If I can keep it up all month, 31 days of positive posts! There's going to be enough negativity going around with the Cardinals not in the post-season.
Today is going to be a very hard day for me to be positive about the 2018 Cardinals. As most of you know, I was wholly disappointed in Marcell Ozuna's season. It's not because I expected him to repeat his 2017. I didn't. I was not under any illusions that was even a possibility. In fact, my 2018 projections had him a full 103 points of OPS under his 2017 totals! I was basically panned for this projection, but most of his career was far below even those modest projection totals.
I was disappointed because the transformation of his swing in the 2017 season did not stick. I was disappointed because the gold glove defense he was said to have did not show up - especially in the throwing arm, on which I could have taken an extra base and I'm an out of shape, slightly overweight 38 year old, nearly non-athlete at this point. Despite not being terribly high on 3 of the 4 prospects we sent to Miami in the trade, I was disappointed in what we had to give up for Ozuna in comparison to what the Yankees had to give up to get the clearly superior player in Giancarlo Stanton. I was disappointed that we gave up 2 players who hit like Ozuna (by OPS) that were younger and had more cost control in the same offseason to create room for Ozuna.
So where does the optimism come in? Well, the Cardinals still got 88 RBI out of Ozuna this year, in what I would say was likely the 4th best year of his career. Ozuna still hit .280. Ozuna struck out just 17.5% of the time - no way would I have guessed that by watching him swing at sliders. Ozuna was faster on the bases than I would have guessed. Looking deeper into advanced stats, Ozuna was in the top 14% in barreled baseballs, the top 12.5% of percentage of hard hit balls (95+ mph), top 10 in the league (top 3%) in distance on home runs, 8th in top exit velocity (top 2.5%), top 25 in average exit velocity (top 7.5%) - the problem lied in that fact that he was 12th in hardest ground balls, but t-62nd in hardest line drives and fly balls. (Compare that to 2017 when he was 33rd in ground ball exit velocity, but 13th in line drive and fly ball exit velocity.)
The Cardinals need Ozuna to put it all together again in 2019, like he did in 2017. There's a lot to suggest he can.
Positive October Day 6, in the books!