St. Louis Cardinals: Can right field survive without Jason Heyward?


2015 ended with the St. Louis Cardinals posting a 100-win season despite a lackluster offense.  But was it all lackluster?

St. Louis Cardinals’ right fielders combined to post some above- and some below-average offensive numbers last year.  How about 2016?

Yesterday, I examined center fielders from 2015 and the rollercoaster that was the statistics associated with these St. Louis Cardinals.  Today, I turn my attention to the 2015 right fielders and their very similar statistical pattern.  As a quick reminder, these articles examine the St. Louis Cardinals position by position in comparison fashion to the rest of the majors.

Next up: right field.

The following was the MLB overall offensive statistics:


Now let’s look at the MLB average for right field:


Now let’s look at the Cardinals 2015 team average for players appearing at right field:


See what I mean-AGAIN- about back-and-forth offense?  As in yesterday’s article on the 2015 center field numbers, the 2015 right fielders statistical show a middle-of-the-line, back-and-forth in comparison to the MLB average.

The bad first.  2015 Cardinal right fielders, in this case Jason Heyward only according to Fangraphs, accounted for 15.5 fewer home runs, 41.4 fewer RBI, and a weaker ISO.  On the flip side, Heyward accounted for 10.6 additional stolen bases, a better walk rate, a lower K-rate, stronger BABIP, better batting average, better OBP, better SLG, and better WAR.

All of these things noted, I take a touch of umbrage to Heyward being the only player that listed for the Cardinals in 2015 appearing in right field.  We all know that Stephen Piscotty appeared in right field 15 games and that Randal Grichuk appeared in right field in 13 games.  If we add these players into the mix, the 2015 Cardinals offensive numbers look like this:


Adding in these Fangraphs-absent players, pulls the right field averages a little to the north.  The bad: 16.2 fewer home runs, 52.7 fewer RBI, far fewer stolen bases, a walk rate that drops below MLB average, a K-rate that almost exactly matches the MLB average, and a WAR that dips below average.  In short, adding Grichuk and Piscotty hurts, not helps, the 2015 Cardinals right field statistics.

With Heyward gone, will the tandem of Piscotty and Grichuk show a better 2016 or a continuation of 2015? To projections…

MLB right field Steamer projections:


Now, how about Steamer projections for the 2016 Cardinals:


Let it be known that the steamer projections for the Cardinals above include the Grichuk, Brandon Moss, and I added Piscotty.  I had to manipulate the steamer data to include Piscotty as he was somehow left off the projections in right field albeit we all know he will almost certainly appear in this post in 2016.

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Immediately upon manipulating the data in this way, I wondered if I should revisit the 2015 data with the inclusion of Moss who had been left off.  Moss appeared in right field a total of 3 games so I decided that this small sample size did not warrant revisiting the 2015 stats.

In looking at the projections for 2016 including Grichuk, Piscotty, and Moss, right field looks solid.  2016 projects to produce a greater number of home runs, RBI, (unfortunately a greater number of strikeouts), a better SLG, a better OPS, and a better WAR.

On the downside, Grichuk, Moss, and Piscotty are projected to produce greater strikeouts, fewer stolen bases, an identical OBP, and a slightly-lesser batting average.  Are these down stats enough to negate the positive ones listed above?

What is at stake in 2016 is something so much more than what is reflected in these statistics.  With Moss returning to a full season after injury and looking up, Cardinal fans may see these projections coming in too low.  Let us all hope.

In addition, Grichuk is reported to have shown up at spring training in great shape.  In addition, Grichuk himself is predicting an outstanding season at the plate.  Admittedly, most players do report positive outcomes so early in the spring out of optimism but let’s all hope the optimism becomes reality.

Next: St. Louis Cardinals: What's at stake for Adam Wainwright?

While we have come to the close of our exploration of position-by-position, we aren’t completely finished.  What is left is a recap and overall projection for the team as a whole.  We will get to this tomorrow so stay tuned.  In addition, spring training games begin in earnest on Thursday and I could not be more excited!

Follow me on Twitter and let’s discuss each position as we progress through spring training and beyond!