Exit Interview 2017: Stephen Piscotty

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: Stephen Piscotty

Season stats: 107 G, 401 PA, 40 R, 16 2B, 1 3B, 9 HR, 39 RBI, 3 SB, 52 BB, 87 K, .235/.342/.367, 88 OPS+, 0.6 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Hero 9, Goat 7

Overall grade: C

Positives: Drew one more walk in almost 250 fewer plate appearances than he did in 2016….eight of his nine homers came off of righties….hit .260 with eight homers away from Busch….slugged .452 in June….hit .571 (4-7) as a pinch-hitter with three walks….hit .381 with a 1.000 OPS on the first pitch….hit .311 when the count was even….had an .835 OPS in late and close situations….hit .500 (5-10) during a series in San Diego…also hit .308 at AT&T Park….hit .300 at Great American Ballpark….Camden Yards is the only park where he homered more than once….signed a five-year deal right after the season began….in eight games in Memphis hit .313 with four homers.

Negatives: Fell off significantly in almost every major category….was caught stealing in six of nine tries….hit .208 at Busch Stadium with an OPS of .592….hit .224 with three homers in the second half of the season….had a .171 average in July….batting third (the place he hit most often), his line was .239/.341/.368….hit .165 when he was ahead in the count….five of his nine homers were solo shots….hit .221 in high leverage situations….had a .503 OPS the first time he saw a starter….hit .053 with a runner on third and two outs….hit .077 against the Dodgers in LA, the one California team he didn’t do well against….dealt with his mother’s diagnosis of ALS.

Overview: When a player drops off this far this fast this early in his career, it leaves you scrambling for answers.  Obviously having his mother facing a terminal illness played a large part by affecting his focus and desire.  I really don’t think it’s a coincidence that he did so well against the Padres and the Giants when he faced them out there since he was able to be close to home and check in on his mother.  That can’t be all of it, though.  We know that Piscotty tried to alter his swing and that didn’t seem to pan out.  There’s probably a little regression just as the league figures him out a bit.  Mix all those in the blender and you get a completely lost season.

You can’t say that Mike Matheny didn’t give him plenty of chances to try to work through it, playing him almost daily in September even as the club was trying to stay in the playoff hunt.  (Piscotty’s September line: .222/.317/.361.  Take out that West Coast run at the beginning of the month that was so good and it was .160/.263/.200 in his last 16 games.)  Can he make the adjustments he needs?  There are so many questions swirling around the young outfielder this winter.

Outlook: There’s always the possibility that Piscotty is dealt this offseason, perhaps to a West Coast team that would allow him more time around his family.  I expect Randal Grichuk is more likely to move (though they could both go) because I think the Cardinals still like Piscotty and would hate to sell him this low.  Hopefully with a winter to try to remake his swing again and get back on track, Piscotty can come out and be a useful asset yet again next season.

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