St. Louis Cardinals: Left field, offensive or offensive?
2015 ended with the St. Louis Cardinals posting a 100-win season despite an offensive offense. But was it all lackluster? Cardinal left fielders combined to post above-average offensive numbers last year. How about 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.
As a reminder, this article series will examine the 2015 offensive statistics in comparison to the MLB average one position at a time. Also, 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.
Next up: left field.
The following was the MLB overall offensive statistics:
Now let’s look at the MLB average for left field:
Now let’s look at the Cardinals 2015 team average for players appearing at left field:
Okay, so let’s dig into this a little… What jumps out to you? To me, I immediately noticed that in 2015 the Cardinals left fielders provided a huge impact for any positive offensive results witnessed by fans and by the team. And, by the way, these sentences were- yes- the exact same sentences I published in my third base article.
What is different in left field than in the third base article is the fact that the positive stats for the Cardinals in left field came from greater than one player. In fact, 2015 left field was patrolled by Randal Grichuk, Tommy Pham, Stephen Piscotty, and Matt Holliday.
Let’s look at each individually:
Matt Holliday- 4 home runs, 35 RBI, 2 stolen bases, 14.1% walk, 17.7% strikeout, 0.131 ISO, 0.335 BABIP, .275/.394/.410, 0.9 WAR
Stephen Piscotty- 7 home runs, 39 RBI, 2 stolen bases, 7.8% walk, 21.9% strikeout, 0.189 ISO, 0.372 BABIP, .305/.359/.494, 1.1 WAR
Tommy Pham- 5 home runs, 18 RBI, 2 stolen bases, 11.0% walk, 23.7% strikeout, 0.209 ISO, 0.333 BABIP, .268/.347/.477, 1.5 WAR
Randal Grichuk- 17 home runs, 47 RBI, 4 stolen bases, 6.3% walk, 31.4% strikeout, 0.272 ISO, 0.365 BABIP, .276/.329/.548, 3.1 WAR
Admittedly, these player also account for the increase in production at other outfield spots which we will see in the coming articles. Nevertheless, these players illustrate that the 2015 left fielders certainly pushed the offensive needle in the right direction.
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One more thing to note before moving on to projections: seeing the above statistics, do any questions remain as to the Cardinals’ ability to walk away from Jason Heyward in 2016?
Taking a minute to compare the aggregates, the 2015 left fielders for the Cardinals accounted for an increase over the MLB average of 3.3 home runs, 21.9 additional RBI, 1.8 additional percentage points in relation to walk percent, a better ISO, better BABIP, better batting average, better OBP, better SLG, and far-better WAR. In short, the left fielders’ offense was far from offensive.
Now let’s turn to projections…
MLB left field Steamer projections:
Now, how about Steamer projections for the 2016 Cardinals:
First, it should be noted that the Cardinal 2016 projections involve the same four players according to Steamer. Now to the comparisons…
According to Steamer, the 2016 Cardinals (Holliday, Pham, Piscotty, and Grichuk) will exceed the MLB average by 4.9 additional home runs, 20.5 additional RBI, a better average, better OBP, better SLG, better OPS, and a better WAR by 0.7 wins. Anyone concerned about left field?
Speaking of concerns, I know that I have already questioned in earlier articles whether Holliday to first made much sense or indicated whether something was really happening there or not. Looking over these statistics, I find myself more intrigued by the idea of finding an alternative location for Holliday on the diamond. Let’s look a little deeper at each of these four player projections and see if you feel similarly.
Matt Holliday- 16 home runs, 65 RBI, 91 SO, 3 SB, .274 AVG, .367 OBP, .440 SLG, .806 OPS, 1.9 WAR
Stephen Piscotty- 12 home runs, 57 RBI, 92 SO, 7 SB, .267 AVG, .327 OBP, .406 SLG, .733 OPS, 1.1 WAR
Tommy Pham- 5 home runs, 25 RBI, 58 SO, 5 SB, .265 AVG, .329 OBP, .404 SLG, .733 OPS, 0.8 WAR
Randal Grichuk- 20 home runs, 69 RBI, 127 SO, 6 SB, .249 AVG, .295 OBP, .445 SLG, .740 OPS, 1.6 WAR
Looking over these projected numbers, it is easy to see that the 2016 Cardinals need to keep Holliday in the offensive lineup, just not so sure he is necessary in left field. This statement- admittedly- is made entirely divorced from an examination of fielding percentages, etc.
Based on the projections, I feel that fans will LOVE the 2016 left field production and that the players projected to appear in left field illustrate the strength of the young guys in the Cardinals outfield. How exciting it might also be to add in the likes of Carlos Peguero (see also my article on Peguero) or Jeremy Hazelbaker (see also my article on Hazelbaker) from Memphis as needed. Perhaps additional playing time for Pham is just what this doctor orders!
Next: St. Louis Cardinals: Is third base the offensive savior?
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!