After every season (dating back to 2012), we’ve spent time looking at every player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals that season. They might have gotten a couple of innings, they might have played every day, but if they played, they get a post. Usually, I like to term this like the players are packing up their locker and then seeing Mike Shildt before they head off for the winter. This year, of course, was anything but typical. So we’ll look at every player, we’ll take in some of their stats, but we won’t be giving out grades this season or delving too much into the positive/negative. There are just too many variables in the Year of COVID for that to be reasonable. As he has for the past few years, cardinalsgifs has lent his enormous talents to our header image and we thank him for it!
Player: Austin Dean
Season stats: 3 games, 7 PA, 1 R, 1 H, 1 2B, 3 BB, 2 K, .250/.571/.500, 198 OPS+, 0.0 bWAR
Postseason stats: 1 K, .000/.000/.000
Statcast: .416 xwOBA, 50.0% barrel %, 99.7 exit velocity, 50.0% hard hit %
Best Statcast category: Did not qualify
Worst Statcast category: Did not qualify
On COVID IL: Yes
Overview: We actually saw more of Dean in the winter than we did during the season, at least if you watched that clip of him knocking off the top of a beer can pyramid often enough. Dean was unfortunate enough to be one of the last to be placed on the COVID-IL, having caught the virus from his roommate Ryan Helsley after they had returned from quarantine in Milwaukee. By time he returned, the outfield already had four or five other options that Mike Shildt was trying to juggle (and an occasional appearance by Tommy Edman) and Dean got squeezed out.
While you can’t draw anything from seven plate appearances, I don’t think Dean did anything to embarrass himself. He was fine in the outfield and at first base. His only hit went for extra bases. He even took the number zero to wear on his back in a bit of a self-own. He seems like the sort of presence you want on the bench or in the clubhouse, who won’t do anything terrible if he makes it on the field but also isn’t likely to do enough to warrant full-time play either.
Outlook: That outfield situation? Yeah, it hasn’t really cleared up. Perhaps the Cardinals will move a Tyler O’Neill or a Lane Thomas this winter and they’ll want some sort of insurance that can handle the outfield, first base, and DH. Given that they actively went and acquired Dean, I could imagine that they’d like to see a little bit more of him and try to find a way to keep him on the roster for 2021. However, when push comes to shove, Dean is pretty expendable and with rosters (at least in theory) shrinking to 26 men next year and the 40-man being a bit full, Dean might wind up with the short end of the stick. If so, I imagine he catches on somewhere and rides the AAA/MLB shuttle.