Every year since 2012, we’ve spent some time after the season looking back at those that wore the Birds on the Bat. Whether it’s a bit player that got into just a couple of games or someone that played almost every day, we’ll look at their stats, their positives, their negatives, and grade them based on what we would have expected from them. The stat line is from their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers may include time with other teams, if applicable. Think of this as like the players packing up their locker and then seeing Mike Shildt before they head off for the winter. Once again, our great header work comes to us from cardinalsgifs, who continues to be a master.
Player: Bud Norris
Season stats: 3-6, 28 SV, 3.59 ERA, 64 G, 57.2 IP, 51 H, 8 HR, 21 BB, 67 K, 3.99 FIP, 1.249 WHIP, 10.5 K/9, 0.0 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Goat 6
Overall grade: B
Positives: Stepped into a shaky bullpen and, along with Jordan Hicks, became one of the few that could be counted on….took over the closer role early and didn’t blow a save until the beginning of June….allowed only 16% of inherited runners to score in the first half….limited lefties to a .184 average and two home runs….had a 2.43 ERA away from Busch….had a 11.7 K/9 in the first half….tallied eight saves and a 1.86 ERA in August….batters hitting first had a .367 OPS….when batters swung at the first pitch they put up a .596 OPS….they hit .238 on the first pitch….when the count was even, hitters had a .474 OPS….allowed a .208/.333/.264 line with runners in scoring position….five of the eight homers he allowed were solo shots….batters had a .557 OPS in low leverage situations….had a 0.77 ERA with two days’ rest….had a 2.45 ERA against the Cubs.
Negatives: Norris had some blister and leg issues and that seemed to impact the end of his season….gave up five runs total in back-to-back games to start September….right handers hit .297 against him on the year….had a 4.82 ERA at home….his relationship with Hicks came under scrutiny after an article by Mark Saxon, though Hicks seemed to have less issue with Norris than the article indicated….had a 4.66 ERA in the second half, mainly due to a 13.50 mark in September….control deserted him, posting a 0.44 K/BB in September finalizing a 1.13 K/BB second half….allowed a 1.053 OPS to batters hitting in the second spot….when he had a 1-0 count, allowed a .462/.500/.923 line (14 plate appearances)….when batters were ahead in the count they had a 1.187 OPS….batters had a .811 OPS in high leverage situations….had a 15.00 ERA in extra-inning games (three innings)….had 10 plate appearances after 25 pitches and allowed a .889 OPS….had a 4.85 ERA with zero days’ rest….went 1-2 with a 11.25 ERA in nine games against the Reds….had a 4.05 ERA against the Brewers.
Overview: When Norris signed to a $3 million contract in the spring, some folks got worked up but I wasn’t one of them. I felt like he’d be a fine middle reliever and he wasn’t going to be closing for the club given all the other options they had. However, baseball is a funny thing. Norris turned out to be the best option for the ninth inning, at least until Carlos Martinez turned into a reliever. Norris’s second-half fade was in line with what he had done the year before and, like 2017, there were injuries to take a little bit of the blame. Still, Norris’s command went completely out the window and if it had not been for Martinez, it’s hard to really know what the club would have done down the stretch. That end of the season shouldn’t overshadow all the benefit he gave to the club for most of the year, however.
Outlook: Given the Cardinals’ history with free agent relievers, the stir that his “tough love” relationship with Hicks made with the ownership and the front office, and that late season fade, the odds of Norris being back in a Cardinal uniform are very slim. Norris indicated he’d like to return but the front office hasn’t shown any similar inclination. Most likely Norris will get a contract in line with what he got this year and again it might be spring training before he finds out where he’ll be plying his trade in 2019.