The St. Louis Cardinals took the second Wild Card spot in September and never looked back.
In a fantastic month that included a 17-game winning streak, the Cards made it to the postseason.
There, they lost a hotly contested game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
However, the Cardinals have a lot to be proud of.
Here are three reasons why their fans should be smiling right now.
3. Unbeatable For 17 Straight Games
One of the greatest stories of the Cardinals’ 2021 season was their 17-game winning streak.
From September 11 to the 28, St. Louis just couldn’t lose: they didn’t know how.
And, of course, they weren’t interested in doing it since they needed all the wins they could take to put some ground between them and the rest of the competition for the second National League Wild Card spot.
It was nice to see the team firing on all cylinders for a little over two weeks.
The Cardinals take pride in being an awesome defensive team, led by future Hall of Fame candidate Yadier Molina and the multiple Gold Glove-winning Arenado.
Excellent fielding was the backbone of the winning streak, as evidenced by the play against the Chicago Cubs on September 25.
It was a perfectly synchronized infield action in which the Cardinals got two outs and escaped a jam.
a WILD double play from the hottest team in baseball 🔥
The Cardinals (-150) up 1 against the Cubspic.twitter.com/KiDoxBLwcn
— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) September 25, 2021
Pitching, defense, hitting, baserunning…everything clicked for the Cardinals during 17 impressive games.
2. Unexpected Great Seasons From Veterans And Youngsters Alike
Not only were the Cardinals able to convert two veteran, apparently finished starters like Jon Lester and J.A. Happ into steady contributors, but the team was able to guide slugger Tyler O’Neill into a breakout season (.286/.352/.560, 34 home runs, 15 stolen bases).
Another #STLFLY hitter to watch tonight is 26-year-old breakout star Tyler O'Neill
CRUSHES the ball, but strikes out a ton. Still managed to hit .318/.391/.641 since August 1st
144 wRC+ for the year, 34 HR + 15 SBs
— Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma) October 6, 2021
Additionally, Goldschmidt (31 home runs, 4.9 Wins Above Replacement or WAR) and Arenado (34 homers, 4.0 WAR) were offensive juggernauts, too.
The Cardinals achieved a lot with a seemingly limited roster.
Everybody laughed at them when their deadline bounty was Lester and Happ, two pitchers closer to 40 than 30.
But they threw quality start after quality start, and the organization deserves some credit for the success of these players.
1. Adam Wainwright Remains Elite…At 40
The pitcher that carried the Cardinals rotation all year long turned 40 a month ago.
Yes, Jack Flaherty is the most talented hurler in St. Louis, but he was limited by shoulder issues this year.
Adam Wainwright made it to the season in one piece, and what a campaign he had.
In 32 starts and 206.1 innings, Waino had a 3.05 ERA and a 21.0 percent strikeout rate, impressive numbers for someone his age.
From 2016 to 2019, Wainwright had four straight seasons with an ERA over 4.00, and he looked washed up.
But in 2020, he had a 3.15 ERA.
Some chalked it up to the small sample size noise associated with the short season, but he validated that success in 2021 over more than 200 frames.
He was the ace of the Cardinals staff, and a bright spot for them all year long.
He even limited the almighty Dodgers to one run in 5.2 frames during the Wild Card Game.