Brendan Donovan warrants Rookie of the Year votes
Brendan Donovan has had an excellent season for the St. Louis Cardinals and should receive some down-ballot votes for Rookie of the Year.
As St. Louis Cardinals fans, we’ve all seen it, and we’ve all gloated about it: an opposing fan muttering disbelievingly at how the Cardinals can once again find production from a seemingly anonymous rookie. Brendan Donovan is the latest Cardinal to brandish the devil horns and work his magic, and while he won’t be the National League Rookie of the Year, he should receive some votes for third or fourth place.
Donovan has been impressive since his debut at the beginning of the season. He is sixth in the National League in on-base percentage and leads all rookies in the stat. He’s hitting .280 and can play nearly any position on the field. His plate discipline is outstanding; he usually puts up competitive plate appearances, and his keen eye allows him to draw a multitude of walks. He tends to get hit by pitches fairly often as well, as he currently ranks ninth in the National League with 13 of them.
Donovan figures to fit into the Cardinals’ long-term plans as a player who appears in the lineup nearly every day. Manager Oliver Marmol has been putting Donovan in the leadoff spot lately, and he’s fit the role well, hitting .300 in his past six games, in all of which he batted first.
It’s questionable how valuable Donovan will be in future seasons given the ban of the shift and his propensity to hit the ball to the opposite field, which will no longer be an attribute teams seek. His lack of power will also be a knock against him in an era where contact hitters will likely become endangered.
A fan can only hope that Donovan will adapt to the change and continue his productive hitting. We’ve seen promising players fall off hard before; Paul DeJong had a very good rookie season, but he hasn’t come close to those numbers since.
If the Cardinals cut ties with DeJong and don’t pursue a free-agent shortstop, Donovan and Tommy Edman could be the team’s middle infield tandem. However, Nolan Gorman will certainly get more time at second base next year, which will allow Donovan to play elsewhere, serving as a valuable supersub.
While Donovan’s future production is anyone’s guess, his current contributions are hard to overstate. The rookie has played a large role in getting the Cardinals where they are now, and he should continue to play well in the postseason. He deserves some recognition for his efforts.