Cardinals' Adam Wainwright may be most productive hitting pitcher in 45 years

Tuesday night the Cardinals scored a big win over the Rockies (STL 10, COL 5) to move into a three-way tie with the Mets and Giants for the two wild card spots. All three teams are now 80-71 with 12 days to go in the regular season. Should be a fun finish to the season.

St. Louis won Tuesday's game thanks largely to pitcher Adam Wainwright, though not necessarily because of his arm. Wainwright had a rather pedestrian start, actually. He allowed four runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. Not great, not awful. Just okay, I'd say.

Wainwright's big contribution Tuesday night came at the plate. He went 2 for 2 with a double and 4 RBI. Wainwright broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run double in the second, then increased the lead with a two-run single in the fifth. Here's video of his night on the mound and at the plate:

Tuesday's big night raised Wainwright's season batting line to .224/.250/.483 in 65 plate appearances, which is phenomenal for a pitcher. He's got a great chance to win the Silver Slugger. Wainwright has seven doubles, one triple, and two home runs this year. He's the first pitcher with 10 extra-base hits in a season since Micah Owings had 12 in 2007.

Wainwright also has 18 RBI this season, which is the most by any pitcher in 45 years. Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins, who drove in 20 runs with the 1971 Cubs, was the last pitcher with at least 18 RBI in the season. Wainwright has the most RBI ever by a pitcher during the DH era, which began in 1973.

Adam Wainwright has driven in 18 runs in 2016. USATSI

A pitcher who can hit like Wainwright is a huge advantage for an NL team. The offensive bar for pitchers is so low -- pitchers are hitting .132/.164/.171 in 2016 -- that having a guy who can get the bat on the ball and poke it into the gap once in a while is pretty valuable.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for,,,... Full Bio

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