It’ll soon be that time of baseball season, where many are anticipating the MLB Draft. The Cardinals are a team on a mission to restock, with 4 picks in the first 100 (lost a fifth signing Greg Holland). This year’s draft class is well loaded with talent, such as Seth Beer. The arrival of the powerful first baseman out of Clemson University has been well anticipated. He may well have the most power potential of any bat in the draft.
The Cardinals need to take a chance on him. First base has looked grim and vulnerable at times for the Cards in the time since Pujols left both in the minors and the majors. Matt Carpenter has struggled to stay healthy and his contract potentially ends after 2019. It only gets worse down the road if they do not risk it. Take a look at why it seems as if we’ve only drafted pitching since 2008.
The Top Drafted Bats Since 2008 (within 1st 30 picks)
Brett Wallace– 3B, Drafted 13th overall in 2008, on and off barely with major league clubs
Kolten Wong– 2B, Drafted 22nd overall in 2011, current second baseman
Nick Plummer– OF, Drafted 23rd overall in 2015, struggling in minors with performance and health
Delvin Perez– SS, Drafted 23rd overall in 2016, struggling with maturity and performance
Thank God for Kolten Wong right?
The Cardinals just don’t normally go after high potential power bats early on in the draft. Not one of these picks was a big slugging first baseman. Instead they’re always able to cycle in major league ready arms. We see this with the 2014 draft of Weaver and Flaherty, Wacha in 2012, and Marco Gonzales in 2013. While they haven’t avoided hitters all together in the first round (a healthy mix) they still haven’t taken a risk on an intriguing high schooler with lots of pop, nonetheless a college bat like Seth Beer.
No time like the present to change it up a bit.
Failed First Baseman (Minors/Fill-in)
Brett Wallace had the highest draft pedigree in recent years for Cards first baseman. At the time of his pick he was among the most advanced college bats available. Though after the trade to Oakland, he never fulfilled his potential (besides bringing us Holliday). Mark Hamilton put up some strong power numbers from 2010-2011 in the minors but unluckily could never emerge with Pujols holding down first base.
Matt Adams got a lot of people excited when he came up in 2013, just tearing the cover off the ball. After a mediocre year at the plate for a first baseman in 2014 and his quad tear in 2015, he never got control of the position again, losing out to Matt Carpenter. Mark Reynolds flopped. Brandon Moss was a power threat and then he was worse than Pete Kozma.
Allen Craig was an extraordinary surprise, developing into a feared hitter. The 2013 lisfranc injury derailed his career though. Jose Martinez is on the rise at the moment. When Matt Carpenter is healthy he can be a lethal offensive weapon. Together they form an all-star platoon?
Point is, first base has been a crazy merry go round since Pujols and they need a controllable bat they trust to hold it down. I personally believe this constant shuffle led to the offensive troubles the team experienced from 2014-2015.
Berkman-Craig-Adams-Reynolds-Piscotty-Adams-Moss-Carpenter-Martinez (I mean my goodness)
Why should the Cardinals Take a Chance?
Seth Beer’s potential is the type of lineup addition the Cardinals have not had homegrown for years. Come to think of it, they haven’t had that kind of offensive potential since Oscar Taveras. Here is his slash line from his 2017 season: .298/.478/.606. This kid can mash and has very good patience at the plate. In his college career he averages twice as many walks as strikeouts (shows good contact as well). His excellent plate coverage and batting eye should help him adjust to major league pitching easier in the long run.
Not to mention he provides a left handed bat, something the Cards are very scarce on. This is important as lefties generally hit right handed pitching well. He was struggling out of the gates this season but has really turned it on in the past few weeks. If there was ever a prospect in the 2018 Draft to build your lineup around, it’s Seth.
The draft directors have been able to boast about their plethora of arms and an outfield logjam. Yet take a look around the farm system at third and first base and it’s as barren as it can get. Luke Voit and Patrick Wisdom come to mind and not much else. The Cardinals can afford to draft for a position of need AND get nearly the best overall talent available at that point. This is an opportunity the Cardinals shouldn’t pass up on if Beer falls to them.
The major concern with drafting Seth Beer is that all of his value is tied to his bat. It goes to show how highly thought of his hitting abilities are that he’s even in the first round discussion. Still, he is a slow, hulking giant (6’3 200), who can’t really field. That’s OK if you can destroy pitching a daily basis. The problem there is the damage he has dealt has all been with a metal bat.
Still, since he’s been head and shoulders above the other players using metal bats, I think he can hit with a wooden bat given the chance to settle in (Team USA is a SSS and unfair).
Not to mention bats first, pitching later, has worked out well for one team in the NL Central…
His swing reminds me of a Freddie Freeman / Brandon Belt hybrid, but I think he has a Brandon Belt career ahead of him (don’t be quick to judge this). This of course looks better without the injuries and the suppressed power in San Francisco. A healthy Belt is a dangerous hitter and I’d be thrilled if Seth turned out like him.
The Future of the 1B Market
If you are the type of fan who believes that Mozeliak and the DeWitts inevitably make that big acquisition, that the Stanton pursuit gave you hope, then this is your area. I’ve checked the market and Paul Goldschmidt is the only guy that really stands out, besides the Lucas Duda types. He hits free agency after the 2019 season.
The light at the end of this tunnel is very dim. For YEARS all of baseball has discussed whether or not Arizona would be able to keep Goldy. They wonder if they will have the payroll space. Since AJ Pollock has flopped in terms of health and JD Martinez has moved on, I think it’s plausible they’ve decided to set their sights on keeping Goldschmidt. Even with Greinke’s contract, they’ll try their best to keep their franchise cornerstone around.
Jose Abreu also hits the market that year but I have plenty of doubts that as the “leader” he’d leave the White Sox willingly. He has also developed a reputation as a DH, and I think Mozeliak would take his defense into account, along with his age.
From 2018 to the 2022 free agent class (Freeman/Rizzo), all that stands is Goldy and Abreu. I quite frankly do not want to take the chance that Goldschmidt signs an extension with the Dbacks, a la Altuve and the Astros.
I wish I could talk more about Seth Beer but I’m no scout. The only time I’ve seen him play is through game footage. Heck, I’m not even like Kyle Reis, whatever it is that weirdo does. What I can do is take the info I’m given and try to provide a solution to our soon to be first base woes. Seth is a really talented guy, some of the best power I’ve ever seen from a college bat. He’d be that homegrown first baseman we thought Adams could be. This comes with the draft and college pedigree though. I really have high hopes that if Seth gets through picks #12-15 we will take him at #19.
Thanks for reading! Info obtained from online game footage, draft results, spotrac for future mlb free agents, and Bref for past first baseman. Clemson’s baseball stats for Seth’s slash line. Shout out to Kyle Reis for discussing this guy with me. Make sure to check out his article on Beer coming very shortly @ birdsontheblack.com