Daniel Descalso has been busy doing what he does best: Frustrating lots of St. Louis Cardinals fans. This time around, he’s back to his old tricks, namely getting clutch hits late in important games that ultimately set the team up to win games. What a jerk. I’ve been a fairly vocal critic of his, but with big hits this week, I thought maybe it was time to give him another look.
The usual talking points from those that don’t like Descalso relate to his defensive abilities, and his batting skills. You know, all the things a position player needs to be able to do well to be useful to a team. While his defensive skills haven’t been upgraded much in the past week, he’s also not playing more the last couple of weeks because the team wants a defensive boost. His bat, however, is certainly out of character of late. So let’s look at exactly how good it has been.
|162 Game Avg.||162||426||378||43||91||21||4||3||35||5||3||33||76||.240||.308||.341||.648||79||129||5||5||7||3||5|
That’s a pretty bleak picture of a pretty weak bat. In fairness, he has 234 fewer plate appearances in 2014 than last year. Let’s say he could rise to his career numbers, would fans be satisfied with a career .240 hitter whose best season was three years ago? Surely, that’s a big old “no.” Are the last few weeks really something new? Let’s have a glance.
|Last 7 days||6||1||9||7||1||3||3||0||0||2||0||0||2||0||.429||.556||.857||1.413||6||0||0||0||0||0||0||.429||381||297|
|Last 14 days||13||3||24||19||3||8||4||0||0||4||0||0||5||2||.421||.542||.632||1.173||12||0||0||0||0||0||0||.471||300||241|
|Last 28 days||20||3||31||25||3||9||4||0||0||4||0||0||5||4||.360||.484||.520||1.004||13||0||1||0||0||0||0||.429||242||192|
Well, something has clearly changed. The .212 hitter has caught fire in the last month and is now hitting .348 over the previous 28 days. Hallelujah! He’s turned the corner. Not so fast. This edition of small sample theater is brought to you courtesy of just 27 plate appearances and two starts. It isn’t a lefty vs. righty issue either. He’s been very consistent over his career in this regard, always about .100 worse against a RHP, whether it’s a starter or a reliever. He isn’t getting lucky on match-ups.
|vs LH Starter||17||1||16||13||5||4||3||0||0||2||0||0||2||2||.308||.438||.538||.976||7||1||1||0||0||0||1||.364||249||175|
|vs RH Starter||61||16||108||100||4||20||5||0||0||7||1||1||6||24||.200||.252||.250||.502||25||1||1||1||0||0||0||.263||80||45|
This magic streak will require us to dig a little deeper into some game logs.
- In April, Descalso hit .125 in 35 plate appearances. He started in five of the 21 games he appeared in. He had two separate streaks going where he failed to get a hit in consecutive games in that month. He had two pinch hits, and went 2 for 4 in one game. That was the sum of his offense in April.
- May was kinder to Daniel, where he hit .250 in 22 plate appearances and three starts. He compiled five hits in the month.
- In June, he regressed a little, to .238 in (again) 22 plate appearances with four starts. He collected five hits.
- In July, he went .150 collecting just three hits in (again) 22 plate appearances.
What is it about the number 22? I’ll leave it to the reader to decide on that one. Alas, our numbers game comes to an end in August. Descalso has had 23 plate appearances this month and is .350, starting in two games.
Now, let’s look at those August at bats.
|67||492||114 (3)||Aug 8||STL||@||BAL||L,2-12||6-GF||2||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.173||.229||.224||.453||1||.04||-0.002||-0.50||PH SS|
|79||504||126||Aug 20||STL||CIN||W,7-3||CG||4||2||1||1||1||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.217||.291||.296||.587||8||.37||0.028||1.57||2B 3B|
Descalso has eight hits so far this month. For a guy who got three to five hits in every other month, seven might seem like a lot through August 19th. Really, with his limited exposure, eight hits is nothing. It will inflate the numbers on a temporary basis, but is hardly the basis on which to derive your starting lineup. What he really did right was going 3 for 3 on August 9th, and 2 for 5 the next day. Add a couple of pinch hits on the 18th and 19th, and you’ve got the very definition of riding the hot hand. Really, that’s all it is. Still, if we were to play everyday, he would likely cool off, but ultimately raise his season average to something resembling his career numbers. Perhaps, just a tad south of them.
Having said all of that, Descalso’s hits lately have been timely. When you play a lot of close games, and you’re a pinch hitter, your chances of getting a “timely” hit go up a lot. Either way, the Cards will take them. I’m happy to see anyone contribute to this offense that finally seems to be pulling it all together.