St. Louis Cardinals Best/Worst Case 2016: Shortstops
By Landon Clapp
Best Case: Diaz has lots of 4-4 days, Cards don’t miss a beat at short, Diaz hands the torch back to Peralta for a World Series run
If I would have written this piece a couple of days ago, I doubt that I would give Diaz near as high of a ceiling as I am about to give him. Likewise, a week from now, the outlook could seem a lot different for Diaz and the shortstop position for the Cardinals.
But, I’m writing this on the heels of a big time Spring Training performance from Diaz. That sounded a little ridiculous when I wrote it, so let me rephrase. Diaz did everything he could have (and then more) in easing the minds of Cardinal fans who are still digesting the Peralta news, whether it was “just a Spring Training game” or not.
Diaz has had such great examples before him that he can follow. He’s watched Minor League teammates Stephen Piscotty and Tommy Pham step in and shine for the Cardinals. Those two played as big a role as anybody in pushing the Cardinals to 100 wins a season ago.
Diaz watched big league mainstays go down last year and he watched his teammates step in and provide huge boosts for the big league club. Now it is his turn. If today’s performance is any indication, I have little doubt that Diaz is the next man to step into impending doom and keep the club afloat.
Of course, though, we are talking best-case fantasy world here! That scenario doesn’t involve Diaz simply keeping the club afloat, it means he does that and then a whole lot more.
In Diaz’s best case, he puts in Piscotty-like numbers from last year while Peralta is gone. Through the April-June months, Diaz hits above .300, gets on base at a .380-.390 clip and hits seven or eight home runs in half a season of baseball.
He gives the Cardinals a huge lift, and he gives Peralta the luxury of really making sure that he is back to 100% before returning.
After that, Peralta steps in fresh and healthy and leads the club in home runs and RBI in the second half of the season. Diaz becomes the clubs second super-utility man (with Jedd Gyorko), and the Cardinals infield depth dwarfs the rest of the National League.
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