St. Louis Cardinals: Opening Day Redbird Rants Mailbag

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /
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St. Louis Cardinals
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

Brendan D. (B_Dooby): Do you have any thoughts/worries/concerns about sophomore slumps from Aledmys Diaz and Oh for the St. Louis Cardinals?

In short, yes. I’ve wrote before about my concerns with Diaz and changes I’d like to see here. Basically, he doesn’t have the contact profile of a high BABIP hitter. Among the 268 players with 300 or more plate appearances, Diaz had the highest infield hit rate (IFH%) of 15.8%. For a right-handed hitter without blazing speed, I don’t think that’s repeatable.

Additionally, among those same hitters, he had the 41st highest infield fly ball rate (IFFB%), which was in the 85th percentile. Those batted balls are pop-ups that are almost always outs.

Lastly, he had the third lowest line drive rate among those 268 players. Line drives are the type of batted ball most likely to go for hits, and he simply didn’t hit a lot of them.

Put it all together, and you get a low BABIP contact profile. Unless he improves in those areas, I don’t expect him to keep up the .312 BABIP he had last year or the .300 BABIP in his projections. I see something closer to .270.

In that scenario, with his low strikeout rate and high isolated slugging percentage (ISO), he’s probably still about a league average hitter. However, being a league average hitter would fall short of expectations set after his rookie year.

I talked about Oh in one of the following questions, so I won’t say much on him here. It’s worth noting, though, that elite relief pitcher seasons are extremely hard to replicate. I expect Oh will still be a very good bullpen piece for the Cardinals, but I don’t think he dominates like he did last year (even though my xSTATS model believes in him).