Taking a look at the struggles of Cardinals’ Matt Adams
By Jake Misener
The Internet erupted two days ago when St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams snapped his bat in two after a strikeout. Jokes ranged from, “well, the bat wasn’t doing its job anyway,” to other jabs aimed at the struggling slugger.
On Friday, Adams was benched in favor of offseason acquisition Mark Reynolds, who has come up in the clutch for the Cardinals on multiple occasions in the last month, in hopes of giving the 26-year-old a chance to catch his breath – both mentally and physically – from a season that has not gotten off to the best of starts.
Adams carries a .236/.267/.355 slash-line into Saturday afternoon’s tilt against the Detroit Tigers and left-hander David Price – a far cry from his career marks. Over three-plus big league seasons, the left-handed-swinging Adams boasts a .770 OPS. This season, however, he comes in at just .622 in 32 games in which he’s hit just three home runs.
By contrast, Reynolds is batting .257/.337/.419 in 31 contests – a notable improvement from his strikeout-prone career line of .230/.325/.457. He’s also added two home runs while giving manager Mike Matheny notable ‘pop’ off the bench.
The season’s first month was no trouble at all for the Cardinals’ 23rd-round pick of the 2009 draft, as he batted .304/.338/.493, driving in 14 runs in 20 games – 17 of which were starts. He also added four doubles and all three of his home runs, as the Redbirds ran rough-shot through opponents all month-long.
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Once the calendar turned to May, however, Adams turned ice-cold. He’s got just a .143 OBP this month and has not hit any home runs – and is 5-for-41, as a whole, with all five hits being singles.
Over the course of his career, Adams has always been a hot starter who tends to fade during the month of May. He has an OPS in March and April games of .920 – but that clip falls off to .647 in May before working its way back up to .828 in June. So, essentially, this year falls right in-line with what he’s done his entire career.
That being said, he typically doesn’t struggle to the degree we’ve seen this year. His worst month of May to this point (this year aside) in his still-young big league career came back in 2013, when he batted .179/.179.179 in 16 games, going 5-for-28 in roughly half the month. That season, he wound up hitting 18 home runs and posting an .839 OPS as St. Louis returned to the Fall Classic, falling to the Boston Red Sox.
If there’s anything we can take from Matt Adams’ struggles this season, it’s this: historically, he’s been an up-and-down player, especially early-on during the season. Two weeks of poor offensive production is nothing to worry about and, odds are, he’ll be back in the swing of things before the calendar turns to June.