St. Louis Cardinals: Stephen Piscotty will be an offensive staple

joshb116
Oct 9, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Stephen Piscotty (55) reacts after scoring a run against the Chicago Cubs in the first inning in game one of the NLDS at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 9, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Stephen Piscotty (55) reacts after scoring a run against the Chicago Cubs in the first inning in game one of the NLDS at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports /
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St. Louis Cardinals’ outfielder Stephen Piscotty had an impressive rookie season. What will he accomplish in 2016?

Stephen Piscotty is cool, calm and collected. That’s what I remember thinking watching the St. Louis Cardinals’ outfielder each time he stepped to the plate in 2015.

Piscotty cranked it up not long after his promotion to St. Louis in July, recording his first multi-hit game in just his third start. He’d go on to have 17 more multi-hit games for the Redbirds. Piscotty finished the season with a .306 average, 15 doubles, 7 homers, 4 triples and 39 RBI in just 233 at bats. He also recorded a solid .359 OBP, .494 SLG and .853 OPS.

The Cardinals top-hitting prospect never wavered at the plate last year, and if he felt overmatched he sure never showed it. Piscotty’s poise is what impressed me the most, and his demeanor at the plate was like that of a seasoned veteran.

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Remember that gut-wrenching collision Piscotty had with Peter Bourjos in Pittsburgh? How could you forget it. Cardinals backup first baseman Mark Reynolds told MLB.com reporter Jennifer Langosch that the collision was “up there with the scariest things I’ve ever witnessed.” None of us could have expected Piscotty to return the rest of the season, much less the next week.

But Piscotty didn’t just return after the collision — he got better. He provided just about all of the Cardinals’ offense in the NLDS against the Cubs recording 3 homers, 6 RBI and a .375 batting average — a remarkable feat given the head injury he sustained.

Piscotty has guts, and he’s got the bat that the Cardinals need.

So, what can we expect from the 25-year old next season?

Baseball-Reference.com projections look like this:

YearTmAgePAABRH2B3BHRRBISBBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
2016Proj.25328297388517494432668.286.346.461.807

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table

Those projections aren’t bad, but it is a bit conservative given that they only have Piscotty projected for 297 at bats. Piscotty will go into the season as the Cardinals everyday right fielder, so he should easily eclipse 500 at bats in 2016. Steven McNeil believes that with this it isn’t crazy to think Piscotty could wind up being worth 2-3 fWAR

FanGraphs 2016 outlook for Piscotty is a little more generous. They have the outfielder projected for a .288 BA, .358 OBP, .463 SLG, .821 OPS, 17 HR, 34 doubles and 83 RBI in 531 at bats.

I’ll take it a step further and say that Piscotty reaches 20 homers in 2016 joining the likes of Matt Carpenter and Randal Grichuk as the only Cardinals to hit 20 or more next season.

When the Cardinals asked Piscotty to fine-tune his swing for more power, he answered the call with 11 long balls in Triple-A Memphis prior to his call-up. Between Triple-A and the Majors, Piscotty belted 18 home runs. Throw in his three long balls in the postseason, and Piscotty popped off 21 total home runs last year.

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I believe he can match or even exceed that mark with a full season of at bats in 2016. I also believe Piscotty will reach 90 RBI next season. Here’s why.

Piscotty hit second in the lineup in 30 of his 61 starts starts last season. It’s safe to say that is where he will be slotted come opening day. With Carpenter leading off and Grichuk or Matt Holliday providing protection in the three-hole, Piscotty should get plenty of good pitches to see.

Not to mention, Piscotty proved last year to be a great situational hitter.

With runners in scoring position, Piscotty hit .393 with a .541 SLG and a .984 OPS. While he didn’t have any homers with RISP, he did drive in 29 runs in just 61 at bats. With two outs and RISP, Piscotty had a .361 BA, an .855 OPS and 17 RBI in 36 at bats. The home runs in those situations will come. Though these are small sample sizes, Piscotty has proven early on that if given the chance he can be an RBI machine.

If he cements himself in that two-spot, he should have a good opportunity to drive in runs. Piscotty did strike out 21.9 percent of the time last season. But that is part of the growing pains for a rookie. Steamer has him projected for a 16.8 strikeout percentage, which would be much more tolerable.

If there’s cause for concern, it’s in Piscotty’s BABIP. He had an other-worldly .372 BABIP in 2015 leading to his .305 batting average. He likely won’t be as fortunate in 2016. I’d look for his batting average to be around .270 or .280 for the season — still nothing to write off.

Next: The Impact of a Healthy Matt Holliday

Piscotty should continue to impress in his first full season with the Cardinals. St. Louis needs a boost to its offense to keep pace in the National League Central division. Piscotty kept calm and kept hitting last year. I expect more of the same in 2016.

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