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St. Louis Cardinals: Defining a good season from Randal Grichuk

Randal Grichuk

Randal Grichuk has been talked about quite a bit this off-season as he is switching positions, from center field to left field, and many St. Louis Cardinals fans are wondering which version of the slugger will show up in 2017. Will it be the 2015 version who had an OPS near .900 or will it be the 2016 version who’s OPS fell to .769. I wanted to look at a few statistics and find the point that would make 2017 a good season for Grichuk.

Home Runs

This is probably Randal Grichuk’s best tool, his power. In 2015, he belted 17 home runs over 323 at bats. Last season, that number increased to 24 long balls over 446 at bats. Doing the math you will find that he had a HR rate of 1 per 19 AB’s in 2015 and 1 per 18.58 in 2016. Even though his overall seasons were much different, this number stayed the same. So, let’s say that Grichuk gets 600 AB’s (which is pretty standard for a ful season), he should end with roughly 33 home runs. or 1 per 18 AB’s is what I went with. I think anything above 30 would qualify as a good number.

On Base Percentage

We go from an area that Grichuk excels in, to one that he struggles with the most. In 2015, Grichuk had an OBP of .329, while last year his number was at .289. Cardinals fans shouldn’t expect him to get on base much – as his power will be what brings value to the team – so we can set this bar low. I think an OBP above .320 would make for a good numbers. Of his three major league seasons, Grichuk has only does this once, in 2015. This may be a tough number to get.

Strikeout Percentage

Again, this is an area that he struggles with as he has had issues with whiffs in the past. I feel like Grichuk cut down on his strikeouts in 2016 at the expense of some extra base hit power. His slugging percentage was much lower in ’16 than ’15. His strike out rates for those two seasons were 31.4% in 2015 and 29.5% last season. For 2017, a K rate around 30% would be a good number. While this is really high, we don’t want him to sacrifice his raw power.

fWAR

Randal Grichuk’s f(angraphs)WAR is going to take a hit in 2017 with his position switch to left field. If we look at 2016, you will find only 6 left-fielders who had an fWAR over 3.0 and many of those players also played other positions. Steamer and Depth Charts projections (both found at fangraphs) project a 1.8 and 1.6 fWAR respectively for Grichuk, however these numbers are generally conservative. I think if Randal Grichuk has a good season, he will have an fWAR around 2.8, maybe into the 3’s if he gets some good playing time in center field.

If you look at Randal Grichuk’s career, you will find a great season in 2015 and an average one in 2016. For him to have a good season, you need to find the middle ground between those two years. I am beginning to think that he will perform better than what people may think, however his ceiling is limited by his strikeouts and lack of ability to get on base a great clip. With Dexter Fowler, Matt Carpenter, and Aledmys Diaz at the top of the lineup, the Cardinals don’t need him to get on base a ton, they need him to drive in runs.

Thanks for reading!

John Nagel
@CardinalsFarm

John
Father, husband, teacher who currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Grew up in St. Louis and has been a huge Cards fan as long as I can remember.
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