There is one player on the St. Louis Cardinals who infuriates me. He makes me angrier than any other player, and he seems to get under my skin every time I watch him play. He is also my favorite player, and one of the most electrifying players on the team.
He sweeps into our lives as a first-rounder from the University of Hawaii (romantic, I know), and then lights up his 300+ games in the minors with a .308/.371/.462 slash line. He continued working his way into our hearts with that beaming smile by performing well in his rookie season, finishing third in rookie of the year voting.
In addition to his early success and rapid climb up internal and external prospect rankings, Kolten also has some of the best nicknames.
As many of you know, I am a Cardinal fan in Cub land. I attend most Cardinals/Cubs games at Wrigley.
Nothing makes a Cubs fan angrier than when Kolten makes an amazing play or goes yard and I turn to them in rapid succession and say, “wow he hit that a Wong way, you guys are going to be in trouble for a Wong time.” Or, my personal favorites, “it feels so right, it can’t be Wong,” and “Wong gone.” Ah, the possibilities are endless.
We look at Wong and we see the flash and flare, and we see all of the tools – speed, defensive playmaking ability and range, power, bat speed, compact swing and approach, and a strong second base arm. Yet, he never quite puts it together for the St. Louis Cardinals.
I went to a game in Milwaukee that basically sums Kolten’s career in a nutshell. He hit a rocket off the left-center field wall for a triple, made a head scratching mistake in the field, made an impossible diving play for an out, and struck out a couple times.
So, Kolten took me on the Wong roller coaster of emotions yet again. I thought, “man, this tiny guy has insane opposite field gap power” and then I saw him hit dribblers to infielders and strike out by trying to go yard.
I saw him make an amazing diving catch over his shoulder in shallow right field, and then I saw him boot a routine grounder. I just cannot understand. The St. Louis Cardinals must share this frustration.
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So, Kolten, what needs to happen here? You have captured the hearts and adoration of Cardinal Nation and fans like me. We are ready to start the foundations of a statue of you in the plaza, but you just aren’t cooperating. We want you to be our version of Rougned Odor, but instead you are more of a Jurickson Profar.
It may be that Kolten and I just need to hash this thing out. Work out our differences in the ring or something. So, Kolten, Cash me Outside! I refuse to stand idly by while you throw away the gifts of an annual all-star and gold glove candidate. You are better than that – literally.
I always see Kolten Wong as one of the few members of the St. Louis Cardinals who has electric, game-changing ability. Kolten is one of those players who can get hot and carry his entire team. Through the arduous trek of the baseball season gauntlet, you need players who can put the tired, injured team on their backs. That is the minimum that I want from Kolten.
Kolten, I hate that you are my favorite St. Louis Cardinal. I hate that you are a little dude from Hawaii who hits bombs. I hate that you make bonehead plays in the field. I hate that you don’t steal more bases. And I hate that you have yet to achieve your potential. But I love to think that you will.
In all seriousness, someone needs to take my favorite St. Louis Cardinal and make him reach his potential. Help him become the star we want and need him to be. Start him like he is the all-star you think he can be (that message is for you, Matheny, ease off the trigger finger on pulling these young guys at the first signs of struggle).