St. Louis Cardinals: Yairo Munoz should make the team
By Jason Grose
Yairo Munoz, acquired in the trade that sent Stephen Piscotty to Oakland, should make the St. Louis Cardinals.
Yairo Munoz, the 23 year-old utility man from the Dominican Republic, deserves to break camp with the St. Louis Cardinals. This, in my opinion, would push the likable Greg Garcia off the team.
First and foremost, Munoz just keeps hitting. So far this spring he is sporting a .375/.412/.625 triple slash for 1.037 OPS. Greg Garcia is hitting .227, albeit with a .452 OBP. Munoz has the ability to hit for a higher average and with more power. Garcia definitely walks more, evident from his career .372 Major League OBP. They are two very different hitters – one with some pop and low walk rates and one with zero pop and high walk rates. Personally, I want the guy that comes off the bench to pinch hit or to fill in for a day to have some power.
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Last season, split between AA and AAA, Munoz hit .300 with 13 home runs, 68 RBI, and a .794 OPS. Garcia hit .253 with a .697 OPS. Munoz had success at the upper levels, which is a good sign.
Munoz can play second base, third base, and shortstop – all the positions Garcia has played in his MLB career.
In just over 300 innings at second, Munoz has a .976 fielding percentage. In about 600 innings at third base, it’s .932. At short, where he’s spent the bulk of his minor league career (over 2500 innings), he has a career .938 fielding percentage.
At second, third, and short, Garcia has a .969, .970, and .958 fielding percentage, respectively. Although fielding percentages do not necessarily tell the whole tale when it comes to defensive ability, I think it’s safe to say that Garcia is a more polished infield defender at this point.
However, Munoz has also played in the outfield, a spot Garcia has never played in his professional career. Munoz played all three outfield spots last year in the minors, even starting 20 games in center field. As Joe Trezza points out in this article, Tate Matheny, who played against Munoz last season, told his dad that Munoz is a really good center fielder. He may not look the part of a slick fielding outfielder, but he could adequately hold down the fort.
So, not only can Munoz play all the positions across the infield, he can play in the outfield too. On this team, with Harrison Bader and Jose Martinez on the roster, he may not need to play out there. Having the versatility to do it, however, would be a welcome addition.
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I like Greg Garcia. He is a great teammate, a good defender, and gets on base at a pretty high clip. But, Munoz is outplaying Garcia right now, and in my opinion, he brings more to the table. What do you guys think? Does Yairo Munoz deserve a roster spot? Thanks for reading.