Cardinals: Why Tommy Edman’s hot start to 2022 is so impressive
By Josh Jacobs
Going into Spring Training in 2022, one player facing a ton of criticism from Cardinals fans and have stiff competition for his starting role was Tommy Edman. After breaking onto the scene in 2019, Edman’s offensive numbers came back down to earth a bit, but did make a name for himself by winning his first career Gold Glove at second base.
Spring Training only amplified the issue as he went 2-24 at the plate and looked lost, causing many to wonder if he would be on a short leash to start the year. Although Nolan Gorman did little to prove why he should take over at second base, his tantalizing potential was reason enough for Edman to press at the plate and need to get off to a hot start.
And get off to a hot start in 2022 is just what Tommy Edman has done.
In the club’s first 8 games, Edman has slashed .333/.400/.704 with 3 home runs, 1 double, 4 RBIs and 4 runs scored while reaching base in every single game. Edman’s wRC+ of 241 ranks 6th in all of baseball (and teammate Nolan Arenado is 3rd at 319). While it goes without saying that his numbers will come back down to earth, it is a great sign that he has bounced back from the criticism this offseason and rough Spring Training.
In 2021, Edman batted .262/.308/.387 with 11 home runs, 41 doubles, 56 RBIs, 91 runs scored, and 30 stolen bases as the primary lead off hitter for the club. Manager Oli Marmol has mostly deployed Edman in the 9th spot as the team’s “second lead off hitter” this season, but has already shown creativity in lineup construction, bumping Edman up to the 6th spot for Sunday’s contest against the Brewers. The biggest critique toward Edman over the last few months has been having low on base skills (namely the .308 OBP) for someone who lacks much power. If Edman can see his OBP and SLG return to his 2019 levels (.350 and .500 respectively), he will no doubt remain an every day player this year.
The biggest thing to watch with Edman to determine his continued success will be his splits against right and left handed pitching. Our own J.T. Buchheit made a compelling case for Edman to end his switching hitting approach to bat solely right handed moving forward in this article. So far this season, Edman has proven to be terrific from both sides, but is still noticeably better batting right handed as he is slashing .667/.667/1.333 against left-handed pitching. But with this being an extremely small sample size, there is still plenty of season to see this play out.
With Nolan Gorman raking in AAA to start off the year, the pressure will remain on Edman to continue to compete at a high level to maintain his everyday role. Even when Gorman makes his debut with the club, with the way Tommy is playing, it is likely Gorman will have to fight for at bats at the DH position or spelling guys when they need a rest if he can remain a productive hitter. Depending on how Paul DeJong and Edmundo Sosa fair, the Cardinals could even deploy Edman at shortstop to fit Gorman’s bat in the lineup at second base.
Again, it is important to point out how small of a sample size this is, but at the very least, it is encouraging to see a player like Tommy Edman rise to the occasion when pressure was placed upon him. When criticism and poor performance mounts on a player, they can easily fold and fall out of the ranks. In Edman’s case so far in 2022, pressure has produced a diamond.