Oct 10, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals pinch hitter
(15) hits a solo home run against the Chicago Cubs during the fifth inning in game two of the NLDS at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
#3 Randal Grichuk
Let me preface this, last season I was a staunch pessimist on Grichuk’s ability to hit consistently. I did not see Grichuk as a viable option in either CF or RF to start the season and wanted to see him develop a little bit more and cut down on the strikeouts a bit.
Grichuk’s season started with a back injury he suffered while weight lifting, injuries being the theme of the season means that Grichuk of course got injured again later in the season. This time it was a little more serious injury with the strained elbow.
Again, the reason I am listing Grichuk as a surprise here is that last season wasn’t the best introduction for the rookie OF. Yes, he hit some bombs (including one off of Kershaw in the playoffs), but he struggled mightily with the strikeout. Grichuk did have the fortune of not having much competition in terms of making the roster out of spring training.
However, when he came back from injury, Grichuk budged his way into the OF conversation with a .279 average during his first month back and Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos’ inability to do anything. Once Holliday went down he became the starting LF. From the point he took over for Holliday until the elbow injury sidelined Grichuk was torrid with a slash of .294/.353/.597 with 30 extra-base hits (13 homers, 12 doubles, and five triples) with an absurd wRC+ of 157 according to Fangraphs.
With that said, Grichuk did have a really high BABIP during that time of .385 and a K rate of 32% and as a staunch critic of Kris Bryant due to his abnormal BABIP and K rate, I have to temper my Grichuk expectations a bit.
However, I do think what we are seeing with Grichuk is what we will see for his career. Grichuk has extreme power and has the potential for 30 homers in a full season. However, there will be times like the latter half of his season (.192 with just 2 homers and one double) when he will struggle mightily.
The biggest concern for me is with his elbow, the team was very cautious with him after the injury (even in the postseason). I am concerned that it will pop at any time and he then will be forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. So, color me concerned on that front.