St. Louis Cardinals: Trusting in Matt Adams
Wow, I never thought I’d be writing about this St. Louis Cardinals topic. I will admit, when I found out that Matt Adams was going to be out for as long as he was, I was excited. I really wanted Mark Reynolds and Xavier Scruggs to get a shot. Fast forward four months later and I’m actually interested in what Adams can do for this slumping team.
There’s a myth going around about Matt Adams, a myth that states he is a bad hitter. We discussed the other day how hard it is to be a power hitter in Busch Stadium, especially from the left side. Let’s take a look at some of Adams’ career numbers. One thing people forget is that Adams is only a year removed from being a .288 hitter. Yes I am sure we would all love to see more than 15 home runs from him especially given he hit more in less AB the season before. However, let’s not forget last season was Matt Adams’ first “full” season in the big leagues. So, a .288 hitter for a guy who has the propensity to strike out a lot is pretty darn good. I think last season he also did a very good job of trying to hit away from the shift. Sometimes this hurt him though.
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About those strikeouts we don’t like. There’s a player that has taken the league by storm this season and has gotten a little too much publicity in my opinion. Know who this is? If you guessed Kris Bryant, you are right on target! Taking a look at his numbers shows us that he does have a good power stroke with 24 HR so far and a decent .271 BA. However, Bryant has only hit a couple of his HR away from the hitter friendly Wrigley Field. Bryant has also struck out 175 times (!!!) that’s a lot of K’s. Specifically, 61 more than Adams had last season. So, the strikeouts could be better, but they could be much much worse.
I am going to bring in another comparison here. This player, like Adams is a young hitter who was a more highly touted prospect than Adams was. This player has been in the major leagues for parts of five seasons and is currently in his fourth year as a starter. In his first three years as a starter he didn’t hit above .242 with 20 homers.
Taking a look at this player’s minor league numbers, shows that they are eerily similar to Adams’ numbers. Strictly looking at average and home runs, the numbers look like this: .272/22, .250/16, .322/36, .307/10. Whereas Adams’ minors numbers are .355/10, .310/22, .300/32, .329/18.
You’re probably curious about who this player is by now. It’s Mike Moustakas, a player who before last postseason everyone had written off as a bust. Moustakas or “Moose” as he’s affectionately called, didn’t even have a great average in the postseason last year, but he did come up with some clutch hits with 2 HR in both the DS/LCS and one in the WS. This season has been an incredible turnaround for Moose, his slash looks much more similar to his minors numbers at .281/.345/.454 all being career highs by a long shot. Coincidentally, like Adams, Moose plays in a very spacious ball park 81 games a year.
Ned Yost and the Royals’ organization have let Moustakas grow into the role of their everyday 3B and for good reason, the guy showed in the minors that he could be a consistent hitter (and he was #2 pick in 2007). Adams surprisingly is slightly older than Moustakas and has had even better success throughout both stages of his career.
Look, I know it’s really hard for Cardinals fans to look around the league and see all of the power hitting 1B (Jose Abreu, Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo, Albert Pujols, etc.) and not expect your power hitting 1B to put up similar numbers. It’s also hard given how spoiled we were to have a player like Albert for 10 seasons. The fact remains, that we are in an era with more dominant pitchers than exceptional offensive talent and guys like Pujols don’t grow on trees.
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So Cardinal nation, be patient with Matt Adams. I have a feeling he will get better and if you look around the league, it could be worse. I, for one am excited to see someone other than Moss/Reynolds out there. Remember, this offense can only get better from here and Matt Adams is going to be apart of that.