St. Louis Cardinals: Tommy Pham named finalist for Hank Aaron Award

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PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 23: Tommy Pham
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 23: Tommy Pham /
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Tommy Pham proved he is a core piece for the St. Louis Cardinals after a stellar 2017 season.

After slashing an impressive .306/.411/.520 with twenty-three home runs, seventy-three RBI, and twenty-five stolen bases, the St. Louis Cardinals’ outfielder has been recognized as one of the top offensive players in the league after being named a finalist for the Hank Aaron Award.

The Hank Aaron Award recognizes the best offensive talent from each league, voted on by a host of permanent Cooperstown residents headed by Hank Aaron himself. One player from each team is nominated as a finalist for the award.

Tommy Pham has been one of the brightest spots in a Cardinals’ season full of adversity and disappointment. He showed he can be a piece the St. Louis Cardinals can build from for two or three years moving forward. He showed the ability to hit to all fields, a decent amount of pop and solid sense on the base paths. Despite picking up a good number of stolen bases, he managed twenty-two doubles.

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One of the biggest improvements for Pham was his vision at the plate. In 2016, he recorded a heinous 38.8% K rate, and sometimes seemed like he wasn’t able to see some pitches. This year, he was able to rectify the problem and lower his K rate to an acceptable 22.1%. While the rate is still high, the leap Pham made did wonders for his game, and shows that he still has room to improve.

While Pham almost certainly won’t win over an MVP candidate like Paul Goldschmidt, an unexpected source like Pham emerged as an offensive star for the team provides an optimistic outlook for the short term future.

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The outfielder situation for the St. Louis Cardinals is one of the few things as unstable as the bullpen. Pham’s emergence as a legitimate offensive piece gives the team some clarity heading into the offseason.

With the futures of Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk up in the air, and Dexter Fowler falling out of the favor of many Cardinal fans, having at least one stable piece in the outfield will make the front office’s job much easier.

Pham is not eligible for arbitration until 2019, so the Cardinals have complete control over Pham as a low-cost asset for the near future. This will make him an easy piece to keep, alleviating some pressure from Mozeliak and forcing him to retool at one less position. With the questions surrounding the way this Cardinal roster is built, any kind of clarity will be crucial to repairing the team as quickly as possible.

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Pham has been one of the most intriguing assets for the Cardinals this season, and it has been a pleasant surprise watching him develop. If he can continue this level of play for the next couple of years, he’ll give the Cardinals a decent foundation for a short-term rebuild.

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