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St. Louis Cardinals: UCB Roundtable #2

Randal Grichuk

With Opening Day in sight, the United Cardinals Bloggers annual roundtable kicked off last week. Zach had the opportunity of kicking off the discussion for the Redbird Daily with his question last week.

This is my first time participating in the UCB roundtable and I must say, it’s pretty fun to be a part of. For those that don’t know, one member of the roundtable post a questions for the group each day. That member then posts the discussion on their respective site.

My question:

Hello everyone,

First time with the UCB roundtable for me and I definitely appreciate the opportunity. It’s a pretty cool thing to be a part of.

As I look at this 2017 team, it seems pretty clear that Randal Grichuk and Kolten Wong are somewhat of “X factors” for the Cardinals. Both are expected to be big parts of the defensive improvement as well.

Using whatever stats you choose to look at, what would it take from these two for you to consider it a good season from them?

Bill, I70 Baseball: Good question, Adam!

The issue here, from a statistical point of view, is exactly what you mention – they are expected to be key contributors to defense.
 
That said, I think we should reasonably expect them to grow as hitters as well. For me to be happy they were in the lineup all year, I’d like to see something similar to this:
Kolten Wong – .260 batting average/15 home runs/65 runs batted in/20 stolen bases
Randal Grichuk – .275 batting average/30 doubles/25 home runs/85 runs batted in
 
Wong’s speed has to become a factor for this team. He needs to really focus on baserunning and better anticipation. If he can add that to his repitore and be a threat to be a 20/20 guy (or dare I dream 30/30), he’s everything the team needs him to be at that time.
 
Grichuk has to find his power stroke. We put a lot of focus on the home runs but, for me, a player in a pitcher friendly park can really show his power stroke by amassing doubles.
 
I’d be happy from an offensive standpoint if these lines were true at the end of the season.

 

Mark, RetroSimba: If Randal Grichuk can hit 25 home runs with 80 RBI and Kolten Wong can average a hit for each game he plays, I’d consider that good production from them in 2017.

 

Colin, Redbird Daily: I want to see improved OBP from both of them.
 
Wong’s speed could go along way towards diversifying the offense, which was station to station a year ago. Along with Fowler, Wong could make the Cardinals a much better base running team, as long as Wong actually gets to first.

Grichuk has the most raw power on the team, but he’s capable of being more than Mark Reynolds. He’s only 25, but it’s his third year in the majors, and we need to see more patience.

Daniel, C70 At The Bat: I have a bit more confidence that Grichuk is going to be able to have an acceptable year than Wong, though I think they can both do fine both in the field and at the plate.  For Grichuk, I think that means hitting .270 with 20-25 homers.  Odds are he’s going to be able to upgrade the defense in left field without even trying.

 
Wong, on the other hand, is always an interesting person to keep an eye on.  I think he’d need to probably get his OBP to around .340-.350, hit close to 10 homers, and play above-average defense at second. None of that is impossible for him and I hope we’ll see that growth this season.

 

Jon, Redbird Dugout: For Grichuk, I think he will need to hit something like .245/.300/.500 with 30 home runs to really be able to call it a successful season. Acceptable might be about 25 home runs. But if he gets “unleashed” for another 100 or so plate appearances, he should be solidly exceeding 25 home runs.

For Wong, I feel like a lot of people expect him to be a different player than he is. But I think for him to have a successful season he needs to replicate the line he did after he returned from his trip in the minors, so .250/.340/.425ish is what I’m looking for out of him.
 
The biggest key for Wong is to have Matheny enable him to feel like he can get after it on the bases. It was a shame that a guy like Wong only tried to steal 7 times last year (and was successful all 7 times). If he’s batting 8th, as I figure he’s most likely to, he needs to be stealing second pretty much every time he’s on base ahead of the pitcher. But for him to run wild, he needs to believe he’s allowed to make mistakes, something Matheny hasn’t provided for him yet. If he’s playing regularly and doesn’t try to steal 30+ bases, there’s still a problem there.

Zach, Redbird Daily: I think both Wong and Grichuk will be fine defensively, and you never want to put much significance into one full season’s worth of defense. Wong has shown he will be above average at second, and Grichuk should do the same in left field.
 Offensively, I don’t think either are likely to change their contact quality profiles, so I’ll focus on their non-contact results here.
 
For Wong, I want to see continued growth in his strikeout and walk rates. He’s shown that he is unlikely to consistently get even league average results on BABIP. Without looking too hard, this is most likely a result of a lower launch angle distribution. Therefore, to keep his batting average up, he needs to put more balls in play. He’s been improving his K% every year, so getting that down to 10-12% is something I want to see. Getting his BB% above 10% would go a long way for his OBP (it was at about 9% last year), and most everything else would fall into place after that.
 
Similar story for Grichuk, but with more leniency on the K% and BB% so as not to sacrifice the power or who Grichuk is as a hitter. Getting his walk rate near 7% would is a good starting point for Grichuk; it’d be below league average, but not terribly so. Cutting his strikeout rate to 25% or below would make him a less do-or-die hitter; again, this rate would be worse than average, but Grichuk’s power usually makes up for that.
 
These benchmarks are relatively small changes that are pretty achievable, but I’d obviously welcome further improvement.

 

Josh, Pitchers Hit Eighth: I like this question because I am not a stats-driven person. For me it comes down to one thing only for those two, and it is simply games played. Mike needs to let them be who they are and if RG and Wong have at least 145-150 games played  going into October – that is a successful 2017!

 

Allen, Redbird Daily: I think Grichuk is primed for a big year. 25-30 home runs and 35-40 doubles. He’ll supply plenty of extra base hits. Other than Molina,  Grichuk to me seems to be the next position player to get an extension.   He’s up for his first round of arbitration next year, but I could see them buying out at least one year of arb.
 I really, really want Wong to succeed. It’s starting to seem like everything can go wrong will go wrong.  Hopefully I’m wrong on this.

 

Josey, Viva El Birdos: I agree with Josh. Last year, I was very aggravated with how Grichuk and Wong were handled. I mean, you can’t let one rough day at the dish be the motive for three straight games on the bench. Slumps are not busted that way; they are exaggerated. They’ve got to play.Injury permitting, I’d like to see Grichuk and Wong clear 145 games. I think if they are able to do that, law of average comes in to play and we’ll be able to evaluate at the end of the year with a better grasp of what these guys really bring to the table.

 

Thanks for reading!
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