Should the Cardinals really be moving Tommy Edman into the outfield?

May 29, 2023; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Tommy Edman (19) leaps at
May 29, 2023; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Tommy Edman (19) leaps at / Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Versatility seems to be the sixth tool in today's game, and the St. Louis Cardinals have embraced that this year.

Brendan Donovan and Tommy Edman are prime examples of this, although other Cardinals have found themselves playing multiple positions as well. Donovan's versatility put him on the map last year, led to a utilityman Gold Glove, and has entrenched him in the Cardinals' lineup this season. Although Edman broke into the big leagues in a very similar way, is moving him around the field really the best idea?

Is moving Tommy Edman off of shortstop the best thing for him and the Cardinals?

Let's be clear, if it wasn't for injuries to Lars Nootbaar, Dylan Carlson, and Tyler O'Neill, I doubt Edman would be seeing any time in center field, and perhaps not even in the corner outfield as well. But injuries and a lack of confidence in their other options have thrust Edman into the center field role.

While that may be ideal for the Cardinals when it comes to lineup construction, it may not be the best thing for Edman as a player. While he can play all over the diamond, I'm not really sure that he should. Just look at his 2023 and his career numbers as a batter while playing different positions (stats accurate as of Friday's game against the Pirates).

Tommy Edman




.266/.299/.438 (.736 OPS) 1 HR, 7 RBI (18 G)

.275/.335/.418 (.752 OPS) 20 HR, 94 RBI (254 G)


.267/.330/.489 (.819 OPS) 5 HR, 13 RBI (26 G)

.255/.304/.378 (.682 OPS) 10 HR, 43 RBI (122 G)


.167/.167/.333 (.500 OPS0 0 HR, 0 RBI (2 G)

.250/.250/.375 (.625 OPS) 0 HR, 0 RBI (3 G)


.250/.316/.313 (.628 OPS) 0 HR, 0 RBI (4 G)

.253/.297/.373 (.671 OPS) 4 HR, 15 RBI (72 G)

Yes, I will be the first to admit these are small sample sizes, but I do think there is some context to think about here. Statistically, besides seven career games in LF where Edman (which I did not include since he hasn't played there this year either), Edman's bat has been at its best when he plays second base in his career.

Why is that? Well, for most of Edman's career, he's gotten to come to the ballpark and be the everyday second baseman. But isn't he a shortstop this year? Yes, that's correct, and look at his numbers at shortstop compared to other positions in 2023. He's much better at the plate when he gets to play the position he was supposed to play.

I am by no means saying Edman can't be a utility player or that he isn't good at it - he is. But the best thing for Edman as a player to get the most production out of him offensively is allowing him to come to the ballpark playing his primary position.

I understand why the Cardinals are doing this right now. Until very recently, Paul DeJong has been slugging the ball with the best in baseball, so his bat needed to be in the lineup. He's also arguably a better defensive shortstop, so sliding Edman to second gives them an incredible infield defense, or allows them to play Edman in the outfield like they are right now. Speaking of, I can't imagine they'd continue to have Edman playing in center field once Nootbaar or Carlson return, but then again, this lineup has been way more fluid than any of us expected this year.

The Cardinals do have other options though. Oscar Mercado could be playing in center field, and a guy like Matt Koperniak could make an impact in a short stint for the club. But the club obviously wants to fit Edman and their other best bats in the lineup, which is why he's getting the center field starts.


Once Nootbaar or Carlson return, Edman should return to being an infielder for the club, and if DeJong continues to struggle, he needs to regain the everyday role at shortstop.

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