St. Louis Cardinals: The good outweighs the bad, right?
The St. Louis Cardinals intended to improve the team’s defense in the off-season but made few changes and are now facing error-filled games accounting for and contributing to losses.
The St. Louis Cardinals are typically a strong defensive team. In fact, teams of the past have been so good that their individual players have earned gold gloves in droves. These statements cannot be made for the 2017 team.
The 2017 season is young, admittedly, but the errors that were witnessed in 2016 seem to continue in 2017 despite a focus on improving defense during the off-season. The addition of Dexter Fowler was to shore-up the outfield defense and, while this seems to have had success, the infield continues to baffle.
I am confused. I am writing this post, in all honesty, in hopes that you- our loyal readers- will offer some support. Here’s the confusion: I just can’t reconcile the good of a said player outweighing the bad. Let me dig into this to show you my confusion.
Let’s start with Aledmys Diaz. Look, I like the dude and think he is a great player but there are disturbing numbers. In 2016, while at short stop, Aledmys committed sixteen errors. SIXTEEN! He appeared at short stop in 106 games. These errors gave him a fielding percentage of .961.
Sixteen errors landed Diaz in the top-ten short stops in error counts. The greatest committed errors in 2016 at short stop went to Marcus Semien and Ketel Marte with twenty-one errors. Semien played short in 159 games and Marte played short in 119 games. Still, Diaz landing in the top-ten in error counts is not a good thing for the St. Louis Cardinals.
To the good then… In 2016, Diaz was a positive force at the plate. In 404 at-bats, Diaz slashed .300/.369/.510. He smashed twenty-eight doubles, three triples, seventeen home runs, and accounted for sixty-five RBIs.
My question is this: did his 2016 offensive numbers outweigh his -8.4 UZR? By the way, the -8.4 UZR lands Diaz again in the top-ten short stops when ranking UZR from worst-to-best. Let’s come back to this.
Jumping ahead to 2017, Diaz has appeared at short stop in thirty-two games. In these, he has already committed three errors on the young season and has a fielding percentage of .975. His three errors rank him twentieth when ranking short stops from worst-to-best in error counts for 2017.
The worst error-offender in 2017 to date? Elvis Andrus. Yes, I was surprised too. In thirty-nine games, Andrus has committed seven errors on the young year. He isn’t alone though and is joined by Tim Anderson of the White Sox and Dansby Swanson of the Braves.
Now to Diaz’s positives on 2017: in 145 at-bats, Diaz is slashing .262/.280/.407 with six doubles, five home runs, and accounting for fourteen RBIs. So while his average is somewhat slumping, would you consider removing the fourteen RBIs from the lineup because of his flawed fielding?
Is it even safe to say that he has flawed fielding when he is generally very good and puts up highlight reel material?
Kolten Wong, having received an extension recently to secure the infield defense, has seen a rough season as well. Looking back, Wong committed eight errors himself at second base in 2016. Last season he played in eighty-eight games. In 2015, hold your breath, Wong committed seventeen errors in 147 games.
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His eight 2016 errors puts him one step out of the top ten most error committed list for second basemen. To add insult to injury, Wong committed his eight errors in just eighty-eight games when the others on the list having committed eight did so in game counts greater than 100. The worst offender in 2016 was Rougned Odor.
Surely Odor illustrates the redeeming factor of offense, right? In 2016 Odor posted a slash of .271/.296/.502. In comparison, Wong posted a 2016 slash of .240/.327/.355. Would you say that the offense outweighed their errors?
Let’s look at 2017. Ready? Through only thirty-two games at second base, Wong has committed seven errors on this young year. SEVEN?!
How about last year’s worst, Odor? He has committed three errors through forty games.
Offensively, Wong is slashing .259/.351/.405 with ten doubles, two triples, one home run, and accounting for thirteen RBI. Odor is slashing .200/.257/.368 with six doubles, one triple, six home runs, and accounting for seventeen RBI. Would you take either of these bats out of the lineup?
And how about the worst second baseman offender in 2017? Yeah, you guessed it: Kolten Wong.
I thought about writing about Brett Cecil but that’s a whole other item and issue in itself. Let’s put that off for another time. But can’t we also ask the same question; will his good outweigh his bad?
So, I pose the question to you, readers: can a player’s offense outweigh the negative aspects of the defense?
Here’s my conclusion: I believe that the offense can outweigh the defense so long as the team’s starting pitching can minimize the damage. The same would stand true for the pen and therein lies the rub for the St. Louis Cardinals.
The 2017 St. Louis Cardinals have lost too many close games thanks to the error-ridden infield and the inability of the pen to reverse or mitigate these errors. And here, then, we have a true chicken-or-egg scenario. In other words, would the pen be better without errors behind them or would the infield be better without a weakened pen?
Next: Time to cut ties with Peralta
See the dilemmas? What do you think? Let me know on Twitter and thanks for reading!