The Cardinal infield is going to be a carousel of who’s where and when this season. I thought we should take a moment and reflect on the situation at hand. There are definite plus and minuses to having infielders with the capability of playing multiple positions, however it makes your (AND Mike Matheny’s) head spin. No really, who’s on first. Wong’s on second and I don’t know what the deal is at third. I am going to break this up into a three part series. Today we will take a look at first base.
Who’s on first?
It appears as though Matt Carpenter has been planted at first base without options of playing elsewhere in the infield. (Maybe someone can explain why when I’m older) Carpenter seemed to be very capable of playing both 2nd and 3rd in the past several seasons. Carpenter is going to play everyday, his bat is a must have in the Cardinal line up. (When not facing the Cubs) There are however several other players that can play first and field it rather well.
Options at First: Matt Adams; Matt Carpenter; Jedd Gyorko; and Jose Martinez all have experience playing first base. Matt Adams has made a career of it, and Jose Martinez is a lot like Mark Reynolds where he can play both first and leftfield. (Jose is a better outfielder than Reynolds) With making Carpenter the everyday first baseman, we have had the… um… pleasure of watching Matt Adams learn to play outfield. I am supportive of Adams learning to play another position. I still think when the occasion calls for Slim City to patrol left, Peralta had better be on third base.
Thursday’s game was a prime example of why some of us at The Redbird Daily look at Mike Matheny and shake our heads in disbelief. In the rubber game Thursday, Carpenter started at first, Gyorko at third and Adams in leftfield. With Piscotty not starting the game in right field, the Cardinals had the option of playing Adams or Jose Martinez in the outfield. Both of them, who are hitting the ball really well right now, could have played the game.
With Peralta on the bench Matheny could have moved Carpenter to play 3rd base, where he has a UZR/150 of -2.6. Does that UZR/150 look bad? Jedd Gyorko has a UZR/150 of -4.6. Ok, that number is misleading, Jedd is a slightly better fielding third baseman, but you aren’t giving up much defensively by having Carpenter play 3rd. This would allow both Matt Adams (first base) and Jose Martinez (left field) to start the game. I already know what you’re thinking, “Gyorko needs to be in the lineup.” I’ll highlight why he doesn’t “need” to be in the lineup later, but Matheny could have put him at 2nd base.
By making Carpenter the everyday first baseman, the Cardinals are losing at bats from Matt Adams. To answer the question who should play first you must ask whose bat is more important in the lineup, Adams or Peralta. I am not sold on an aging Peralta, who has seen diminished power numbers and on base percentage. Adams on the other hand came into spring training in the best shape of his life and had a great showing at the plate. So please, for the love of all things Matheny, put Adams back at first.