St. Louis Cardinals: An evaluation of career statistics and breakout years

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 12: Tommy Pham
ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 12: Tommy Pham /

The St. Louis Cardinals have several players with proven track records and several players with poor or no track records that had breakout years.  Will these players align to form a playoff team?  

There is no question St. Louis Cardinals players Tommy Pham, Jose Martinez, Kolten Wong and Jedd Gyorko all had breakout years last year.  The same can be said about new Cardinal, Marcell Ozuna.  These players, however, greatly outpaced their career numbers last season.  Were their performances a fluke or will they be able to repeat?  Will they be able to improve?

St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals /

By contrast, Adam Wainwright, Luke Gregerson, Dexter Fowler, Yadier Molina, and Matt Carpenter all performed (overall) worse last year than they have in their careers.  Most of the above-listed players are but a few years removed from great seasons.  Were their performances the last couple years a fluke or will they be repeated?  Will they be able to improve?

At the crossroads of these salient questions is an answer, key to the success of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2018.  The team is counting on continued greatness (or even improvement) from Pham, Martinez, Gyorko, Ozuna, Wong and Paul DeJong.  At the same time, the team is counting on bounce-back seasons from Waino, Gregerson, Fowler, Molina, Carpenter, and others.  Is it possible for both to happen? Possibly.

Whether you believe the breakout seasons of the aforementioned players are the real deal, or whether you believe cagey veterans will return to form, please be consistent.  Do not defend Marcell Ozuna’s season and expect great things from him, but discount the breakout seasons of Pham or Martinez.  I know they are different players, but all three had below-average major league careers before last year.

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Do not expect a bounce-back from Gregerson in defense of his signing, but fail to consider that Waino might also return to form.

You either believe the person had an off-year or you believe that he is on the decline, but just say so. Don’t modulate the key and not debate with me and then change position to suit your own opinion.

Is it possible the players that had bad years are simply in their decline and are unlikely to bounce back?  Sure.  But, what would you have said about Wong, Pham, and Martinez before last year?

Those players had middling careers until breaking out.

My only point is that the breakout could be as much an aberration as the bad season or two of the former ace, former closer, or former all-star catcher.

Thus, when you provide an opinion that Pham is here to stay (I agree) or that Martinez and Ozuna figured something out in their breakout years that they can repeat or improve upon, that’s fine.  Point out what it is that makes their great years more than just a statistical anomaly.  And, while you’re at it, go ahead and express why you think Waino, Gregerson, Molina, Carpenter, Fowler, and others will not return to form – actually explain why the bad year or two was not an aberration.  Your credibility will improve greatly if you follow these simple steps.

St. Louis Cardinals
ST. LOUIS, MO – SEPTEMBER 10: Starter Adam Wainwright /

Regardless of what you think about breakout years, bad years, and their relevance as predictive tools of player performance, everyone must agree that the St. Louis Cardinals are at a crossroads.  The core of our roster consists of players who had breakout seasons last year that we are betting on improving or remaining consistent.  Another third of the roster consists of players that the Cardinals are betting will bounce back.  Finally, we expect improvement from many of our young pitchers and position players – that is, Paul Dejong, Luke Weaver, Alex Reyes, and the like.

Assuming these things will come together and form the perfect marriage is the only way the St. Louis Cardinals will re-enter the playoffs in 2018.  The amount of things that have to go right is also an explanation for the amount of angst in the fan base.  Whether you explicitly agree with what I’m saying, you certainly implicitly know that this team does not inspire much confidence – especially in light of the moves of other NL Central juggernauts.

I simply encourage fans to express the basis of an opinion – defend, without slandering, critics that claim Ozuna and Pham had breakout years that are outliers, and defend, without slandering, critics that claim that Waino or Gregerson will return to form.  It will help all of our sanity in this excruciating off-season.

Next: What's with the slow off-season?

What do you think?  Do you have that friend that flip-flops on issues on a whim to defend disparate opinions?  Do they even recognize they’re doing it?  Drop me a note with your story in the comments or on Twitter.