This is the fifth part of a series about the disjointedness of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team and organization. This part is about the Cardinals hitting and (lack of) athleticism and how that plays a part in how disjointed I believe the Cardinals team is at the major league level.
Hitting and Athleticism Despite being a team goal to become more athletic after the 2016 season, the Cardinals are still a relatively unathletic team in general. They do not get around the bases very well. They do not play an athletic defense. They are not guys with incredible range or speed tools on the whole.
Since Matheny has taken over, the 6 full season squads (2012-2017) the Cardinals have had are 27th in baseball in BsR - Fangraphs’ baserunning statistic. If you look at the 6 individual seasons they have teams ranked 172nd, 167th, and 151st out of 180. That’s 3 of Matheny’s 6 teams that have been in the bottom 1/6th of base running in the last 6 years.
In the last 6 years, they’ve also had (by UZR/150) the 179th ranked, 172nd ranked, and 158th ranked defenses out of 180. Again, that’s 3 of the 6 teams in the bottom 1/6th of defense in the last 6 years.
As far as hitting goes, this team has really (along with much of the rest of the league) turned into three-true-outcomes type players. Lots of people going for walks and dingers, leading to a lot of strikeouts as well. The strikeouts are so predominant this year that it’s alarming. Of the 23 hitters with at least 500 plate appearances between 2012 and 2017 for the Cardinals, 14 of them walked more than the league average of 8% over the last 6 years. 8 of the 23 also have a higher strikeout rate than the 20.5% league average mark - two of them nearly 150% of league average. While those two players (Grichuk and Moss) are no longer with the team, the MLB average K rate in 2018 is 22.7%. There are 7 of 12 non-pitchers who have taken plate appearances this year that have a K rate above that. Of those 7, five are above 30%, one is at 40%, Munoz is at 57.1%. ***at the time of this writing***
Again, I’ll reiterate that this is a league-wide issue, but maybe the Cardinals need to get back to being the innovators instead of following suit, because it doesn’t fit their park at all. It doesn’t fit the collection of players and talent at all.
Don't forget to check back in tomorrow to see how this all ties together!
*Fangraphs, a shout out to you and your wonderfulness in the world of statistics.