St Louis Cardinals: Why Matt Adams Production Will Rise


Matt Adams will return to being a solid contributor for the St Louis Cardinals in 2016.

Plenty of evidence points towards the first base slot lagging far below other teams and Cardinal expectations in 2015. From that analysis, we naturally draw the conclusion to pick up a player on the free agent market or through a trade to plug the hole. With a maturing Matt Adams having Mark Reynolds as backup the position looked solid. An injury once again played a significant role.

Let’s compare Adams to three players with significant declines due to injuries in 2014 and see how they bounced back in 2015. All of these players would be assets in the Cardinals lineup.

Joey Votto: 2014 62 games, 0.255 AVG and 1.0 WAR. In 2015, 158 games, 0.314 AVG and 7.4 WAR.

Brandon Belt: 2014 61 games, 0.243 AVG and 0.9 WAR. In 2015, 137 games, 0.280 AVG and 4.3 WAR.

Chris Davis: 2014 127 games, 0.196 AVG and 0.8 WAR. In 2015, 160 games, 0.262 AVG and 5.6 WAR.

Matt Adams: 2014 142 games, 0.288 AVG and 2.1 WAR. In 2015, 60 games, 0.240 AVG and 0.2 WAR. 

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A healthy Votto, Belt, and Davis delivered increases in BA of 59, 37, and 66 points respectfully. That’s an average gain of 54 points. Add that to Adams and we get an impressive 0.294 in 2016. The WAR gains impress even more. The trio jumped from a total of 2.7 to 17.3, or an average gain of 4.9. Applied to Adams that number rises to a respectful 5.1.

May 20, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams (32) rounds third base after hitting a 2 run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning at Busch Stadium. Image Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

These numbers measure performance with no emotion or bias. Simply stated, when a player battles through injuries performance naturally suffers. Matt Adams fought through a serious quad tear that required surgery to repair and took him out for four months in 2015. Although we hoped for more, replacements Reynolds and Moss followed their historical stats and we suffered at first base. Let’s not place that blame onto Adams.

The clarity of stats miss one dimension of a players performance. How did Matt handle high pressure situations? On July 7th, the St Louis Cardinals trailed the Pittsburgh Pirates by a ½ game when Adams smashed a ninth inning walk off.  Adams was 2-4 that night and accounted for two of the Cardinals three hits.  On September 4th, 2013, Adams became the only Cardinals’ player to hit two home runs in extra innings against the Cincinnati Reds. Only five other players performed that feat in the history of the league. And Matt Adams’ biggest moment came in the 2014 NLCS when he hit a Clayton Kershaw curveball for a game winning home run. That’s a blast against a lefty plus the winner of the 2015 MVP and Cy Young awards.

Adams is only 27 and should be entering the prime years of production. His weaknesses of a low walk rate and average defense can be improved with coaching and more experience. Another weakness arose when teams started strongly shifting against him. Matt worked on hitting to the opposite field and demonstrated growth early in 2015 while posting a 0.304 average prior to May.

Next: St Louis Cardinals End of Season Draft Recap - Part Three

The St Louis Cardinals do not need to be trading top prospects to attract a first baseman or dropping massive dollars on an aging one. We already have what we need in Matt Adams and have a backup in Stephen Piscotty. Fans should expect to see a new contributing Adams back in 2016.