Not quite 15 months ago, the Cardinals sent Matt Adams to the Atlanta Braves for a lottery ticket prospect. Today, they had a successful waiver claim to put the Birds on the Bat back on his chest.
Last year, Adams was squeezed out of the picture by Matt Carpenter at 1B, who had been planted there due to the uprising of Jedd Gyorko — as well as the hope that Jhonny Peralta may return to servicability — at 3B. Manager Mike Matheny took Adams’ spring training back-field work to heart, and inserted him in LF multiple times with eye-popping and jaw dropping results (not in the good way). Adams had become an ill-fit for the 2017 roster and John Mozeliak could see clearly that the misuse of him defensively was unlikely to stop completely. Therefore he was traded.
It made sense to do so then.
The reunion makes sense, now.
The deal today, with the Cardinals acquiring him from the Nationals via revocable waivers, costs only cash.
I’m not necessarily super excited about watching this re-run. Honestly, I don’t know why the Cardinals claimed Adams but did not claim Daniel Murphy (hitting .340/.370/.534) since the All-Star Break), allowing him to go to the Cubs. But I’m also not upset with the Adams move on its own merits.
Keep in mind that part of what caused “Matt Adams Fatigue” during his original tenure was the way the manager deployed him. There is a new guy in charge that will very likely use him in the best manner possible. That is comforting.
Now, his return does two things for the Cardinals. One is to provide LH power as a pinch hitter. The other is to maximize matchups in a functional platoon with Jedd Gyorko.
Adams has always had a knack for pinch-hitting, with a career line of .295/.337/.497 and 17 XBH’s in 187 PA’s.
He has more pinch-hit HR’s (9) and RBI’s (45) than any player in the Majors Leagues, with at least 50 PH PA’s, since he entered the league in 2012. For players with at least 100 PA’s, his .295 average ranks 4th. Simply, he has managed to be one of the finer pinch hitters in baseball over the course of his career.
For a team that has only Greg Garcia as a LH option off the bench, he should be very useful in this role.
Speaking of pinch hitting, among players with 50 PH PA’s or more since 2012, Jose Martinez leads all of baseball with a .426 batting average. Imagine having both him and Adams available in late innings.
And let’s not forget this masterpiece…
The other side of the coin is how he can help the team maximize L/R matchups. Jedd Gyorko has been a solid hitter this season, and is fantastic at 3B. He destroys LHP to the tune of .312/.400/.558 and a 159 wRC+, 59% better than league average. However, he is 11% below league average (89 wRC+) against RHP.
This season against RHP, Matt Adams has hit .264/.345/.538 with a 133 wRC+ and 17 of his 18 HR’s.
There was also some word early in the season that the team was tailoring Gyorko’s matchups with RHP to pitchers that predominantly throw fastballs, and limiting his appearances against pitchers with dominant breaking pitches.
Adams will allow the team to side with defense and start Gyorko against LHP’s and fastball heavy RHP’s, but create better matchups against most RHP by inserting Adams at 1B and sliding Carpenter to 3B.
Yes, they kind of had this situation earlier in the year with Jose Martinez. The difference here is two-fold. 1) Martinez and Gyorko presented a R/R situation that complicated the issue, whereas Adams provides a true L/R platoon opportunity. 2) Adams has proven himself to be a capable, and surprisingly nimble, defensive 1B, which is basically the opposite of Jose Martinez.
If they can plant a Gyorko/Adams platoon in the 5th or 6th place in the lineup, they are setting themselves up for success.
It’s certainly not as sexy as getting Bryce Harper, and still a step below Daniel Murphy, but grabbing Matt Adams for next to nothing to beef up your lineup and bench for the stretch run is a move that makes a ton of sense.
They have lacked a LH power option on the bench since the day they traded him, so why not cure that need by bringing him back?
Thanks for reading!