There has been a lot of speculation regarding the big bat the St. Louis Cardinals are going to add this off-season. Big names, especially from the Marlins like Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna have popped up. Why not Christian Yelich?
The St. Louis Cardinals are in need of a financially responsible middle-of-the-order hitter. Many think the answer comes in a home run hitting form like Giancarlo Stanton. However, is that really what this offense is missing?
Last season, the St. Louis Cardinals finished 12th in the league with a .760 OPS, on-base percentage and slugging percentage combined. Last season, we finished 8th in OBP and 17th in SLG. Compiling together the 13th most runs in the league.
According to my Predator Run Index, I have the Cardinals as the 10th best run producing team in baseball, obviously higher than where we finished. How could that be? Timely hitting.
What I am getting at is that with our OBP being top-10 in the league, we do not need someone who hits home runs or becomes that big time home run hitter, we need a timely hitter to drive in runs. I think that it has to be someone who does drive the ball, but not necessarily in a home run manner that someone like Stanton brings.
Last season, after doing a lot of reflecting, how many times can we count players like Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk striking out with men in scoring position? Not only that, but often these would just fail to have a productive out?
I think we need someone like Christian Yelich to be a solid 2-6 hitter in the lineup. A guy who can not just fill a role, but be an impact bat in the middle of the lineup who can drive in runs and be productive with outs.
Here are a few reasons why he is one of my top trade candidates for the St. Louis Cardinals:
First, he is 25 years old and has already had two high quality seasons entering his prime years. That is almost enough said right there. Age is incredibly important when it comes to making a trade.
Second, arguably more important than the first, he has a very club-friendly contract that is the similar to the approach our front office makes on our young players. If we grabbed him this off-season, he would be under contract for his age 26-29 seasons and a club option for his age 30 season; so five years.
Also, a Yelich deal would not be too incredibly costly averaging $11.65 million per year, back-end heavy.
I have calculated that his value at the plate is worth $9 million dollars each season by my Predator Player Value Index. According to my Predator Run Index in 2016, he posted an All-Star caliber 12.69 PRI, ranking 29th in the Major Leagues. In 2017, he posted an almost All-Star caliber 6.43 PRI, best for 78th in the Major Leagues.
Third, he drives the baseball. His average exit velocity this past season was 90.71 MPH, well above the Major League average of 87.32 MPH. The past four seasons he has reached at least 30 doubles and the past two seasons he has 18-plus home runs. Not incredible in that category, but none the less effective.
Fourth, he adds an element to the game we loved in Tommy Pham, speed. This is not only beneficial for hitting, but also the outfield. Last season he posted a +1.3 runs saved in center field. Not saying we play him there, but a speedy outfielder anywhere is great.
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Offensively his speed showed as well, swiping 16 bases. In his career, he is averaging over 17 swipes per season if he was to play 162 games. Speed also scores runs, and for how horrendous our base-running was last season, it would be nice to see someone score from first on a gap shot like Tommy Pham.
Overall, I think Christian Yelich is the player on the Miami Marlins we need to go after, not the other players. We do not need the massive contract of the injury-prone Giancarlo Stanton. We need more stability in the middle of the order, and I believe Christian Yelich opens the door for us to do a lot of great things.
Adding an outfielder makes players like Tyler O’Neil, Randal Grichuk, and Stephen Piscotty expendable to add pitching depth, which is an even bigger need than our hitting, especially our bullpen.
I think Christian Yelich is a reasonable investment. I would imagine it may take a decent amount to get a player like him, but it would be worth it in the long-term.
Maybe Tommy Pham does not have a good season next year? Maybe Dexter Fowler would be willing to move to right field for a star like Yelich, who would clearly be better? Ultimately, it allows financial flexibility and a middle the order hitter we desperately need, allowing us more room to sign some pitching depth.