Exit Interview 2021: Lane Thomas

As is tradition around these parts after the season is over, we’re taking a look at every player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  That’ll range from someone that didn’t record an out to someone that played almost every inning.  Treat it like they are stopping by the manager’s office (umm, also imagine this was before the managerial change) on their way home for the winter for a performance review.  Stats listed are ones generated during their time with the Cards and the grade is based not only on their performance but on the expectations for them going into the season.  As he has the past few years, the legend that is cardinalsgifs has provided our excellent header image!

Player: Lane Thomas

Season stats: 32 G, 58 PA, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 SB, 1 CS, 10 BB, 17 K, .104/.259/.125, 13 OPS+, -0.3 bWAR, -0.4 fWAR

Statcast: .319 xwOBA, 7.3 barrel %, 91.0 exit velocity, 45.7 hard hit %, 23.9 K %, 14 BB %

Best Statcast category: Sprint Speed (93rd percentile)

Worst Statcast category: Outfielder Jump (37th percentile)

Hero/Goat: Goat 2

Grade: D

Positives: Hit .265 with four homers in 30 games at Memphis….had his double as a pinch-hitter in a May game against Arizona….found a groove when traded to Washington for Jon Lester to be another one of the Cardinal hitters that found success elsewhere.

Negatives: Got regular playing time starting in mid-May and went .083/.233/.111 over those 43 plate appearances until being demoted in June….made some mental miscues while playing outfield….for his hot start with the Nationals, finished the season hitting .227 over the last 17 games.

Overview: We talked about the rise and fall of Lane Thomas earlier in the year and he didn’t do much after that post to change people’s minds.  I am sure that being hit with COVID-19 so hard last year really changed his trajectory, as there’s still a lot we don’t know about the aftereffects of the disease.  That being said, Thomas’s play was pretty rough over the last couple of years and it’s not surprising that the club decided to move on.  With the emergence of Lars Nootbaar, it seems unlikely that they are truly going to miss Thomas unless he becomes an All-Star down the road.  The odds of that aren’t terribly good, I wouldn’t think.

Outlook: Thomas still seems to be in the Nationals’ plans in either center or one of the corner outfield spots, so he’ll probably get a chance at his first full season in 2022.  Hopefully he’ll be able to take advantage of it and fulfill some of the potential he showed coming through the Cardinal organization.

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