Tommy Edman, a true St. Louis Cardinals throwback
St. Louis Cardinals’ second baseman Tommy Edman is putting together a solid season. His style of play is a throwback to Cardinals teams of the past.
When the St. Louis Cardinals allowed Kolten Wong to depart as a free agent this past offseason, all attention was placed on Tommy Edman to take over the reins at second base. Edman’s positional versatility made him a great super-utility player, but he’s been so successful so far in his career that he has earned the opportunity to play every day.
Edman has served as the team’s leadoff hitter this season and has done a solid job. Although he has some occasional power, that’s not his game. His role is to get on base and set the table for the run producers in the middle of the lineup like Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt. His OBP is .328 so far in 2021, which indicates how successful he’s been at getting on base out of the leadoff spot.
The area that I’d really like to focus on is the stolen bases. The St. Louis Cardinals, as a team, don’t run much. It’s a lost art for the team and one that I would like to see be brought back. The Cardinals, even with Arenado, are not a great offensive team. Stealing bases are a great way to ignite some offense and also bring back some “old school” baseball into prominence.
Tommy Edman leads the Cardinals with 11 stolen bases. That is easily the most on the team. In defense of the Cardinals’ lack of overall running game, the roster as constructed isn’t very well suited for it. With the exception of Edman, there simply are not many players on the roster that profile as stolen base threats. Earlier in his career, Goldschmidt racked up some impressive stolen base totals and while he does have a couple this season, that’s been largely scraped from his offensive profile.
Back to Edman. In some ways, he’s a refreshing relic. He’s a throwback to the “Whiteyball” era of St. Louis Cardinals baseball. He runs well, plays good defense, and has versatility. Simply put, his style of play blended together is unique on the current Cardinals team.
I’m curious to see how many stolen bases Tommy Edman can compile this season. With the calendar just turning to June, he has several more months to keep piling them up. In the grand scheme of things, an individual statistic like that is not that important. But for a fan of the stolen base, like myself, watching Tommy Edman is a breath of fresh air on an offense that has the tendency to get stale at times.
When Kolten Wong left to join the division rival Milwaukee Brewers, there were some questions about whether Edman could serve as a capable replacement. I think their style of play is similar. Overall, Wong is still better defensively and has more power. But Edman is a really similar player and he’s been great so far. Already compiling a 2.1 WAR, he’s well on his way to an all-star caliber season.
In today’s game of baseball, the stolen base is forgotten or overlooked by many teams. The St. Louis Cardinals are one of those teams. Tommy Edman is a welcome relic, a throwback to how Cardinals teams of the past found success. This scrapy, talented player has forged his way into an important role on the team.