Alex Gordon needs to step up production at the plate. (photo/MLB)

Alex Gordon needs to step up production at the plate. (photo/MLB)

Through much of the 2015 season I had the unique view of following both of our baseball teams as they led their respective Central Divisions for much of that year.

Never were the Royals more than one game out of first place.  That last happened on June 7th.  They tied for first on Monday June 8th and took over leading by as many as 14.5 games before finishing with 95 wins, fourth most in all of baseball.

The same can be said for the Cardinals, but their climb was even more impressive.  St. Louis spent a total of six days out of first place.  On Friday April 17th, the Cardinals moved into first place and never let their lead get away from them as they were chased by Pittsburgh and Chicago.  They led by as many as nine games and never fewer until two on the final day of the season, finishing with 100.

When will another starter, other than Carlos Martinez begin to step up?. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

When will another starter, other than Carlos Martinez begin to step up?. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

2016 is off to quite a different for both teams.  The Royals are 12-11 and the Cardinals 12-12, not bad first months of the season by any stretch of the imagination.

However, the Royals are already in a four-game hole and the Cardinals a six-game hole.  Both of our teams are not only sitting in third place, but both are chasing the Chicago teams who have jumped out to great starts.

The White Sox (17-8) and the Cubs (17-5) share the claim of having the most wins in MLB and best records in their leagues.

How do our teams get things turned around?  For each team, its very different reasons.  KC needs hitting, STL needs pitching.

The Royals compared to last April, have scored 42 fewer runs.  They’ve allowed seven more runs, but the Royals have played one more game this month than 2015.

Alex Gordon .208, Alcides Escobar .214, Lorenzo Cain .220, and Kendrys Morales .226, are part of the issue.  They’ve accounted for only 27 RBIs.  Last year’s April–those four combined for 50 RBIs, (17 from Kendrys, 13 from Alex, 12 from Cain and 8 from Esky).

For the Cardinals, the story is starting pitching.  Offensively, the club is way ahead of their ’15 run production.  While the Cardinals have scored 50 more runs than last April (142-92), they’ve also allowed 48 more runs. (103 compared to 55).

The WHIP (Walks + hits in an inning average) for the starters this year is high.  Wacha, Leake and Wainwright are all over 1.33 with Adam at nearly 1.7 batters reaching base per inning.  Last year, the Cardinals only had one starter Lance Lynn, with a WHIP over 1.3 the entire season.

Wacha’s ERA was nearly a half run lower in 2015.  Leake is 0-5 with an ERA of 5.83.  He’s trying to replace John Lackey’s April numbers which weren’t great when he went 1-1 with a 4.38 ERA. The biggest difference is Adam Wainwright.  His April ERA of 7.16 is monumental.  Considering Wainwright’s numbers in all 70 career losses, his ERA is only 5.85.  We’ve never seen Wainwright like this.

There were high expectations and some questions for both teams heading into the season.  We didn’t expect the Royals to struggle with driving in runs and we didn’t expect the Cardinals to struggle with starting pitching.  Concerning yes, but still five months to correct those issues and turn things around.

That all starts today, May 1!