St. Louis Cardinals: Trying to Diagnose Kolten Wong
Kolten Wong has struggled with inconsistency since debuting for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013, and 2016 was no different. Will he right the ship in 2017?
The St. Louis Cardinals GM John Mozeliak has insisted over the years that he believes Kolten Wong will become a cornerstone of contending teams. He signed Wong to a five year, $25.5M extension in March of 2016.
This extension was supposed to signal that primary duties manning second base were his to lose. The move appeared to give Kolten Wong the confidence he needed, and he went on to hit .303 in spring training and earned the opening day start at 2B.
Then the wheels immediately fell off. Wong went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts, and never really recovered. He would hit only .226 in April, .234 in May, and .227 in June. He was demoted on June 6th to AAA Memphis, where the team decided he would begin working as a center fielder, a position where he gained some experience in while in college.
The move seemed to fix something, as Wong would slash .429/.529/.929 in seven games before being called back up to the major league club on June 18. He would go on to hit .257/.350/.257 for the rest of the month.
So what gives? Why haven’t Kolten Wong’s abilities transferred to the MLB level?
While there was slight improvement in his average and OBP over the last two weeks of June, the power he showed while in Memphis was completely gone: Wong didn’t manage one XBH in this period.
July, however, did seem to indicate progress. Wong would hit .288/.373/.441 in this month and looked very much like the hitter the St. Louis Cardinals expect him to be. He earned semi-regular playing time with sixty-seven plate appearances over twenty-four games.
Of course, he immediately fell apart in August to the tune of a .220 average, and would hit only .226/.318/.430 in 110 PAs from August 1st through the end of the year. If there is one positive from this, it would be his slugging percentage remained relatively strong, resulting in a .204 ISO over this time.
Kolten Wong’s overall slash line for 2016 was .240/.327/.355, a far cry from the hitter the St. Louis Cardinals were hoping they extended at the beginning of the season.