Over the course of my St. Louis Cardinals fandom, I’ve seen many players come and go. I still consider myself to be among the younger generation of Cardinals fans. I didn’t see Whiteyball in the 80’s and I barely remember any of the 90’s. Seeing Mark McGwire slug 70 home runs and break the single season home run record in 1998 is the first true memory of the Cardinals that I have. That was the summer that I turned six years old. I obviously didn’t truly understand baseball at the time, but I was hooked.
As I grew up and continued following baseball more and more, one thing seemed to be a recurring theme each season.
The Cardinals can’t hit lefties.
It has never made much sense to me since the lineup would see changes every year. Sometimes these were minor changes and sometimes they were drastic changes. Often times they even had a predominantly right-handed hitting lineup. Whether they were a great team or not, it never seemed to matter. Left-handed pitchers (especially soft tossing lefties) always seemed to be their Achilles heel.
2016 was one of the more minor split differences between lefties and righties, but there was an obvious difference nonetheless. The 2016 Cardinals slashed .257/.328/.450 against right-handed pitchers and .250/.318/.423 against left-handed pitchers.
These splits are close enough that I believe one addition can cure whatever lefty woes they still have. That addition is Dexter Fowler.
Fowler will slot in the Cardinals leadoff spot as a switch hitter. Over the course of his career, and especially the last few seasons, he has been a phenomenal hitter from the right side of the plate. His splits for the last three seasons look like this:
2016 vs. LHP .293/.396/.480 137 wRC+
2016 vs. RHP .270/.392/435 126 wRC+
2015 vs. LHP .326/.399/.467 140 wRC+
2015 vs. RHP .228/.331/.395 102 wRC+
2014 vs. LHP .327/.419/.467 157 wRC+
2014 vs. RHP .260/.361/.376 116 wRC+
These are great numbers against lefties all three seasons. The biggest thing that sticks out to me is that last season was his lowest OBP against lefties of the three years, and it was still a whopping .396.
As I noticed these numbers I initially thought it would mean his splits against righties would be bad but that is not the case. He was still an above average hitter every season against them.
Putting a near .400 on base percentage against lefties at the top of the Cardinals lineup will almost certainly lead to plenty of runs.
Aledmys Diaz did have reverse splits last season as he had a 93 wRC+ against lefties and a 147 wRC+ against righties. So I believe he should be dropped in the lineup against them.
Piscotty crushed lefties last season and would add another .400 on base percentage against them at the top of the lineup. Carpenter is left-handed but he handles lefties just fine. And Randal Grichuk brings plenty of power in the cleanup spot.
I hope to see a Cardinals lineup in 2017 that will be equally competitive every single game no matter who is on the mound. I believe Dexter Fowler is the man to make that happen.
Thanks for reading!
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