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: Jordan Hicks
Season stats: 2-2, 14 SV, 3.14 ERA, 29 G, 28.2 IP, 16 H, 2 HR, 11 BB, 31 K, 3.21 FIP, 0.942 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, 0.6 bWAR
Statcast: 4.5% barrel %, 86.9 exit velocity, 28.6% hard hit %, .237 xwOBA
Hero/Goat: Hero 1
Overall grade: A
Positives: Picked up where he left off last year, posting a 0.68 ERA between blowing his first save (game 2) and his second (game 16)….allowed a .163 BAA on the season….righties had a .328 OPS against him….gave up a .493 OPS at Busch Stadium, even though both of the home runs he allowed came at home….had an 11.4 K/9 at home….cleanup hitters had a .533 OPS against him….batters hit .160 if they swung as his first pitch and .164 if they didn’t…..limited hitters to a .152 BAA when ahead in the count, though one of his home runs allowed came in that situation….batters went 0-5 with a HBP with two outs and runners in scoring position….allowed a .504 OPS in late and close situations….batters slashed .091/.259/.136 in medium leverage situations….batters had a .427 OPS when he was on zero days’ rest….the Cubs hit .125 against him.
Negatives: Was lost for the season after allowing a run against the Angels on June 22, requiring Tommy John surgery….blew his first save opportunity of the year….lefties had an .803 OPS against him….only struck out nine in 11.1 road innings….had a 6.14 ERA in June….batters had a 1.311 OPS in his two losses….second and third place batters combined to go 7-18 with two doubles and a homer….hitters had a .417/.462/.500 line with runners in scoring position….allowed a .606 OPS in high leverage situations….had a 4.50 ERA in four extra innings….allowed a 1.064 OPS with one day’s rest….gave up a .968 OPS in interleague games….had a 7.36 ERA against the Brewers.
Overview: It’s always tough when a great talent gets struck down by injury. It’s probably not surprising that someone that throws as hard as Jordan Hicks was going to eventually require surgery. You wonder how the club would have managed had not Carlos Martinez been dealing with his issues and was in the bullpen. It was tough to see him benched and it raises some questions about his future.
When he was pitching, though, he was pretty much what you’d expect. He ran into a couple of hiccups but he was not scored on in 23 of his 29 outings. Especially after the tightrope that the Cards often walked with Martinez after Hicks’s injury, his dominance was welcome.
Outlook: Hicks won’t be back until the season is well underway, probably July. There’s going to be a lot of question about whether he can bring it like he did before the injury. There’s little doubt that he’ll make it back–Tommy John surgery has a great level of success and he’s a young and healthy player–but how much will his velocity be sapped? His command could be dicey even before the surgery–how will it be when he gets back? You’d like to think that by next September he’s locking down games. Until he’s back and has been back for a while, though, there’s going to be a lot of breath being held.