The St. Louis Cardinals’ Tommy Pham burst onto the scene last year scorching baseballs and providing key defense down the stretch. What will 2016 be like?
So, I was listening to Derrick Goold’s “Best Podcast in Baseball“, as I often do during this offseason, and John Manuel of Baseball America was raving about Tommy Pham. He mentioned that he has been high on Pham for a long time and that if he was eligible he would be making his top ten prospect list right now.
Which got me thinking, is Tommy Pham a valuable commodity moving forward for the St. Louis Cardinals? I have been thinking about this since the end of the postseason, and for some reason I initially thought that Pham wasn’t nearly as good as Stephen Piscotty and that his 2015 was a bit of a fluke, and expecting him to perform in 2016 like this past season was unfair.
However, looking at his minor league numbers (yes I know few and far between due to injuries) shows that maybe Pham can provide some life off of the bench, or in a starting role next season. With the Heyward sweepstakes well under way and not looking to end anytime soon, the Cardinals may be on the outside looking in.
One thing that has kept we down on Pham, his above average BABIP of .333 this past season. However, in 2014 at AAA Memphis Pham had a BABIP of .397 and an average of .324 to go along with his wRC+ of 132. In 2013, Pham had a BABIP of .371 and .338 at AA Springfield and AAA Memphis, with averages of .301 and .264. The only time Pham has not had a high BABIP was early in his career in 2006-2008 at the lower minor league levels.
Myabe the BABIP isn’t that much of a concern? When you look at two players that have historically had high BABIP in Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper, you see that there is potential for Pham to keep this up. Pham is an aggressive hitter with average to above average power, that will lead to lots of doubles and a decent amount of home runs. I realize that Pham is nowhere near the talent level of a Harper or Bryant. Pham however, can continue to provide the type of splash he provided last season as he showed going into the playoffs.
Pham doesn’t strike out near as much as those guys do and has a pretty good knack for working a walk at times, much better than fellow teammate Randal Grichuk. I think Grichuk and Pham will be a good combo in center for 2016, with Piscotty filling in time in LF/RF and 1B.
This team is pretty well rounded and ready for Jason Heyward to return to become a formidable threat in the NL Central again. Even if Heyward doesn’t return Pham is a valuable option as a right field starter with his 16.7 UZR/150 in center translating well over to right field.