St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina reacts in the ninth...

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina reacts in the ninth inning after the Cardinals took the lead against the Washington Nationals in Game 5 of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park. (Oct. 12, 2012) Credit: Getty

What’s happened to the Cardinals? That incredible collection of clutch that was unstoppable during the regular season is now on the brink of elimination in the playoffs.

Let this be a lesson in assigning too much predictive power to the fickle trait of hitting with runners in scoring position.

The Cardinals led all of MLB with a .330 RISP average during the regular season – and we mean they led baseball by A LOT. The next most productive team was the Tigers, who had a .282 RISP average. The major league average was .255.

In short, the Cards were way past due for some regression.

Batting average on balls in play is a good determinant of luck. Too high above a baseline and you’re getting pretty lucky. Too low and you could be primed for a bounce back. The major league average BABIP for RISP hitting was .296 in 2013. The Cardinals? Over 80 points higher at .377.

Plus their top hitter with RISP, Allen Craig, is out for the postseason. Craig had a .453 average (59-for-130) with RISP. Without him, the Cardinals already drop from .330 to .316.

But during the postseason the bottom has fallen out.

The Cards are a mere 3-for-20 (.150 average) with RISP – and that includes going 2-for-10 during a blowout of A.J. Burnett in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. They’re 1-for-10 since.

The Cardinals are a good offensive team. But they weren’t nearly as good as they looked during the regular season.

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