Exit Interview: Allen Craig

The last couple of years, I spent the time immediately after the season examining each player that had made an appearance in St. Louis during the season.  This series was well received and so I’m bringing this idea back for the 2014 offseason.  More summaries than anything, I imagine the player coming into Mike Matheny‘s office and having a short conference before heading home for the winter.  Stats are just the ones accumulated for the Cardinals during the regular season.

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Player: Allen Craig

Season stats:  97 games,  398 PA,  34 R,  17 2B,  1 3B, 7 HR,  44 RBI,  26 BB, 77 K, .237/.291/.346  78 OPS+

Hero/Goat: Hero 7

Overall grade: D

Positives: Hit .291 with three HR in May, giving us hope the real Allen Craig was returning….picked the right opponent to do damage against, putting up a 1.257 OPS against the Brewers….hit .270 at home, which was at least much higher than his season mark if not to his normal levels.

Negatives: Never got close to his career marks, as he was roughly 200 points of OPS behind his lowest year before this season….was helpless against right-handers, hitting only .208 on the year against them….posted a .408 OPS in July, indicating to John Mozeliak this wasn’t going to get any better.

Overview: Was it the foot injury not completely healing?  That seems to be the only way to rationalize the shell of a player we saw this season, the one wearing Craig’s jersey but doing a terrible imitation of him.  Out after out piled up and the man that could do no wrong with runners on in 2013 couldn’t get them home with weak grounders in 2014.

It was hard to see him go out there every day, especially when Oscar Taveras was sitting on the bench or demoted because Mike Matheny kept running him out there.  Baseball is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately sport, of course, and to be fair if the rest of the offense was clicking, it’s possible they could have waited a little longer for the resurgence of Craig.

However, given the fact that things weren’t getting better and that Matheny had almost a pathological need to keep putting him in the lineup, Mozeliak did what he did with Mitchell Boggs and helped dictate who would play.  It’s pretty impressive that he was able to get a guy like John Lackey for Craig and Joe Kelly, when you think about it.  Boston bet big on a Craig resurgence, a bet they still may win going forward.

Outlook: Baseball is littered with folks that had a good couple of years, then fell off the map.  However, I don’t really thing Craig is going to be that kind of player.  It might not be in 2015 and it might not be with Boston, but I feel that one of these years, we’ll look up and see Craig stroking base hits and driving in runs again at a rate that reminds us of the good old days.  I think most Cardinal fans would look forward to that day, assuming it’s not with a hated rival or anything.

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