For the fourth straight year, we’re taking some time in that time between the end of the season and the winter meetings to discuss each player that made an appearance on the St. Louis roster this season. Whether they played almost every day or never actually got into a game, they get covered in this series. All stats are exclusively their time in St. Louis. Just think of this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a quick evaluation before heading home for the winter.
Player: Randal Grichuk
Season stats: 103 games, 350 PA, 49 R, 23 2B, 7 3B, 17 HR, 47 RBI, 4 SB, 2 CS, 22 BB, 110 K, .276/.329/.548, 133 OPS+, 3.2 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Hero 11, Goat 11
Overall grade: B+
Positives: Had as many home runs as Jhonny Peralta in about 300 fewer plate appearances, tying him for second on the team….showed that he wasn’t just home run or bust with 30 other extra-base hits….hit .302 in May but had a higher OPS in June, July and August….hit .407 with a 1.192 OPS in the seventh spot, .325 and 1.186 in the eighth….hit .372 with almost a 1.000 OPS on the first pitch….hit .294 with nobody out and .307 with one out….hit .426 with a 1.372 OPS when there was a solitary runner on first.
Negatives: Struggled with runners in scoring position, hitting just .192 in those situations….also hit just .211 with two outs, though four of his home runs came in that situation….combining the two, hit just .118 with two outs and RISP….when the Cards were behind, his batting average was just .237….with all these numbers, it may not be surprising that in high leverage situations, he hit at just a .224 clip with a .776 OPS….that’s one ugly walk/strikeout ratio….battled an elbow injury during the second half, which infamously led to him being placed in center field when he couldn’t throw.
Overview: It’s still hard to believe that Grichuk was the throw-in to the David Freese deal. If nothing else, John Mozeliak does seem to have an eye for talent. Some folks did wonder how Grichuk would handle being a regular for the first time and, until he was injured, he passed everything with flying colors. If he’d been healthy, he likely would have challenged Matt Carpenter for the team home run lead and, with an offseason to heal up, perhaps can do that next season. The more encouraging thing, though, was the overall development of his game. While even if he’d been just a 30-HR slugger he’d have been appreciated, having a broader palette of tools is nice to see as well. Grichuk has gone from throw-in to almost indispensable in just two seasons, which should tell you all you need to know about him.
(You look at some of those numbers and wonder if he was pressing a little bit when the situation seemed to require a big hit. Perhaps with a year under his belt, he can relax in those situations and do a little better job with runners on and the like.)
Outlook: Assuming health, there seems to reason to think Grichuk won’t be the starting center fielder for the Cardinals on Opening Day 2016. While there could be an argument for using him as a trade chip given the potential outfield gridlock if Jason Heyward resigns, I’m not sure it’s a very good one. Power is such a rare commodity in today’s game, so even if Grichuk’s never going to hit .300, he’s going to likely be a huge part of the offense for the next few years.