As baseball offenses go the 2019 St Louis Cardinals could best be described as a game of hide and seek. Score 10 runs one day and 0 runs the next. Some days it was small ball. Other times it was the long ball. Some days it was the regulars doing the job other days it was the bench. Then there were those periods where there was no offense. Weak ground balls and pop flies and a ton of strikeouts. If the Cardinals plan on getting further than the NLCS, they will need overall offensive consistency. Something that was severely lacking this last season.
Goldschmidt was up and down each month. Dexter Fowler came out of the box with strong numbers then seemingly hit a wall in May. he had a turn-around between June and Aug, then was MIA most of Sept. Paul DeJong had a tremendous April then his average became anemic yet he still slugged 25 HRs and drove in 65 runs between May and Aug. Kolten Wong was a tale of two halves almost a prior to All-Star break .244/.327/.376 After the All-Star break .342/.409/.487 Marcel Ozuna was a beast until he got hurt .259/.331/.515 20 HRS 62 RBIs finishing with .240/.330/.474 29 HRs 89 RBIs. He was big in the NLDS .429/.478/.857 3 doubles 2 HRs and 5 RBIs Then like the rest of the team seemed to sleepwalk through the NLCS. There was also the issue of players that never got on track. Matt Carpenter, Harrison Bader just never got their seasons going. They had flashes and moments but were far from solid offensive contributors.
Stand out issues
There are many issues that the Cardinals had this year offensively. The lead off spot was arguably the biggest. Carpenter started the year in that spot then Fowler took over, then rookie Tommy Edman got his shot at it. Collectively they hit .218/.323/.358 17 HRs 53 RBIs 89 R. and 171 SO a .28% K-rate 600 ABs.
Fowler, .211/.335/.356, Edman .254/.289/.375, Carpenter .204/.310/.352. When I think of a lead off hitter, I think a guy that gets on base, pressures defenses by either stealing bases or base running. Of those three Tommy Edman was close his. His BA and OBP are not what you think of as a lead off hitter. He was 7 for 7 in SB and with his speed, he has the ability to score from 1st on a double. The lead off spot and even the 2 shot will be critical if we want the middle of the order to drive in runs.
The next was hitting with Runners In Scoring Position. Team wise The Cardinals hit 116 Solo HRs 94 with men on base.
Runner on 3rd .206/.310/.308 3rd/0 out .100/.333/.100, W 1 out .324/.340/.515, W 2 outs .150/.282/.217 hitting .324 with 1 out is great but why can't we hit that way with NO ONE out!
Bases loaded .286/.329/.437 BL/0 outs .278/.296/.333, BL W 1 out .372/.385/.558, BL W2 outs .224/.297/.379. The best RISP slash comes with runners on 2nd and 3rd 0 outs .471/.550/.765 but that was with only 17 AB in that situation.
Our worst in almost every scenario is with 2 outs. As a team St. Louis hits .227/.312/.365 with 2 outs. With runners on and 2 outs it is .234/.314/.362 with RISP AND 2 outs .200/.304/.328. This is something that hitting coach Jeff Albert will have to address.
So what have we got to look forward to?
1B Paul Goldschmidt - (32) A 2019 Gold Glove finalist. Under contract until 2024,Lead the team in HRs 34, RBIs 97, BB 78. His BA and OBP was not what you would normally see from him, but his impact was noticeable. Pardon the pun, Goldy is GOLD for the next few years
2B Kolten Wong - (29) A 2019 Gold Glove winner under contract thru 2020 Set career highs this year in SB 24, BB 47 Tied his personal best in Avg .285his 59 RBIs and 61 RS were the best since 2015. If he has a 2020 similar to this year I see possible contract extension past 2021.
SS Paul DeJong - (26) Gold Glove finalist, 2019 All-Star under contract until 2023 with team options for 2024 & 25Set career highs in HRs 30, RBIs 78, BB 62 He is under contract thru 2023 and should be a fixture on the IF.
3B Matt Carpenter - (33) Under contract until 2021 with a vested option for 2022 (based on 1100 combined PAs in 20 &21) if he does not meet vesting his option salary drops to $12.5 mil or a 2 mil buyout. 2019 is a year Matt would like to forget. Career lows in BA .226, OBP .334, Lowest HR total (15) since 2014 Tied his lowest RBI total (46). Matt will have to get back to 2015 offensive numbers if wants to be a legitimate regular. With his 38 million dollar extension he will be hard to move or keep as a bench bat, should the Cardinals want another option at 3B.
Utility Tommy Edman - (24) Definitely the surprise of the season. He excited fans with his speed, defense, base running and power. Putting up numbers .304/.350/.500, 11 HRs 36 RBIs 15 SB and 7 triples while playing 3B, 2B and some time in the OF. his rookie status is still intact.
LF Marcel Ozuna - (29) Free Agent Prior to hurting his hand he was on fire in terms of HRs 20 and RBIs 62 in his first 293 ABs while slashing .259/.331/.515 After coming back from injury in 192 ABs .219/.327/.411 9HRs 27 RBIs The first half is what a healthy Ozuna can do. The Cardinals have given him a Qualifying Offer. There are some rumors that his agents are engaging in contract discussions. Marcel wants to stay in St Louis. No we will find out how bad.
CF Harrison Bader - (25) 2019 Gold Glove Finalist Arbitration eligible 2021 Free Agent 2025 After a luke warm year last year (.265/.334/.422 12 HRs 37 RBIs in 379 ABs). This year he barely kept his avg above the Mendoza Line. .205/.314/.366 12 HRs 39 RBIs. He will possibly get his shot at redemption unless he is traded, but he will have competition.
RF Dexter Fowler - (33) In the final two years of a 5 year $82.5 million dollar contract. After last year's horrible debacle of a season Dex bounced back. Although it was still disappointing in some respects. while he set career highs in HRs (19) and RBI (67) His SO total was the highest since 2015. (Excluding 2018) He had his lowest BA and OBP of his career. one bright spot was June through August when he hit.254/.333/.463 12 HRs and 45 RBIs. His contract especially the NTC makes him hard to move but if Dex does not find the improvement and consistency he needs the Cardinals will have to do something.
OF Jose Martinez - (31) Signed 2 year deal (19&20) for $3.25 million dollars. He has been one of the Cardinals steadiest hitters over the last two years. Last year with .305/.364/.457 with 17 HRs and 83 RBIs. This year with the addition of Goldschmidt his playing time and ABs diminished. Only getting 334 ABs this year slashing .269/.340/.410 with 10 HRs and 42 RBIs. It really is an unknown what his role will be next year.
Bench Yario Munoz - (24) Arbitration eligible 2021 Free Agent in 2025 His second year with the Cardinals he played 6 positions in 2019. Played mostly 2B and SS .267/.298/.355 in 172 ABs
Bench Tyler O'Neill - (24) Arbitration eligible in 2022 FA in 2025. He saw limited action appearing only in 60 games in his first 29 games he went .258/.300/.348 and 30 SO in 66 ABs 45% K-Rate. the second half of the season he hit .267/.321/.467 4 HRs 12 RBIs and a K-Rate while high was down to 30%. O'Neill's K-Rate as been his big hurdle. he needs to get it down if he has hopes of getting a regular position with St. Louis.
C Matt Wieters- (33) He is a Free Agent. He didn't slash well .214/.268/.435 11 HRs 27 RBIs. He was great to have around to back up Yadi hitting .218/.265/.484 9 HRs and 24 RBIs. Will the cardinals bring him back one more year. I think it unlikely but you never know.
We saw a number of prospects come up this year
CF Lane Thomas -(24) Made the biggest splash (outside of Tommy Edman) this year. He appeared as a pinch hitter mostly. starting in only 4 games slashing .467/.500/.800 with 1 HR and 6 RBIs. As a sub/PH Lane was .217/.357/.609 with 3 PH HRs. Strictly as a pinch hitter though Lane slashed .333/.385/1.083 So to say he is in the mix is an understatement.
1B Rangle Ravelo -(27) Used primarily as a pinch hitter(22 games) .250/.318/.500. As a starter (6 games) he hit .167/.200/.333. With Goldy at 1B and Carp more than likely on the roster I don't see much more than trade bait here
C Andrew Knizer - (24) Heralded as the heir apparent to Yadier Molina. He came up when Yadi was injured. He appeared in 18 games 13 as a starter in those games he slashed .224/.283/.388 Those numbers will have to improve If he is to take over for Yadi
OF Randy Arozarena - (24) Coming up in August he made 4 starts slashing.308/.400/.538 as a pinch hitter he was .400/.400/.600. The Cardinals were impressed with him enough to put him on the playoff roster. That to me speaks volumes about his chances of being on the 26 man roster in 2020
Others like Edmundo Sosa, Drew Robinson came up for a cup of coffee. Drew Robinson was released. Sosa will be in Spring training with the team and could oust Munoz as a back up at SS.
Then there is standouts like Dylan Carlson and Nolan Gorman both could be in Spring training this year with Carlson having a shot at coming north if not at the start of the season but at sometime during the year.
So to me at least 3/4 of the IF is set Goldschmidt, Wong, DeJong. With the young talent and whether or not Ozuna comes back, The make up of the OF is wide open. I think Ozuna will Re-sign. Thomas and Arozarena if they don't make the line up WILL be on the roster. The big question mark is 3B. Is it Carpenter's to lose or is there going to be an open competition and let the chips fall where they may. If the Cardinals stand pat I think the offense will be better but how much, and will it be enough to keep them atop the NL Central? An off season move to bring a Josh Donaldson (should he reject the QO from Atlanta) or a Mike Moustakaks to keep 3B warm in anticipation of Nolan Gorman could make all the difference. Let the hot stove begin!
Thanks for reading.
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