Oscar Taveras: What Could Have Been
It’s been just over 24 hours since Cardinal Nation found out about the tragic passing of St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras at the young age of 22.
The Cardinals family as well as Taveras’ own family are mourning a young man not only as a ballplayer but as a person. When I first read the news come across my email, I was in denial. I couldn’t believe it. Not Oscar. Not a player that would play a key role in the future of the Cardinals for years to come.
Not to the organization that went through this twice before in 2002 with Darryl Kile and in 2007 with Josh Hancock.
Not to a player who was only 22 years old.
It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Not like this. And not so young.
We knew the talent that he had as he climbed through the Cardinals organization and how John Mozeliak talked about him being the best hitting prospect the club has seen since Albert Pujols. The team made the move in July to make sure that he’d be the right fielder of the future and they were planning for that.
Taveras was often compared to Vladimir Guerrero as a hitter. Could he have provided similar numbers throughout the rest of his career? It’s possible that he could have won a batting title, led the Cardinals to several more postseason appearances, and maybe even demolish Stan Musial‘s franchise record for career home runs as he paved his path to Cooperstown. True, Taveras didn’t get a chance to shine during the 2014 season as he fought for playing time with Randal Grichuk so we never truly got to see the real Oscar.
Taveras lost out on starting time in the postseason because he didn’t have the passion for defense as manager Mike Matheny put it during the Cardinals annual post-season press conference last week. However, when Taveras got the chance to hit, he came through and in a big way.
I’ll never forget his home run in Game 2 of the 2014 NLCS against the San Francisco Giants–on my 30th birthday, nevertheless. I knew that the ball was out of the park as soon as it left the bat.
Now we’ll never know what could have been.