(The Spread) – No Albert Pujols? No problem. It’s early but the St. Louis Cardinals have picked up right where they left off in 2011.

Thanks to a fast-starting offense and excellent pitching, the Cardinals have started the season 4-1 and oddsmakers have taken notice. At the start of the season the Redbirds were 35/1 to win the 2012 World Series, but their odds have dropped all the way down to 25/1 as of Tuesday morning. Their National League pennant odds have dropped as well, shifting from 15/1 to 11/1.

St. Louis kicked off its defense of the 2011 World Series by beating the new-look Marlins in Miami on Opening Night. The Cards then traveled to Milwaukee and took two of three from their division rivals the Brewers before knocking off the Reds 7-1 on Monday night. They’ll be in Cincinnati for two more games before having an off day on Thursday and opening up at home versus the Cubs on Friday.

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Right now it’s difficult to pinpoint one thing that has allowed the Cardinals to get off to such a strong start, but let’s start with their offense. After struggling all spring, Rafael Furcal is batting .435 from the leadoff spot while David Freese has two home runs and eight RBI through five games. Lance Berkman is also leading to team in on-base percentage at a .526 clip, while offseason addition Carlos Beltran is hitting .318 with two home runs already.

The pitching has been solid as well. Kyle Lohse pitched a gem in the season opener and Jaime Garcia followed up his performance with a victory of his own. While Adam Wainwright took the loss in Game 2 against the Brewers, he showed no signs of struggling since bouncing back from Tommy John Surgery. Youngster Lance Lynn also picked up his first win of the season while pitching 6.2 innings of one-run ball, which is huge considering he replaced the injured Chris Carpenter in the starting rotation.

Again, it’s really early but people may have underestimated the Cardinals coming into the season.

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