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: Yairo Munoz
Season stats: 108 G, 329 PA, 39 R, 81 H, 16 2B, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 5 SB, 6 CS, 30 BB, 71 K, .276/.350/.413, 109 OPS+, 0.2 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Hero 8, Goat 9
Overall grade: B
Positives: After coming over in the Stephen Piscotty trade, parlayed a strong spring to making the Opening Day roster….played six different positions during the season, from three games in center to 40 games at short….had a four-hit game against the Royals soon after he returned from a demotion to Memphis….raised his average from .105 to .314 over two weeks in May….hit .280 against right-handed pitchers….seven of his eight homers came away from Busch….hit .285 in the first half….had a .424/.457/.636 line in May (11 games)….hit .322 with three home runs and 14 RBI in July….hit .306 in games the Cardinals lost…had a .971 OPS when he played second base….went 5 for 15 as a pinch-hitter….was 1 for 1 when he hit first in the lineup….had a .338 average when hitting seventh….had a .991 OPS on the first pitch….hit .316 with nobody out….with a runner on first and less than two outs, had a 1.215 OPS….his OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position was .873….hit .337 in medium leverage situations….had a 1.159 first inning OPS….hit .458 when seeing a pitcher for the third time in a game….hit .311 against power pitchers….slashed .417/.523/.583 against the Cubs….had a .780 OPS against the Brewers.
Negatives: Didn’t start off on the right foot, hitting .111 in 20 plate appearances and earning a trip to AAA….hit .214 with a .598 OPS during August….hit .189 when playing third base….had a .233 average when hitting behind in the count….hit .247 with two outs in an inning….five of his home runs were solo shots….hit .230 when the Cardinals were ahead….hit .182 in the fifth inning….hit .266 in night games.
Overview: Everyone was glad that Piscotty got a chance to be in Oakland for the final days of his mother’s life but the Cardinals didn’t just give him away. Munoz proved to be a solid utility player that could cover a number of positions and do so adequately if not a little better. He’s not going to win a Gold Glove, most likely, but Munoz might be one of the true heirs to the Jose Oquendo throne with his versatility. While Munoz may have proved not to fall in love too much in spring with his rough April, overall he verified what the club was thinking when they added him to the roster.
Outlook: With Greg Garcia gone, in no small part because of Munoz’s emergence at a cheaper salary, Munoz will get a chance to increase his role in 2019. Given his prospect status, it’s not like last season came out of the blue and while the league will make adjustments to him, there’s no particular reason to think that Munoz can’t be a solid fill-in and a guy that can play a lot of different positions again next year. Who knows, maybe he can add first base, catcher, and pitcher to his resume!