Cards ride clutch hitting to NL Central title

September, 28, 2013
9/28/13
12:03
AM ET
The St. Louis Cardinals have won the NL Central for the first time since 2009, clinching their eighth division title in the wild-card era (since 1994).

Their 95 wins are the most they've had in a season since 2005, when they won 100 games.

Historically, winning a lot of games doesn't correlate with the Cardinals' chances to win the World Series. Their last three World Series wins (2011, 2006, 1982) have come in seasons in which they've had 92 or fewer wins.

The Cardinals are now tied with the Atlanta Braves for the best record in the National League and have clinched home-field advantage in the Division Series. They will face either the Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates or Cincinnati Reds.

Clutch offense
The key for the Cardinals this season has been their clutch hitting. They're batting .330 with runners in scoring position this season, far ahead of any other team. The next-closest team is the Detroit Tigers, who are batting .283 with runners in scoring position. The next-closest NL team is the Colorado Rockies at .271.

The Cardinals' batting average with runners in scoring position is the highest by any team in the last 40 seasons.

Leading the way for the Cardinals in that regard is Allen Craig, whose .454 batting average with runners in scoring position is the third-highest by any player in the last 40 seasons (minimum 100 at-bats). Only Hall of Famers George Brett (1980) and Tony Gwynn (1997) have had higher averages.

Matt Carpenter has had a breakout season for the Cardinals. Carpenter is one hit shy of his 200th hit this season, which would make him sixth player in MLB history with 200 hits, 55 doubles and 125 runs scored in a season. The other five players are Ed Delahanty (1899), Tris Speaker (1923), Chuck Klein (1930), Charlie Gehringer (1936) and Todd Helton (2000), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

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