Exit Interview 2017: Tommy Pham

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: Tommy Pham

Season stats: 128 G, 530 PA, 95 R, 22 2B, 2 3B. 23 HR, 73 RBI, 25 SB, 71 BB, 117 K, .306/.411/.520, 144 OPS+, 6.4 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Hero 20, Goat 10

Overall grade: A

Positives: We could be here all day listing out the good things Pham did….became the first 20/20 Cardinal since Reggie Sanders in 2004….hit .310 with a .922 OPS against right-handers….enjoyed the road, hitting .340/.431/.611 with 17 of his home runs away from Busch….hit .313 in the second half….had a 1.032 OPS in July….had a 1.157 OPS in games the Cardinals won….hit .313 with 16 homers in the second spot in the order….six of his home runs came on the first pitch, where he had a 1.239 OPS….hit .563 and slugged 1.899 when the count was 3-1….had nine homers with nobody out….had a 1.016 OPS with one out….hit .305 with runners in scoring position….seriously, all day….had a .972 OPS in late and close situations….had a 1.025 OPS in mid-leverage situations….hit .310 against starters and .301 against relievers….hit .302 against power pitchers and hit 14 home runs against finesse pitchers….hit .353 against the Reds…earned himself a new watch.

Negatives: Had a weak spring training which meant he started the season in Memphis….hit .265 at home….had a .765 OPS in June….was just 2-9 as a pinch-hitter….hit .166 with two strikes on him….hit .220 when the count ended with the pitcher ahead….hit .238 in the first inning….hit .248 against starters the first time through the order….hit .245 against the Pirates…didn’t do quite enough to make Tara Wellman buy his jersey.

Overview: The 2017 season wasn’t a great year for the Cardinals but it would have been disastrous without the efforts of Pham.  You have to wonder where the club would have wound up had he gotten his eyes looked at before spring training instead of afterwards.  If he makes the team out of the gate, how many more wins does the team have?  (Then again, he might have been mainly stuck on the bench and not been able to show how good he was like he did in Memphis.)  Completely healthy and focused, Pham showed why some prospect lovers (especially our good friend Bob Netherton) have been singing his praises for quite some time.  The power/speed/average package doesn’t come along very often but Pham brought it all in spades while not playing his regular outfield position.  There really wasn’t anything else you could have asked out of Pham this season.

Outlook: When you have a year like this, you’d like to think your position is secure and, in all honesty, it probably is.  While he’d never consider it, there’s a good possibility this was Pham’s career year, but even 80%-90% of this would be a valuable asset to the Cardinals.  On the flip side, you do have his injury history and his eye issue to always be concerned about.  Do you risk things falling apart for Pham?  After all, he is 30 and just now establishing himself.  Could it be that this is the time to trade him because he’ll bring back the biggest return?

I don’t believe that they’ll deal Pham, mainly because he’d have to be part of a huge package for the club to be able to absorb the public relations hit and the idea that Mike Matheny didn’t want him on the team so they dealt him.  More than likely, Pham will be hitting second come Opening Day for the Cardinals and we’ll get to see what he can do for an encore.

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