One of our regular offseason traditions is the Exit Interview, where we look back at each player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals in the past season. This is the 11th season we’ve done this and it’s a good way to get a view of the whole year, not just a short stretch of games. It’s sort of like a performance review before the players went off to their offseason work, spending a little time with Oli Marmol and going over what went right, what went wrong. Stats and grades are only for a player’s time in St. Louis, though splits numbers may include other teams. As always, my sincere thanks to the legend of cardinalsgifs for providing the header image!
Player: Alec Burleson
Season stats: 16 G, 53 PA, 4 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SB, 5 BB, 9 K, .188/.264/.535, 56 OPS+, -0.1 bWAR, -0.3 fWAR
Statcast: .322 xwOBA, 10.3 barrel %, 91.7 exit velocity, 48.7 hard hit %, 17.0 K %, 9.4 BB %
Best Statcast category: Max Exit Velocity (51st percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Sprint Speed (10th percentile)
Positives: Made his major league debut September 8 against the Nationals and his first hit September 11 against the Pirates….his only home run came as a pinch-hitter for Albert Pujols in the game Pujols hit homer #700….entered a very rare group, players that hit their first home run off of a position player….went 1-3 against lefties in the bigs….hit .278 in games the Cardinals won….hit .273 against major league fastballs….went 2-7 against the Brewers….slashed .331/.372/.532 with 20 home runs in 109 games in Memphis.
Negatives: Was hitless in seven of his 19 major league games….hit .067 against breaking pitches and .182 against offspeed pitches….hit .182 as a first baseman and .192 as an outfielder….had a .333 OPS when he swung at the first pitch….had a .267 OPS when he was behind in the count….hit .158 with two outs….went 0-7 with a walk with two outs and RISP….went 2-11 in high leverage situations….had a .316 OPS in the middle innings.
Overview: The 70th (yes, I keep track) player taken in the 2020 draft, Burleson rocketed up the minor league ladder in 2021 and then turned it an outstanding season in Memphis in 2022. The bat was so loud it almost drowned out the clamor of fans asking for him to be promoted as the Cardinal outfield sputtered. The Cardinals resisted for a long time, in part because he wasn’t on the 40-man roster, but eventually another trip to the injured list for Dylan Carlson opened up a spot for him in St. Louis. Burleson didn’t immediately light the world on fire upon his promotion but he showed enough to probably make the front office happy they got a chance to see him in the bigs.
Outlook: It’s pretty clear there’s not much left for him in Memphis but there are a lot of outfield options in St. Louis (Carlson, Tyler O’Neill, Lars Nootbaar, Juan Yepez) and coming up (Jordan Walker). That doesn’t even count the fact that the Cardinals will probably be looking for a bat to upgrade their outfield alignment. It was a little surprising that Burleson made it through the trade deadline as a Cardinal and if John Mozeliak and company pull off a deal this winter, Burleson could be part of what goes back. If not, though, he’ll have a chance in spring training to lay claim to a starting outfield spot and I wouldn’t want to bet against him getting it.