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.
If we’re talking about 2019, we’ve got to highlight the brand that made the most impact this season: Primos and their partnership with Jose Martinez. Throughout the span of these interviews (today through Dec. 5) you can get 10% off your order of that sweet, sweet Cafecito coffee (well, I guess you probably have to doctor it to make it sweet) or anything else at their site. My wife is a coffee snob and we’ve bought multiple bags of the medium roast. It’s a great stocking stuff or Christmas gift as well, especially when you expand your order to pick up the Jose Martinez coffee mug. So use code C70SAVE10 at checkout and show your support of their ties to the Cardinal fanbase!
Player: Andrew Knizner
Season stats: 18 G, 58 PA, 7 R, 12 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 SB, 4 BB, 14 K, .226/.293/.377, 75 OPS+, 0.3 bWAR
Statcast: 2.6% barrel %, 88.1 exit velocity, 33.3% hard hit %, .234 xwOBA
Overall grade: C
Positives: Made his major league debut June 2 against the Cubs….hit his first homer in his eighth major league game….hit both of his home runs against righties and had a .731 OPS against them….hit .261 in the second half….hit .364 with a 1.053 OPS in 12 September plate appearances….was 1 for 2 in pinch-hitting situations….had a 1.571 OPS on the first pitch….hit .350 and had both of his homers with nobody out in an inning….had a .940 OPS with runners in scoring position….slashed .368/.400/.632 in medium leverage situations….hit .357 in the fist three innings….hit .417 against a starter the first time through….hit .276 with 12 homers in Memphis….hit .319 in AAA day games.
Negatives: Only got one at bat after September 12….went 2 for 10 against lefthanders….hit .217 at Busch….went 0-7 in the first half at the MLB level….hit .217 in July, the month he got the most plate appearances….hit .194 batting eighth, thogh both homers came in that position….had a .519 OPS when the pitcher was ahead in the count….had a .301 OPS with nobody on base….hit .125 in late and close situations….hit .143 with a homer in high leverage situations….went 1-17 when seeing a starter the second and third time during a game….went 0-7 against the Cubs….hit .169 leading off for Memphis.
Overview: Knizner did nothing to put much tarnish his reputation as one of the top prospects in the organization, even as the outlook for him being Yadier Molina‘s heir apparent got a little cloudier. Again, that’s not Knizner’s fault; it has much more to do with the fact Molina may play 2-3 more years as a starter. (Ask Carson Kelly how it feels to get out of that shadow.) Knizner did get to the big leagues this year but, as you might expect, he didn’t get a real long run. He got to back up Matt Wieters and while we’d probably have liked a more equitable split, it’s not terribly surprising, especially since Wieters was doing well, that Knizner sat a lot of the time.
Kninzer had a fine season at Memphis and from all reports has done a good job working on the defensive portion of his game. I think we saw enough at the big league level to be excited and interested in what Knizner might be able to provide. When and where he’ll do that is another story.
Outlook: As it stands right now, Knizner should be the backup for Molina this season. Molina, as every knows, doesn’t really like days off and it seems unlikely that 2020 will be an different, especially since he’s angling for an extension to the deal that ends next year. The rise of Ivan Herrera gives another option for replacing Molina and one that might fit the window better. Still, the Cards don’t have anyone in between there. Could they dangle Knizner this offseason and resign Wieters or someone like that? Maybe. I don’t think they will, which then puts the development of Knizner in a bit of limbo as well. It’s an interesting time to be a catcher in the Cardinal system, it seems.