Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The Cardinals must be doing something right.
Actually, they must be doing a lot of things right.
Sixty-four games into the 2013 season, the post-Pujols Cardinals own the best record in Major League Baseball. They're on pace for 106 wins, which would be the team's highest win total since 1942. That's 28 years before their current manager, Mike Matheny, was even born.
Wednesday, the Red Birds play the Mets. That's too easy, in my opinion. Heck, this team deserves a challenge.
Let's schedule a series between the Cardinals and my fantasy team.
We'll have to fight over David Freese. Rock, paper, scissors. Best out of three.
I guess the real question is, can a major league team, even if it's a good one like the Cardinals, realistically post better numbers than a fantasy team?
Well, it depends on the team. Are we talking about a first place fantasy team or somebody in the middle of the pack?
First place is a bit out of reach, I'm afraid. Sorry, Cardinals.
It's closer than you'd think, though.
St. Louis is hitting .277 as a team in 2013. The top team in my eight-team fantasy league has posted a .293 average this season.
Okay, so maybe it's not that close. But that .277 clip, second-best in the major leagues this year, is certainly good enough to be competitive in my league. In fact, the league average is .273 (my team is at .274), which would make the Cardinals above average. For a basis of comparison, the major league average is just .253.
In my league, teams are homering about once every 28 at bats. In the majors, the average is about once every 34 at bats.
That isn't that big a difference. Where you really begin to see separation is when you start comparing the worst team in your fantasy league to the worst team in the major leagues.
Nice to meet you, Miami Marlins.
While the Cardinals have a 98.2 chance of qualifying for the postseason, it's safe to say the Marlins won't be joining them in October. As of Wednesday, they have a 0.1 percent chance of making the playoffs. That's only 0.1 percent better odds than my cousin's little league team.
Even the worst team in my league is batting .261 (remember the major league average is .253). The Marlins are well below that at a disappointing .229 (second-worst in MLB).
Miami's pitching has fared much better than their hitting. In 64 games, the Marlins have generated a 4.00 ERA, which is the same as the major league average.
The average ERA in my fantasy league is 3.61 with team ERAs ranging from 3.20 all the way to 4.32. Believe it or not, the Cardinals own a lower ERA (3.17) than all eight teams in my fantasy league.
In terms of WHIP, the Cardinals are right on par with my fantasy league's average (1.20). The best team in my league owns a 1.10 WHIP, slightly lower than the Braves, who lead the majors with a 1.16 WHIP in 578 1/3 innings.
The worst WHIP in my league is 1.29, far better than Houston's league-worst WHIP of 1.54. The major league average in WHIP this season is 1.30.
Fantasy teams in my league also hold the edge in strikeouts. In a combined 5,191 2/3 innings (if you're wondering why that number is so high, my fantasy league doesn't use an innings limit), teams in my league are averaging 8.37 strikeouts per nine innings. In the majors, that ratio is only 7.58 strikeouts per nine frames.
The other stats are much harder to keep track of. That's because in my league, we're allowed to start up to 13 players on offense and nine pitchers. Most of you already know that major league lineups are restricted to nine a side. That's probably why my team has logged over 3,000 at bats this season versus just 2,216 for St. Louis (the league average this season is 2,183 at bats per club).
That means my team has had almost 1,000 more opportunities to produce home runs and RBI than a typical ball club and it isn't even July. By the end of the season, my team will have had over 2,000 chances more than the Cardinals or any other team you could name in Major League Baseball.
That's why wins, saves, HR, RBI and steals are pretty much irrelevant when you're comparing a fantasy team to a regular team. Of course fantasy teams are going to have more because they're starting more players.
Fantasy teams should be considerably better than regular teams. Seventy-six players were selected to play in the major league All-Star Game last July. That means the average major league team has about two and a half All-Stars. In an eight-team fantasy league, that number increases to almost ten.
See how that could be a little uneven?
So bravo, St. Louis. You probably couldn't beat my fantasy team but I think it would be a close game.