Will Victor Scott be the odd man out for the Cardinals when Lars Nootbaar returns?

If he is, this could be a huge mistake.
St. Louis Cardinals v San Diego Padres
St. Louis Cardinals v San Diego Padres / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

At the beginning of the season, I was hoping we would see Victor Scott as the St. Louis Cardinals’ Opening Day center fielder. The Cardinals had other ideas. Surely after Tommy Edman got hurt, they would change their minds. Nope. Maybe they would let him start when Lars Nootbaar got injured. Again, the answer was no. It wasn’t until after Dylan Carlson ended up getting injured did they finally gave in. 

Now that it sounds like Nootbaar is close to coming back, will the Cardinals use the LIFO inventory control method (last in, first out) or will they do what is best for the team and keep Scott in center field?  

I wrote that Scott and Winn needed to be on the starting day lineup, mainly because the Cardinals had to improve their defense over last year. With the two rookies starting, the Cardinals are one of only three teams without an error. 

In just six games, Victor Scott has changed this team. Playing with Winn at shortstop, the defense up the middle has improved, giving the pitchers more of a chance. Scott has become a disrupter on the base paths and seems to score at will. I know some like to see home runs, but there is much more excitement in seeing Scott or Winn making a play worthy of web gems. Whether it’s a run scored or a run saved, they both can affect the win column. 

The Cardinals will have a tough decision to make. Lars Nootbaar must be on the team so someone will have to go. It should not be Victor Scott. Even when Edman and Carlson are healthy, he should stay on this team and stay as the everyday center fielder. The Cardinals can use the same excuse they had before and say that he needs more seasoning. They can’t say, however, that Edman or Carlson are better center fielders. They can’t say either of them creates more excitement or creates more havoc for opposing pitchers. 

What they can say is as of today, he has an average of under .200. This is true, but it is the most misleading stat you could look at. The fourth-highest walk percentage on the team belongs to Scott. Paul Goldschmidt has more strikeouts. He has scored the second-most runs on the team. Is he over-matched at the plate facing major league pitching? Scott has the fourth-highest hard-hit percentage at 28.6 percent. That is higher than Goldschmidt, Arenado, and Gorman. What is even more impressive is where those hard-hit balls go. To center field. He ranks in the top ten of center fielders with over 20 at-bats in the hard-hit column. He is not over-swinging and pulling the ball and he isn’t swinging too late and going to the opposite field. The launch angle was a statistic they used when they wanted to send Jordan Walker back down last year. Scott’s launch angle is the highest of anyone on the team who has over 20 plate appearances. 

He isn’t swinging at pitches outside the zone either. His percentage of 27.9 is right in line with Goldschmidt’s 26.6 and Arenado’s 28.9.

The underlying numbers show that the batting average should go up. Last year in double-A, his average was .323. 

Last year the Cardinals used launch angle as an excuse to send Walker back down, even though he had one of the best rookie hitting streaks ever. Let’s hope that Scott can avoid the same fate and that the Cardinals as a team can abide by what they ask from the fans. Have patience.