necessitating the demotion of Opening Day second baseman Kolten Wong (who hit .225 in April) to Triple-A and the benching of Opening Day center fielder Peter Bourjos, who hit .160 over the season’s first month. Right fielder Allen Craig, who formerly had been one of the best run producers in baseball, also started in a slump and hit .220 in April, and though he hit .291 with 19 RBI in May, he stayed cool throughout the remainder of the season, eventually sparking his trade to the Boston Red Sox at the deadline. The player who replaced him in the lineup and was projected to have a strong rookie showing, Oscar Taveras (who went on to tragically die in a car accident following the season), hit just .239 and was replaced in the lineup by less-heralded prospect Randal Grichuk in September.

As if that wasn’t enough, catcher Yadier Molina went down with a hand injury in early July which caused him to miss more than six weeks. Though Molina made his recovery significantly ahead of the projected timetable, the Cardinals were still forced to survive with backup Tony Cruz, and later Red Sox castoff A.J. Pierzynski, behind the plate for a large chunk of the summer.

Things were tough on the pitching side, too. Starter Joe Kelly suffered a hamstring injury in April which ended up being much more serious than initially thought, keeping him out for nearly the entire first half. The pitcher who replaced him, Jaime Garcia, suffered a season-ending shoulder injury after just a few starts. Then after the Cardinals traded for Justin Masterson at the deadline in hopes of solidifying the spot, he went on to go 2-3 with a 7.90 ERA in six starts and was removed from the rotation before the end of the regular season.

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Somehow, though, the Cardinals prevailed. The starters, in particular Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn, were consistent enough to make up for the Cards’ periodic drop-offs in offense throughout the season, and players like Wong, Jon Jay, Matt Adams, and Jhonny Peralta ended up exceeding expectations enough to serve as legitimate complements to the kingpins of the offense like Molina, Matt Holliday, and Matt Carpenter.

Add in the dominance of surprise All-Star Pat Neshek and closer Trevor Rosenthal, and the Cardinals had a very solid season. Perhaps the most impressive thing about it was that the team showed that even in times of heavy adversity, they can be resilient and still achieve their goals. While the Cards ultimately lost in the NLCS to the eventual World Champion San Francisco Giants, there’s no reason to be disappointed in their 2014 performance.

Congratulations to the 2014 St. Louis Cardinals on winning the 2014 Arch Award for the best team of the year in St. Louis! That concludes our Arch Awards for this year. To those of you who helped us out by participating in the voting, thank you!

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