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St. Louis Cardinals: Looking at the back half of the lineup

Randal Grichuk

The top four spots in the 2017 lineup are fairly easy to define, and looks to have a great chance to be very productive.  A combination of Aledmys Diaz, Matt Carpenter, and Stephen Piscotty, following Dexter Fowler will give the club many early scoring opportunities. The greater question in the lineup with be the configuration and production in the lineups back half. The spots could be easy to fill, but let’s take a look at what could give the team the best run scoring opportunities.

Randall Grichuk will be the best option to hit 5th in this lineup. RBI chances will be plentiful here. The top four in the lineup will manufacture plenty of  run scoring chances.  Initially penciled in to hit cleanup in 2016, Grichuk struggled early. His playing time was cut, and he was eventually demoted to Memphis. Upon returning to St.Louis, he rebounded to have a solid second half of the season. Finishing third on the teams in doubles (35), fifth on the team in slugging (.480), and leading the team in XBH%. Described as the “Ferrari” in the garage, Grichuk is a top flight athlete that hits the ball extremely hard and is a great base runner.

Looking at the six spot in the order as another two hole will make this the perfect spot for Yadier Molina.  One of the most difficult men to strikeout throughout his career. Molina is a great hit-and-run man who could benefit from Grichuks speed in front of him in the lineup. He led the team by grounding into 22 double plays last year, mainly by running like a catcher. Molina’s fantastic bat control could lead to plenty first to third opportunities for the top five spots in the order.  Any loss of power could be negated by spraying hits around the infield and letting the young guys run.

Having a player coming off a 30 home run season hitting seventh could really had length to a lineup. Jedd Gyorko did just that. As much as I would like to see Gyorko get the majority of the playing time at third base, this looks to be a time share. Jhonny Peralta will be the other half of the equation. This could be beneficial to the ballclub if either player were to regress. Peralta has shown signs of age related regression in the last two seasons. Injuries seemed to show a major loss of power, but looking deeper, his hard contact rate was in line with his career numbers.  Hopefully these two can slug it out and make us want both in the lineup. The biggest concern for Cardinals fans is that neither player will hit.

Gut feeling. Kolten Wong will have a rebound season with the renewed confidence by management. His base running and defense are the assets the club was looking for in the offseason plans to improve. The eight spot in the lineup isn’t always easy hitting in front of the pitcher, but doesn’t carry the same pressure as hitting in the top two spots. Wong could thrive here. Look what it did for Aledmys Diaz last year. If teams were to walk Wong to face the nine hole, he’ll be on base in front of the strongest portion of the lineup.  If teams look to challenge him to possibly save the pitcher to lead off the next inning, Wong could certainly make the pay. Arguably the teams second best base runner, Wong could prove a thorn to opposing teams.  Let’s hope this opportunity will erase any doubts that he could be a star.

Finishing fourth overall in runs scored in 2016 with 779 runs, this team with much improved base running and athleticism will pass the 800 run plateau.  Very few teams outside of Coors Field will score 800 runs and not make the playoffs.

Thanks for reading.

 

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