No. 2 – Randal Grichuk – Outfielder
The St. Louis Cardinals signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to take over the role of everyday center fielder. Part of this decision was made because management didn’t believe that Randal Grichuk was a full-time center fielder and that he was better suited in a corner outfield spot. The other part of this decision was the fact that the Cardinals wanted more consistency.
Grichuk has a few reasons to feel a lot of pressure going into the 2017 season. Firstly, that left field corner he will patrol was home to one of the best Cardinals players in recent history: Matt Holliday. Those shoes he will have to fill out there and at the plate are huge and fans will surely have lofty expectations. Given Grichuk’s defensive ability and his power, he should be able to ease the pain of saying goodbye to Holliday.
Secondly, Grichuk kind of has something to prove to management. There were numerous comments this offseason from John Mozeliak and Mike Matheny about becoming more athletic and improving defensively in the outfield. Grichuk was no slouch and after the signing of Fowler he made his point clear by stating, “It will be good having a couple of center fielders playing in the same outfield.”
Now, Grichuk went on to say that if the Cardinals want him in left field that he will do his very best to play left field but the friendly, competitive nature in Grichuk came out a bit in that quote and it shows that he wants to prove to the Cardinals and to the fans that he is more than capable of playing center.
Regardless, before Grichuk worries about which position in the outfield he is playing he needs to worry about two things: his health and his consistency. Grichuk just had knee surgery this offseason and has had various injuries in the past (although nothing major). He also went from being a .276/.329/.548 hitter in 2015 to one that batted .240/.289/.480 in 2016. Grichuk also saw some time in the minors in 2016 due to his inconsistency at the plate.
While Grichuk has all the tools to be a star, he hasn’t put it all together in the same season. His move to left field may take some responsibility off his hands but the pressure to perform is still there. He needs to show that he can play a full season and do so without any major hiccups. However, if he does that, then we may have a new All-Star left fielder to cheer for.