As this article was percolating, the Cardinals put Dylan Carlson on the injured list and once again promoted Luken Baker. In his first seven major league games, the 6' 4", 280-lb. Baker has a modest .263/.300/.263 line with two runs scored and zero homers or RBI and just one walk against eight strikeouts. But that's over 20 plate appearances spread across seven games, not nearly enough opportunities to properly reflect his skills.
Looking at Baker's Triple-A numbers tells a far different story. In 84 games with Memphis, the first-base behemoth has blasted 33 home runs, driven in 98 runs, and scored 71 times. A stellar 59:76 BB:K ratio has contributed to a .439 on-base percentage, and his .720 slugging percentage is monstrous, leading to a 1.159 OPS.
Triple-A numbers this year have to be taken with a grain of salt because the overall offensive environment at that level is sky-high. That being said, Baker is leading the International League in homers by five, RBI by a whopping 18, SLG by 83 points, and OPS by 156 points. Simply put, he's destroying baseballs on a regular basis.
So why doesn't it make sense for Baker to be with the Cardinals for the rest of this season? Well, based on what's transpired so far this year, he's not going to play.
Baker first was called up on June 4, starting both that day and the following, going 3-for-8 with four strikeouts. He then rode the pine for five days, started again on June 10, pinch-hit on June 13, and was optioned back to the minors on June 19. Called back up on July 3, Baker started that day and pinch-hit in the next two games before sitting on the bench through the All-Star break before being optioned to Memphis once again on July 16.
Baker didn't start Saturday upon being recalled for the third time, and even with Carlson out, it's unclear where playing time will come from. Paul Goldschmidt plays just about every day at first base, and if he doesn't, he often is the designated hitter. When he was the DH Friday night, Alec Burleson got the start at first base, and with that half-day break, Goldschmidt most likely is locked in at 1B every day for another week or so.
If Baker isn't going to play for the Cardinals, he should go back to playing every day for the Redbirds. It's better for his development, which is a greater benefit to everyone in both the short and long term.
There's a good chance Baker will be the starting first baseman in St. Louis in 2025. Continuing to get him daily work now is the best way to optimize that plan. It's certainly better than having Baker watch from the bench and do nothing for long stretches with the Cardinals the rest of this season.