St. Louis Cardinals: The dangerous underdog infield

CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 15: Greg Garcia
CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 15: Greg Garcia /

The St. Louis Cardinals, in the wake of the injury to Jedd Gyorko, have carted out an infield of underdogs who now have the chance to sneak their way into baseball discussions.

The St. Louis Cardinals bid a fond farewell to Jedd Gyorko after he suffered an injury on Tuesday night. Gyorko will join the disabled list occupied by many Cardinal players in 2018.

In the wake of his departure, rumors are circulating that the St. Louis Cardinals should dive into the race for Josh Donaldson as the Blue Jays are reported to be thinking of putting Donaldson on waivers as early as Thursday. Whether the Cards go in for this $4.5M rental who could turn into an investment or not, they currently will cart out young guys looking to make a splash.

These guys are no stranger to MLB action but aren’t exactly the names that would strike fear into opposing teams. That said, Matt Carpenter is anchoring the infield and his name is likely to strike fear thanks to his MVP bid season.

Outside of Carpenter, the St. Louis Cardinals infield on Wednesday night is made up of Yairo Munoz at third, Paul DeJong at short, and journeyman Greg Garcia at second. I know that many twitter accounts rolled their collective eyes at Garcia, but I- for one- do not find this lineup that disappointing.

Let’s look at their 2018 seasons.

First, Munoz who is currently slashing .274/.339/.411. He has six home runs and 32 RBI on the 2018 season while playing in only 81 games. He has a .758 OPS in minor league play this season with a .750 OPS in the majors. These aren’t stellar numbers but they aren’t terrible.

In fact, Munoz could play on the Pirates squad and fit in nicely with the numbers of their batters.

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Not bad at all, but not up to the best numbers that he displayed in his surprising Spring Training of 2018 that allowed him to break camp with the big club. His surprising numbers included an .880 OPS, .323 AVG, 3 home runs, 10 RBI, and all in 23 games.

DeJong has watched his sophomore season slump from his 2017 numbers thanks in large part to injury. That said, the one-time 25-home run almost-rookie-of-the-year short stop is now batting a disappointing .231 AVG with 14 home runs. It is easily argued that had he not been injured, fans would be seeing the same numbers that he posted in 2017, but alas…

And on to Garcia… the often-hated Garcia. Garcia’s power numbers are much less that of DeJong and Munoz at only .683 OPS. That said, Garcia almost always puts up a Carpenter-like at-bat and makes the opposing pitcher work. Oh, and there are moments when Garcia comes through for the heroic hit.

Add the example above to a few of his home runs facing the Cubs and you get a special player. Oh, and he is scrappy as h*ll too! I love scrappy players.

So, while the numbers don’t paint a picture of threatening players, don’t ever count out an underdog looking for their opportunity to stay on a team. DeJong has his extension securely in hand but Munoz – who has his rookie rights intact through 2018 – and Garcia – who is arbitration-eligible in 2019 – both have reasons to perform.

These are the reasons why I believe that these underdogs are dangerous and should be respected. Let’s hope this is true.

Next. Crucial wins ahead. dark

If I’m wrong and if the St. Louis Cardinals go for Josh Donaldson, then I hope he has healed enough to make an impact in 2018 and proves his own investment opportunity. Thanks for reading!