Compared to the rest of the team, the infield is actually the most stable unit, in my opinion, heading into next season.
Currently, Baseball Reference has it listed this way:
1B) Matt Carpenter
2B) Kolten Wong
SS) Paul DeJong
3B) Jedd Gyorko
C) Yadier Molina
The biggest question in my mind is shortstop.
Is Paul DeJong legit? Was Aledmys Diaz a flash in the pan?
Looking at his minor league stats, DeJong had shown some pop in the minors, hitting 23 homers last season in AA, then hitting 13 in 190 PA’s this season at AAA. Now, of course, he has 24 homers for the big league club. His overall slash line is .280/.320/.523. I’d like the plate discipline to better, but given his success this season, that’s nitpicking. Still, it is something to watch going forward.
DeJong, of course, is this year’s version of Aledmys Diaz. Diaz who was recalled recently, was a stud last year, declined this year, having a .263/.295/.399 slash line while not being the best defensive SS. That opened up SS for DeJong, who has a solid grip on it now. I wonder though if the Diaz of last year was just a flash in the pan? He’d never hit .300 in the minors, but his minor league career was relatively brief at just two seasons, so I’m not really sure. What I do know is, unless DeJong regresses next year, he has a lock on the position unless Diaz turns into Ted Williams on offense or Ozzie Smith on defense. Otherwise, Diaz is now a utility infielder for the club going forward.
The other question I have is first base.
Obviously, Matt Carpenter is the incumbent, and rightfully so, but Jose Martinez has had a very good season, with 13 homers in 289 PA’s and an overall slash line of .309/.378/.516, rightfully earning more playing time. Still, I feel bad for Carpenter. with 3 straight seasons of 3 WAR or better and a career .378 OBP, he’s earned a permanent position but seems to bounce around the infield at the Cardinals whim. He handles it well, and his versatility can be beneficial (see Ben Zobrist) but I can’t help but wonder if he wouldn’t mind having a permanent home. With Jedd Gyorko and Kolten Wong both doing well, either Carpenter or Martinez has to sit. At the very least it gives us depth and flexibility, and if either Wong or Gyorko struggles, Carpenter can jump right in.
Catcher is Yadier Molina’s until he retires.
All in all, I think the infield is in pretty good shape for next season.
As always, thanks for reading.