For the sixth straight year, we’re taking a look back at everyone that played for the St. Louis Cardinals this season. Whether they were a major contributor or a bit player, here all year or for just a little while, we’ll look at their season and talk about what went right and what went wrong. The stat line listed is just their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers in the discussion may be for the entire year. Imagine this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a little review on their way home for the winter. As always when you see incredible artistry in the blogs, all credit for the header work goes to @cardinalsgifs.
Player: Aledmys Diaz
Season stats: 79 G, 301 PA, 31 R, 17 2B, 7 HR, 20 RBI, 4 SB, 13 BB, 42 K, .259/.290/.392, 78 OPS+, -0.7 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Hero 6, Goat 8
Overall grade: D
Positives: Hit .294 away from home….also hit .294 in May with a .744 OPS….went five for eight with a double and a homer as a pinch hitter….hit .320 when batting sixth….three of his seven homers came with two outs….hit .305 with an .804 OPS in low leverage situations….had a .318 average in the middle innings….against starters, had a .295/.330/.434 line….finesse pitchers were less of a challenge, as he hit them at a .302/.336/.474 clip.
Negatives: Given that he came into the season as the starting shortstop, the fact that he spent about half the season in Memphis is pretty telling….struggled at AAA as well, hitting just .253 with four homers off of Beale Street….didn’t light it up when he returned in September, hitting .231, though that was better than his .217 mark in April….hit .194 with a .559 OPS in the second spot in the lineup….hit .222 with runners in scoring position….in late and close situations, hit .121/.150/.224….hit .204 against relief pitchers….ended his season by pulling a hamstring as he tried to beat out a ground ball on the last day of the season.
Overview: When all the plans for this season’s offense were constructed last winter, one of the major focal points was Diaz at least coming close to repeating his 2016. The expectation was that his bat and eye, which had been so great the year before, could slide well into the second or third spot and complement the OBPs of Dexter Fowler and Matt Carpenter. Instead, Diaz’s plate discipline vanished as his walk rate dropped by more than half from the 8.9% he had in the previous season. Eventually, given the breakout that Paul DeJong was experiencing, the demotion was inevitable. The trip to Memphis didn’t seem to help that issue much either as he walked just 10 times in approximately 170 plate appearances. His strikeout rate stayed fairly constant from the prior year, but Diaz would up reaching for more pitches and not getting very good results.
Outlook: There’s still potential there, it feels like. Yes, 2016 will likely wind up as Diaz’s high-water mark, but you have to believe things won’t be as bad as they were in 2017. If he could figure out the plate discipline thing again and get back to drawing some walks, the rest of the numbers should rise with the tide. Of course, at best he goes into next season as the backup shortstop to DeJong, so finding the plate appearances to get those walks could be a challenge. Even with all the reported turnover, though, I’d be surprised if Diaz is sent packing.