Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  By STAN McNEAL  |  Last updated 9/3/13
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals are playing for more than an NL Central crown and home-field advantage in the playoffs. Some of them are, anyway. Numerous players also have a chance to finish 2013 with a notable individual achievement. Here are seven who could go either way in the final 25 games. ALLEN CRAIG With 97 RBIs, Craig is a lock for his first 100 RBI season, but a more telling number to focus on is .469. That was George Brett's batting average with runners in scoring position in 1980, the highest such average recorded (at least in the database of STATS LLC). Craig's RISP average climbed as high as .485 in late July, but after a "slump" in August (10 for 25, a mere .400), he enters the stretch at .453. Going 4 for 4 would put Craig's RISP average at .470, so he remains within reach of Brett. Finishing ahead of the Hall of Famer won't be easy, though. If Craig takes the same number of at-bats with RISP in September as he did in August, he would need to go 14 for 25 to finish No. 1. ADAM WAINWRIGHT With two wins since July 22, Wainwright (15-9) no longer is within realistic reach of his second 20-win season. To hit that milestone, Wainwright would have to win his final five starts. One hitch: He probably has only four starts left. The way the rotation is set up, a fifth start for Wainwright would come on the final day of the regular season. If September proceeds as the Cardinals hope, Wainwright will not be needed to pitch in the regular-season finale. Wainwright still has a chance to accomplish one of his stated goals for the season, which is to finish with fewer walks than starts. After walking two on Monday, he has lost all room for error. Wainwright now has walked 29 in 29 starts. His past two abbreviated outings also have taken Wainwright slightly off pace to surpass his high in innings pitched. With 206 23 innings, he needs to average just less than seven innings in four starts to top his 233 innings in 2009. YADIER MOLINA Molina should have only one goal the rest of this month: Make sure he's healthy for the playoffs. With a sore left wrist to go with an ailing right knee, you wonder how likely that is. You don't have to wonder how his health correlates to his batting average. A rested and ready Molina went 13 for 31 (.419) in his first seven games off the disabled list, lifting his average to what was an NL-best .337. In the eight games since, however, Molina has hit .200 (6 for 30) and his average has dropped to .327, seven points behind NL leader Chris Johnson of the Braves. While a batting title would enhance Molina's chances of winning the NL MVP, it would have even greater meaning for the Cardinals. It likely would mean he has stayed healthy down the stretch. EDWARD MUJICA Mujica picked a fine time to break out as a closer. He will become a free agent after the season and his 2013 numbers -- three walks in 58 13 innings, a 0.81 WHIP and 1.35 ERA -- should mean a nice bump from his 3.2 million salary and his first multi-year deal. He figures to have plenty of suitors even if he were to struggle the rest of the way. But if Mujica wants to assure himself of being a closer somewhere next year, he needs to prove he can finish close games in a pennant race. The Cardinals hope he has plenty of opportunities in September. MATT HOLLIDAY All Holliday typically says about his numbers is to check them at the end of the year. When you checked them from 2005-2010, you would see he hit .300 every season. But he slipped to .296 in 2011 and .295 in 2012. His average sits at .287 Tuesday, impressive since he finished the first half at .268. For his career, Holliday has hit .313 after August. He'll need to finish better than that to hit .300. If he were to bat 100 more times, Holliday would need to hit .360 to get to .300. As hot as he's been, he's still hitting "only" .331 since the break. CARLOS BELTRAN Beltran never has hit higher than .307 in any season when he played in half of his team's games. Until this year. All Beltran needs to finish with a career-best batting average is to maintain his .310 the rest of the way. Though he never misses a chance to say he'd prefer to be on the field, the extra rest he has been given this year has paid off. Beltran is hitting .312 since the All-Star break; he hit .236 after the break in 2012. To finish with a career-best average at 36 would only add to the already-impressive resume Beltran can show off when he becomes a free agent this off-season. PETE KOZMA An awful August (3 for 48, .063) has put Kozma in line to finish with the lowest batting average for a shortstop in Cardinals history. He enters Tuesday hitting .215 as a shortstop. The previous low was turned in by Brendan Ryan, who hit .223 in 2010. You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at stanmcneal@gmail.com.
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