2015 ended with the St. Louis Cardinals posting a 100-win season despite a lackluster offense. Cardinal first basemen combined to post sub-par offensive numbers last year. Should fans worry about the group in 2016?
I am very excited to spend the following articles examining the St. Louis Cardinals position by position in comparison fashion in an effort to find trends. What is at stake is whether or not the 2015 Cardinals were a reality, an anomaly, on par with everyone else, better than everyone else, or worse than everyone else.
In order to accomplish this, the following series will examine the 2015 offensive statistics in comparison to the MLB average one position at a time. In addition, each post will examine the individual players who occupied these positions in 2015 against the average. Finally, each post will examine the aggregate statistics of each position as projected for 2016 to look for increases or decreases in light of concern or celebration.
First up: first base.
The following was the MLB overall offensive statistics:
Now let’s look at the MLB average for first base:
Now let’s look at the Cardinals 2015 team average for players appearing at first base:
Okay, so let’s dig into this a little… What jumps out to you? To me, I immediately noticed that in 2015 the Cardinals first basemen hit below average and below slugging. This said, even in spite of the low numbers on these two stats, the Cards were able to amass a higher BABIP. Another item that jumps out is the fact that the Cardinals first basemen struck out at a higher rate than the league average at first base.
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What is even more shocking is the fact that the Cardinals first basemen in 2015 had some shockingly bad statistics when compared against the aggregate stats for the entire MLB. Just look at the K%: a gigantic 18.5 percentage point increase witnessed by the Cardinals! Sad too that the Cardinals fell a complete 21.4 runs fewer in RBI for first basemen than the rest of the MLB at first (89 to 110.4).
Okay, so we know that the likes of Matt Adams, Brandon Moss, Xavier Scruggs, Mark Reynolds, and Dan Johnson (yes, Dan Johnson, and- admittedly- Piscotty is not included in the stats above) weren’t able to keep up with MLB trends. Noting this, should fans expect this trend to continue? Let’s turn to projections…
MLB first base Steamer projections:
Now, how about Steamer projections for the 2016 Cardinals:
Let’s break it down… If all goes as projected, the Cardinals (Adams and Moss) are projected to hit 2.5 additional home runs than the MLB average, come in with a better (albeit almost equal) batting average, better SLG, and better OPS.
It is important to note that many of these stats are so close that statistically they are basically equal (with WAR hitting exactly equal). All that aside, the climb in statistics could well be attributed to 2016 being a bounce-back season from injury for both Adams and Moss.
Based on the projections, I feel that we should temper our judgement of the Cardinals first base and see what activity our players can create. I also feel that the addition of Piscotty appearing some at first is likely to help too. If our players hit the above projections then all should be well.
I am very excited about this series and hope that you will follow along as I examine each position on the Cardinals when comparing 2015 stats against the stats of the rest of the league as well as looking at each positions projections. Follow me on Twitter and let’s discuss each position as we progress through spring training and beyond!