Don't forget how good Tommy Edman was defensively in center field for Cardinals

Michael Siani might be the best defensive center fielder in baseball, but Tommy Edman isn't far behind!
New York Mets v St. Louis Cardinals
New York Mets v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages

Flashback 406 days ago to May 30th, 2023. The St. Louis Cardinals were down Dylan Carlson, Tyler O'Neill, and Lars Nootbaar. The outfielders on their roster were Alec Burleson, Juan Yepez, Oscar Mercado, and Brendan Donovan. If the Cardinals were going to survive a prolonged stretch without their top three center field options, they had to find someone else who could play some center field.

Out trots Tommy Edman and most Cardinals fans couldn't help but scratch their head.

We all knew how versatile Edman was already, but asking him to be a competent center fielder was questionable. He had a quick twitch that has helped him win a Gold Glove at second base and a really nice shortstop as well. But was he really going to translate that to the leader of the outfield? And how would his arm play at one of the most important positions on the field?

But then, Edman was good. Like, actually good.

In just 310.2 innings last year, Edman put up 5 OAA and 2 DRS. If you averaged those numbers out over 920 innings, the 15th most played in center field by a player in 2023, Edman would have had 14 OAA and 6 DRS, which would have ranked 2nd and 7th among all center fielders last year.

Now, it's not exactly fair to say he would've pulled that off over the course of an entire season, but it is fair to say that Edman is an awesome center fielder.

He's no Michael Siani defensively, but don't forget how good Tommy Edman is

It cannot be understated how good Michael Siani's defense has been in center field this year. Time and time again he proves why he may be the best defensive center fielder in baseball, and I don't see anyone taking that starting job away from Siani any time soon.

So, what does that mean for Edman upon his return? The switch-hitter began his rehab stint on Tuesday night in Springfield and is already getting back to his clutch-hitting ways.

There is a clear role for Edman when the Cardinals face left-handed pitching. Siani can get an off-day against southpaws due to his 31 wRC+ against them on the season, and the Cardinals can plug in Edman, who for his career is a 117 wRC+ hitter against lefties with an .803 OPS to show for it. Edman has been below league-average against righties in his career, so he may not have a clear starting spot in those situations.

For as much talk as the Cardinals had this offseason about wanting Edman to stay in center field and not bounce around, Siani's emergence means that Edman will once again need to be flexible each day he arrives at the ballpark. If he wants to be in the lineup consistently, he'll find himself filling in at shortstop, second base, the outfield, and maybe even third base as he helps spells other Cardinal regulars.

I know there are at least some people who think Edman could be moved at this deadline, and I wouldn't rule it out considering the Harrison Bader trade in 2022. But with the Cardinals' struggles against left-handed pitching this year, Edman seems like an in-house solution for that, and they could explore his value on the market this offseason.

I do think there's a reason John Mozeliak has been so bullish on getting Edman back. Together, him and Siani could make for a really nice platoon in center field, and Edman's ability to plug and play everywhere else is a major advantage for St. Louis. Just remember while you're watching Michael Siani web gem compilations that Edman is pretty darn good out there himself.