St. Louis Cardinals: A First Base Battle

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Oct 12, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams hits a solo home run against the San Francisco Giants during the 8th inning in game two of the 2014 NLCS playoff baseball game at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 12, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams hits a solo home run against the San Francisco Giants during the 8th inning in game two of the 2014 NLCS playoff baseball game at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

Matt Adams — ZiPS Projection: .272/.308/.433

It’s easy to look at Matt Adams and be excited. It’s equally easy to look at Matt Adams and be concerned. In 2013 the lefty burst onto the scene with a strong .284/.335/.503 campaign across about 100 games filling in for Allen Craig. It looked as if we had found yet another diamond in the rough and our first baseman of the future. With 17 home runs down the stretch, he certainly seemed to be the kind of power threat the St. Louis Cardinals needed.

2014 was concerning, but not disastrous as Adams posted a .288/.321/.457 line, but managed only 15 home runs in nearly a full season. Compared to preseason expectations (which frequently drifted into 30 or 40 home runs for the season), it was a disappointment. It’s true that he was above average, but his 116 wRC+ was a pretty severe drop off from the 135 mark of 2013.

Then came last year. Sometime between 2014 and 2015, Matt Adams forgot how to hit entirely. Before winding up on the DL, he managed a pretty terrible .240/.280/.377 line giving him a wRC+ of just 78. That was not good, and now a lot of people are — very justifiably — down on Adams.

I must admit that I wouldn’t be excited to see Matt Adams as our starting first baseman to open the season, but I do think I would be hopeful. If you imagine 2014 as a sophomore slump, and 2015 as an injury-hampered fluke where poor health impaired his abilities, it doesn’t seem like we’re all that far away from his 2013 performance (try squinting if you can’t see it). Is it likely that he bounces back with 25 home runs and a .280/.330/.500 line in 2016? Probably not. But would I be stunned if he managed that? Not entirely.

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