St. Louis Cardinals: Examining the fit with Jurickson Profar
Last year, Brad Miller made a huge impact on the St. Louis Cardinals from the utility spot. In 2021, could Jurickson Profar fill that role?
It seems that if the St. Louis Cardinals are going to dip their toes into the free agent market this winter, the most likely place is going to be with the spare parts. We all know this, and if you can take a step back, you can see that it isn’t the end of the world.
In a normal offseason, spare parts are cheap. This offseason, that will likely be even more true. So far, the entire market for hitters has been ice cold around the league. Most would speculate that is because half the league doesn’t yet know if they are going to have the benefit of the DH or not.
Whether or not the Cardinals have that added benefit, they are going to need to look at filling the utility infield role left by Brad Miller entering free agency. Looking at it, Brad Miller may be a good fit to fill the Brad Miller role, but if the team does decide to look elsewhere, there are options.
So far, we have broken down Jonathan Villar and told you why Tommy La Stella could have red flags. Another name to add to that list is Jurickson Profar.
Long ago (2013), Profar was the #1 prospect in baseball no matter who you asked. Back in 2013, Baseball America said that there isn’t a “safer bet” than Profar to end up a perennial All-Star. As we all are at times, BA, as well as everyone else, overestimated Profar’s future and the versatile fielder has yet to live up to expectations in the big leagues.
In the seven seasons since his debut with Texas at the age of 19, Profar’s best season saw him hit .254 with an OPS just south of .800. On average, he hits just below .240 with an OPS of around .715. While that isn’t quite a perennial All-Star, that is a fine utility man when mixed with Profar’s versatile glove.
In his career, the only position that Profar hasn’t yet played was catcher and pitcher. Best suited for a corner outfield spot or third base, he could spell Matt Carpenter or Tommy Edman easily. No matter where you look, Profar seems to be below average defensively at second base and average no matter where else he is.
These numbers aren’t gorgeous, but the kind of hitter that Profar is shines through.
Like Villar, Profar is a switch hitter, but he doesn’t have the same base stealing talent. Like La Stella, he’s got pop and excels at not striking out. The biggest difference between La Stella and Profar is that the belief in Profar’s ability to thwart strikeouts isn’t propped up on the legs of the shortened 2020 season.
Profar’s 2020 season was a pretty good representation of the player he has been the past three years. In both 2018 and 2019, Profar hit 20 bombs while playing regularly with Texas and Oakland. He did so while striking out 14% of the time and walking 9%. In 2020, Profar played 56 games with the powerful Padres and hit seven homers, which extrapolates out to 19 in a full season.
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Just like normal, Profar struck out right around 14% of the time but his walks dipped by a percent and a half.
Profar has about even splits in his career against righties and lefties, so he doesn’t need to be platooned. The past three seasons (the three years he’s really blossomed at the plate), he has averaged a 102 wRC+. If the 2020 St. Louis Cardinals taught you anything, it should be that a player who is even at 100 wRC+ shouldn’t be overlooked.
At the end of the day, if you like Tommy La Stella, you should love Jurickson Profar. He offers a more stable offering of La Stella’s 2020 pop and strikeout rate while playing more positions as a switch hitter.
The Cardinals love versatile infielders which is why names like Profar, Villar, and La Stella keep being brought up. Signing Brad Miller again likely got more expensive after his 2020 and with Profar, the number one prospect pedigree is still there. At 27, Profar could end up just being a late bloomer.
The Cardinals need a utility man and if they are looking for someone versatile and young with plenty of potential still in the tank, Profar is one of the better options on the market.